By Kyle Austin
Peter Shankman, the creator of the much talked about HARO (Help A Reporter Out) service has been a feel good media story. Guy starts a free service to help reporters find sources. Guy sends the list to PR folks for free so they can get their clients mentioned as sources. Guy grows the list on his own to over 23,000 to compete with paid service from Profnet. Guy signs on advertisers to keep it free for users and gets “way over $100 CPM’s,” as advertisers reach a very targeted group. Everybody wins. What’s not to love about this story? Capitalism at its very best.
Unfortunately, fairy tales don’t usually last forever.
This morning while scanning some Twitter updates my colleague stumbled across this:
and then this:
My first thought – Maybe Hamilton Nolan is right and this is some sort of cult. Folks what are we thinking? I realize Peter does use shock value, he did agree to get tasered after all. But his use of the word “lynching” and all the connotations that come with the word is totally uncalled for and wrong. Now I obviously don’t know the race of the PR person that he is referring to and despite our name, we don’t usually get into racial discussions on our blog. If the PR person happens to be white – then perhaps it’s nothing more then an egregious error in judgement. If the PR person happens to black his use of the word is unconscionable. Either way, the use of the word that brings back images of one of the most despicable acts in our Nation’s history is wrong.
There’s obviously some comparisons that can be made here to the recent incident involving Golf Channel host Kelly Tilghman and her use of the word “lynch” in referring to Tiger Woods. Her use of the word in context was “young players who wanted to challenge Tiger Woods should lynch him in a back alley.” Tiger’s race, being an issue on the tour since he first set foot on it, made the remark a punishable offense and the network rightly suspended her for two weeks.
Since I started this post Shankman has updated his Twitter feed and let everyone know that the PR person has sent him a heartfelt apology:
At the very least Shankman owes everyone a heartfelt apology of his own for the consistent use of the word.