8 Questions with PR, Marketing & Social Media Powerhouse, Peter Shankman (Part 1 of 2)

By: Robin Gelfenbien

Shankman-HeadshotWhen you chat with Peter Shankman, founder of HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and overall creative genius, you never know what he’s going to say, but one thing’s for sure. It’ll be smart, insightful, inspiring, potentially radical and endlessly entertaining and interesting. Oh, and fast. Like rapid fire.

In this two-part series, we chatted with the entrepreneur and highly sought-after keynote speaker about the three essentials to pitching media, his unconventional way of preparing for media interviews, his ADHD, love of skydiving and, of course, fake news.

1. You are known for your best-selling book on customer service, “Zombie Loyalists.” Have you had any particularly memorable (good and bad) customer service experiences? If so, which ones stand out in your mind and why?

I was at a Ritz-Carlton hotel once, where I was running out of toothpaste. I didn’t realize this, of course. I came back to my room one night, and the maid had bought a tube of toothpaste and left a note – “I saw you were running low, thought I could help.” This comes from instinct and training – some people instinctually want to help – those are the people you want to hire.

2. You are frequently on the road with speaking gigs and the like. Over your international travels, which countries impressed you with their customer service and why? What can we learn from those cultures about customer service and what can we teach them?

Asia is over the top – Best bet there is to learn how they anticipate needs before they become needs. On the flip side, we can teach them how it’s ok to break the rules once in a while.

3. Based on your experience as a PR pro, marketer and influencer, what do you think are the key things that companies and agencies need to keep in mind when courting an influencer?

Companies need to do their homework. It’s the only way. Figure out who you want to target, then reach out to them AFTER doing your homework on them. You really think I’m going to target my audience with something that has nothing to do with me? Come on.

4. You are a very accomplished skydiver with over 500 jumps under your belt. What do you think are the most unexpected similarities between jumping out of a plane and being an entrepreneur?

Being an entrepreneur is much harder than skydiving. When you’re skydiving, you have a parachute on your back. When you’re an entrepreneur, you’re trying to build that parachute in freefall before you hit the ground.

5. If anyone has spent any time with you, they know that your mind works at lightning speed. I love your ADHD platform, Faster than Normal, because it strips away all of the stigma associated with ADHD and embraces it. Tell us how your fast mind has served you in life and in business.

Every bit of success I’ve had has been BECAUSE of my ADHD. My brain works super-fast, I don’t have time to think about what might go wrong. I simply create the idea. If it doesn’t work, I try something else. It’s that simple.

6. You’re a frequent guest on CNN talking about marketing and public relations. What do you do to prepare for these interviews and what has been the key to developing and maintaining those relationships?

Thanks to my ADHD, I don’t do much. I research, of course. But I don’t make talking points or anything. The way my brain works, it’s a lot easier for to simply get on stage (or on camera) and just have fun.

7. What are your top 3 do’s and don’ts when pitching media?

1) Do your homework
2) Pitch specific to reporters, not general to many.
3) Find out the best way they want to receive their info, and give it to them that way. And only that way.

8. With all of this fake news and alternative facts, how do you think the media landscape is going to change over the next year?

Anyone’s guess.


Which of Peter’s pearls of wisdom resonated with you? What surprised you? Tweet us and let us know.

Also, be sure to read part two of our interview with Peter coming out March 23rd.

Peter Shankman is an accomplished author, keynote speaker, entrepreneur, influencer and PR, marketing and social media machine best known for founding the game-changing service, HARO (Help A Reporter Out).

The New York Times has called him “A public relations all-star who knows everything about new media and then some.”

As a frequent international keynote speaker and workshop presenter, Peter has spoken at SXSW, Affiliate Summit, BlogWorld, TBEX, PRSA, CES, PMA and the DMA, among others.

His customer service and social media clients have included American Express, Sprint, SAP, The US Department of Defense, Royal Bank of Canada, Snapple, NASA, Walt Disney World, Discovery Networks, Harrah’s Hotels and many more.

To learn more about Peter, hire him to speak, read his blog and more,visit his site. Be sure to follow Peter on Twitter,check out his best-selling books on customer service, PR stunts and more and listen to his recent interview with Tony Robbins on his podcast.

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