WEEKLY WEB WATCH: A resource for sharing knowledge

Organisation: ProfNet

Organisation: ProfNet

Issue: Information for journalists

At: www.profnet.com

ProfNet is a new web service from PR Newswire that has just been

launched in the UK. It enables journalists from any sector to key in a

specific query or request for information and then receive a list of

relevant contacts by e-mail. It also gives experts in a particular field

the opportunity to subscribe as a ProfNet contact. It could be a great

way for PR practitioners to provide information and comment to the media

on behalf of clients.

ProfNet was launched in the US in 1992 in response to the need for

academics to create more media coverage for their institutions. Since

then the service has diversified due to requests by journalists to

create a one-stop-shop - expanding to include PR professionals in

industry, government, law and non-profit organisations and a European

version was launched on 3 July this year.

ProfNet’s search facility enables a journalist to e-mail (via the web

site or direct to the editorial team) or phone in their requests for


When a user logs on they are given the choice to enter one of two

sections: ’For Journalists’ or ’For Information Officers’. The latter is

where PR people can register as contacts.

The former is the core service of the web site. It contains two main

sections and a ’User’s Guide’. The two main search sections are

’broadly’ or ’narrowly’. To search ’narrowly’ journalists must make

their request for information, as precise as possible, and include their

deadline and contact details. This is sent to the ProfNet editorial team

who forward it to relevant parties. The journalist is then given a list

of contacts.

The ’broadly’ search facility accesses the ’Expert’s Database’ -

subscribers who have entered their details with a brief explanation of

their area of specialist knowledge. To search the site for a suitable

contact, the user types in a key word or phrase and is given a list of


The web site is visually primitive, although Stuart Miller, ProfNet’s

European editor, says that there are plans to develop the graphics and

to make the site more interactive. However, its simplicity works in its

favour as it is quick to respond to clicks for accessing sections of the


Having logged onto the web site and submitted a dummy query PR Week

received a phone call within five minutes from Miller. A request had

been entered for information that was not very clear and Miller phoned

to find out exactly what was wanted. This was a testament to the

initiative’s quick response time.

ProfNet should provide journalists and PR people with an extensive

source of information and contacts. It should also give the UK PR

industry an opportunity to offer expertise and gain valuable global

media coverage.

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