Help A Reporter Out (HARO) can be a great resource for getting press mentions for your cause or business. It also a great way to build relationships with reporters and establish credibility as a source.
To start building your credibility as a HARO source, sign up with the service and indicate your fields of expertise. You’ll receive emails three times a day with queries in your chosen categories. Here are some tips for vetting and answering queries.
Analyze the Request
Evaluate each request to determine if you should respond.
- Is the name of reporter and publication clear? (Be wary of anonymous queries.)
- Is this a publication where you would like visibility?
- Is this a reporter who you would like to develop a relationship with?
Journalists often turn to HARO because it’s too late to go through the process of researching a qualified source, so be ready to work with tight schedule. Respond to queries quickly but thoroughly.
follow submission guidelines
Respond to all the parameters of the query. Give the reporter all the details requested so he/she can fully evaluate your response against the need. Answer questions so the reporter can use the information without having to follow up.
Don’t pitch off topic. Pitching off topic is a waste of time for you, and might impact your image negatively with journalists:
Sloppy responses won’t get a reporter’s attention. They want your help, not another source to coach and edit. Brief pitches work best. Those who send out brief pitches experience a better success rate than those who rant.
Reporters are more often than not looking for experts. Pitch a specific source by name. Showcase credentials as early in your response as possible.
If your source and information are used, follow up. Publicize the article to your audience via your own press page and social channels. Send a thank you note to the reporter and connect through appropriate channels like LinkedIn and Twitter. Establish yourself as a trusted source for future articles.
The 5 Golden Rules to HARO Success, as Shared by Real Users
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HARO, short for Help a Reporter Out, is an amazing tool, if you know how to use it. For business owners with no budgets for PR, it’s a godsend. For PR professionals, it’s the promised land: direct opportunities to pitch journalists who are actually interested in their stories. But of course, things aren’t as simple as they appear at the first sight: using HARO requires a bit of common sense, self discipline, and pitching skills.
There are no real secret recipes to using HARO, however, to learn how to maximize your chances of being selected as a source by a journalist, you need information from those who actually experienced success. What did they do to be selected? Are they willing to share the wisdom? Are there tips and tricks that helped them score great media mentions?
Everything PR ran a query with HARO, asking sources to share their success stories, and the amount of feedback received was mind-blowing. In less than 24 hours, there were over 50 pitches in my mailbox, from business owners and PR professionals alike. These responses provided tremendous insider intelligence value – concrete real life examples of successful pitches, tips and advice from real HARO users.
1. Off topic pitches will fail
Don’t pitch off topic – there seems to be a general consensus among 57 people who answered Everything PRs call for success stories. Pitching off topic is a waste of time for you, and might impact your image negatively with journalists:
Stay on topic and get to the point quickly. Reporters are busy and they get tons of
queries through HARO — respect their time,” told us Julianne Coyne, PR specialist at Fahrenheit Marketing. Her company was recently selected as a source for an article on Secret Entourage, How to Do Keyword Research for SEO.
Christina Daves of CastMedic Designs told us the same thing:
Don’t pitch off topic to a reporter. They get inundated with responses. Don’t waste their time.
And Daves knows a thing or two about success with HARO. Aside several mentions or national media (like Blog Talk Radio, NerdWallet, Examiner and others), Daves appeared on the Steve Harvey Show, after answering the query, Do you want to take your product to the next level? (National Television). The show ended up being a contest:
“I competed against 5 other inventors and was selected by two branding expert judges and won $20,000 in seed money. As a result, sales have boomed and I also have had celebrity customers.”
2. Keep it short, smarty
Brief pitches work best – it appears that users who send out brief pitches experience a better success rate than those who rant.
“My best advice to new HARO users would be to send very brief pitches that are highly personalized. Nobody wants a form letter,” told us Alexandra Chauran, a fortune teller who recently got a mention in the Colorado Springs Gazette after answering a journalist query on HARO.
The same advice comes from Jason Fitzgerald of Strength Running who used HARO to get press mentions and quotes in Yahoo, Health Magazine, Shape, and many others:
“Beginners to HARO should keep their tips short, to the point, and offer to help the writer with additional information or quotes.”
3. Stick to the topic, without the fluff
Keep to the point – even if you want to give additional details you believe relevant, keep them to yourself:
“Respond to queries where you can truly offer the expertise and information that the reporter is seeking,” explains Michelle Sullivan, Director of Marketing at Privia. “Do not waste their time as that certainly won’t endear you to them. Answer the questions that they are asking and do not offer tons of additional data that doesn’t really benefit their article. Understand that they are on a deadline and that if they need additional details, they will certainly ask.”
And Sullivan should know. Her CEO was recently featured in the SmartCEO Magazine after answering the query Seeking DC area C-level executives for interviews on corporate team building.
Keeping to the point works even when you are not in the business field the journalist is interested in, but only if you know what you are talking about. Liran Hirschkorn, who is an Independent Insurance Agent was quoted at SheKnows.Com about fathers who work from home, a mention that brings traffic to his website:
“My advice would be to look at the HARO emails every day and any request that might be a good fit – submit to. It doesn’t matter if it relates directly to your business or not – for example I was quoted at SheKnows.Com about fathers who work from home, and that mention gets traffic to my website. Write through, useful responses that add value and you have a good shot at a reporter emailing or calling you back.”
Joseph Shrand, MD, Medical Director at Castle, High Point Treatment Center in Marshfield, experienced the downsides of too long, fluffy pitches first hand:
“My first attempts were dismally unsuccessful: I put way too much information in the response. I am now much more likely to get what I call a HARO hit by writing perhaps three or four pithy sentences that get right to the heart of the query.”
4. Credentials matter
Your credentials may sell you as an expert. As reporters are more often than not looking for experts, you should showcase your credentials as early in your response as possible.