If your business has a blog or you are looking to reach a larger audience (and really, who isn’t?), then you should be using Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO provides you with the opportunity to connect with both reporters (45,000) and experts in your industry (475,000 total sources). HARO is even used by large publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.
HARO can function as media outreach and content creation tools. How, you ask?
As a representative of your business, you can pitch to journalists and request information and quotes from experts to support your own publications, such as your blog.
Here are some of the potential benefits of using HARO:
- Gain visibility in industry
- Reach your target market
- Drive traffic to your website
- Get found by those searching for your product or service
- Brand yourself as an industry expert
- Develop relationships with journalists, bloggers and experts
- Display knowledge in an external space
- Increase awareness among publication audience
- Receive free publicity
- Get quotes and advice from experts for articles
- Make your content research and creation easier
- Find prospective collaborators
- Be helpful to others
You Don’t Have to Be a Reporter to Make a HARO Query
Your business may have a unique content creation strategy, but all business that produce content can utilize HARO to reach experts on specific topics by creating a query. Whether you are looking for guidance on a topic, want to collaborate with others in your industry or prefer to quote an expert, creating a HARO query will help you reach individuals with something to say, give you more content ideas to work with and make the research process easier.
Businesses that are interested in expert sources for published content should create a HARO query. Yes, there is a short approval process, but if you make your intentions known in the query, you should be approved. Although websites that actively blog are likely to qualify, you must have an Alexa ranking of 1 million or less to request information. You can read the guidelines here.
You Don’t Have to Be a Fortune 500 Company to Respond to a HARO Query
Journalists don’t always want to quote a Coca-Cola; they also want to quote small and medium-sized businesses and representatives who are active in an industry. Use your experience to help them and their readers gain perspective. Keep in mind, if you aren’t the ideal person to respond to a query, someone else in your company may be.
Will Reporters Use My Pitch?
Many factors come into play when evaluating the usefulness of a HARO response. Quality is of course the most important, but there are some methods that may help you stand out to a reporter.
You shouldn’t attempt to pitch any query that might be only slightly relevant. Odds are that there will be someone more specialized to quote and it will be a waste of your time. Instead, consistently monitor HARO alerts for the perfect query for you or other experts at your company.
With the number of reporters, bloggers and companies using HARO, there may be a lot of queries to sort through daily. If you are only interested in a specific industry or expertise vertical, you can segment query alerts to only send lists that are specific to you.
If you do find a relevant query, be sure to include a few sentences about your expertise in the specific topic at the bottom of your HARO pitch. This helps the reporter see your relevance and perceive credibility.
Always be specific in your pitch. Although you may provide some interesting, useful information, do not stray too far from the query topic in your initial pitch. If you have a report or additional insight to provide, offer to send it in a following email at their request.
They’re Into the Whole Brevity Thing
Depending on the query, the journalist may receive an overwhelming number of pitches. You will want to keep yours short and to the point. Preselected quotes from you or the face of your company will help the reporter decide if your query will be easy to use. Inserting bullet points and a few quotes will also make your response more scannable, which could determine whether they move on to another response or read yours more thoroughly. If the reporter is interested in what you have to say and you haven’t included enough information, they will reach out to you!
Timing Is Key
Sometimes journalists post queries when on a tight deadline. They need an expert’s perspective and they need it as soon as possible to shape and support their arguments. Due to the distribution delay and HARO approval process, reporters are more likely to quote from some of the first responses. Even if you submit before the deadline, they may already have what they need to move onto the next article.
In order to increase your response speed, monitor your HARO query emails as they come into your inbox three times a day. You can also sign up for text alerts if you prefer to receive them as they come in with a paid account.
Developing a Personal Brand
Yes, your company brand matters. It may or may not be appealing to the journalist, but developing your personal brand helps. You can do this by filling out the bio section of HARO, which journalists can reference quickly without leaving the website. At the bottom of your pitch, linking to your LinkedIn, Twitter and company employee site page will also help them understand who you are and see your expertise. To increase your visibility, reach out to the reporter on social channels and comment on some of their posts.
Contact Information & Availability
Along with your social networks and bio page, include direct contact phone numbers and email for the reporter to reach you. Clarify your availability up front. If you are able to respond immediately or schedule a last-minute phone call, let them know that you are available and have more insight to offer.
FREE accounts include:
Query alerts – you will receive three HARO emails every weekday. This way, opportunities come to you rather than having to search for them on the website.
Segmentation – you can segment your HARO subscription by industry. If you are only interested in a specific industry, there is no need to receive the master HARO list.
Member ratings — view member pitch ratings and rate pitches.
Post queries faster – if you are under a tight deadline, you can mark your query as “urgent” to speed up the approval process.
Anonymous email address – HARO creates an email address that forwards queries to your primary email address.
Promoting Your HARO Query
Focus on the Title
Your HARO query “summary” title is the first thing that sources will see. Use this opportunity to grab their attention and lead them to click your query over others that surround it. As you can see in the screen shot below, your title is linked to rest of your query and positioned among other relevant industry topics. Stand out by crafting a title that appeals to those you want to respond and won’t be easily overlooked.
— Tweet @helpareporter.
HARO posts queries on Twitter, where it has 103,000 followers. If HARO tweets your query, engage with the tweet by replying and retweeting.
Regardless of HARO’s query tweet, you should tweet your query and include the @helpareporter handle. Sharing yourself will increase the likelihood that it gets more exposure and retweets on Twitter, and getting a retweet from HARO will allow their followers to see your query.
— Use the #urgharo hash tag.
Create larger distribution by including the #urgharo hash tag in your tweets. This allows you to join in on a conversation on Twitter, reach an audience of reporters and possibly get a retweet from those following the hash tag.
— Others will retweet your query.
— Deirdre Reid, CAE (@deirdrereid) June 11, 2015
— Others will share your query with specific, relevant individuals.
— Rona Gindin (@RonaGindin) June 29, 2015
— Cat Paterson (@S_TalkGinger) June 22, 2015
— Use relevant hash tags. You can find those who are not monitoring HARO emails and/or are not a HARO member when you optimize your hash tag usage.
If they are not a HARO member, they can still email the HARO email address with a pitch, but they will receive a request to sign up for an account in order for the pitch to be delivered.
— Melissa Dobson (@MelissaDobson) June 13, 2014
— Non-query engagement can work with the hash tag as well:
— TOP-WEB (@TheTopWeb) February 17, 2015
@hull_j Thank you! I have a list of services and just added this new one.
— TOP-WEB (@TheTopWeb) February 17, 2015
— Build relationships with reporters and relevant experts engaging with the hash tag and queries related to your industry.
— Tweet those you plan to quote in your articles.
Upgrade Your Plan
By upgrading your plan, you can search the HARO database for collaborators and HARO queries.
Test Similar Services
ProfNet is a paid service for sources and free to reporters. Quora is a free service that allows you to answer public questions. Unlike HARO, the majority of users posting questions are not reporters or bloggers. Really, anyone can post on the website. However, it does present a great opportunity to get quoted by bloggers using the website.
Takeaways & HARO Tips
- Monitor HARO queries consistently.
- Include a brief intro about who you are and your company in your pitch.
- Make your response easy to scan and quote.
- Be brief, specific and relevant.
- Provide more information about company offerings and your personal bio at the end of the pitch (Remember, pitching yourself should never be your primary focus).
- Include links to your website and social profiles.
- Include your email, phone number and availability in your response in case they have follow-up questions and need to reach you quickly.
- Respond as quickly as possible – even if you submit before the deadline, the journalist may already have the quote he or she needs from a different source, maybe even a competitor.
- Continue to develop your relationship with the journalist after the article publishes, because there may be future opportunities for different articles or publications. Another great way to do this is to engage with journalists via social. This will help them get to know you and your brand through multiple channels.
- Offer to be an expert source for similar topics in the future.
- Don’t post queries as an anonymous outlet – most of those will be ignored.
- Use Twitter to promote your query and build relationships.
- Incorporate HARO into your media outreach and content creation strategies
Do you have any suggestions for using HARO? I’d love to hear about your experiences.