What is HARO? How Does It Work?
Most brands and businesses have heard all about HARO (Help A Reporter Out), and they might even think about using it to help build their brand. But are not really sure how to go about it, or even if it will work for them.
What they know is for their business to be successful, their brand needs the exposure that attracts positive attention in a sea of noise.
They have heard that HARO is a service helping businesses get real exposure in respected media outlets and sites like Huffington Post, MSN, WebMD, CNN, and many more?
How valuable would such high-level exposure and the accompanying SEO boost be to their brand and business? They would definitely pay for it if they knew it was possible. Wouldn’t they?
How HARO Can Help A Business
Journalists, bloggers, and influencers often need expert sources for stories they are writing. They sign up for HARO to submit requests, or queries, for an expert (source), or a quote from an expert that will validate their article.
The brand looking for exposure would join HARO as a source. Once signed up they’ll receive three emails each day from Monday to Friday.
As the source, they need to look out for the emails and decide if any of the queries match their skill set. If so, they respond with their ‘pitch’ and the journalist will select them to offer insights into the article. They will get a mention in the article with a link back to their site.
Once the emails hit the inbox, they have a limited time to respond. Many other experts will have received the emails at the same time. Speed is of the essence here. If they do not send a pitch back within a few hours, it will be too late. Better to move on.
Top 10 Tips For Using HARO
HARO sounds brilliant, but having read so many complaints from sources that never receive replies from journalists here are a few tips to gaining the attention of media professionals.
1. Supply Only What’s Requested
Share only what’s been requested. If one ‘expert tip’ is needed for an article, send only one. Brief but to the point, leaving no doubt.
If a professional nutritionist’s opinion is what’s asked for, and the source runs a fitness blog, they may have masses of useful nutrition information, they will still waste their time by sending a pitch.
The journalist has deliberately pointed out what they want.
2. Respond Quickly
This relates to what was said earlier. If a journalist asks for a response by a certain time, then any response after the deadline will not get a second glance. They send emails at specific times, adhere to those times, and answer emails immediately, don’t put them on the back burner for later.
3. Create A Template
This is not advocating a one size fits all response to queries. But there will be pertinent information necessary on every response sent.
For example, the email address of the company, a brief introduction, and expertise of the company and what qualifies the company as experts in their field.
The journalist or influencer will not be interested in canned responses, but they must know who they’re dealing with.
4. Stand Out In A Sea Of Mediocrity
It would be difficult to put a figure on how many responses a journalist will receive from their query, it could run into hundreds, at least. Don’t be mediocre. Stand out in their inbox.
The subject line matters. In fact, it might even be more important than the content of the email.
Take their subject line and turn it into a headline. For example, if an influencer sends a query asking about SEO Myths, don’t write your subject line SEO Myths.
The response would be so much better to 9 Common SEO Myths: How To Tell Fact From Fiction.
The thing is this, the advice may well be the same in the body of the emails. But which subject line will get the attention.
5. Don’t Be Tempted To Use Jargon
It’s doubtful the journalist asking for an expert is looking for a highly technical or scientific response. She will not put information on that level into her piece. Whether it’s an article for a newspaper or a social media post on Facebook.
If a 12-year-old can’t understand it, it’s too complex.
6. Structure Your Writing
Skimmable is the buzzword today. No-one wants to read walls of text. If a reporter or influencer can’t cut and paste the responses straight into their article, they’ll more than likely move to the next email.
Headers, two to three sentence paragraphs, and bullet points are what’s necessary today.
7. Proofreading Is Essential
Writing must have the correct structure. So the piece or quote needs proofreading and editing, before being sent out. It will not impress a journalist or reporter when there are glaring grammar mistakes. If need be, there are free editors which makes it possible to check for spelling and grammar errors.
8. Don’t Waste Time With Off-Topic Pitches
Remember, a journalist on assignment will probably be on a deadline himself. Wasting his time will not help your pitch.
To help meet his deadline, he has requested a specific quote or piece of information, don’t second guess them by sending in a pitch that does not address their query.
9. Keep Everything Professional
It can be agonizing, waiting for any kind of response from a journalist. Most times they don’t respond at all. But whatever the case, treat them with professional courtesy. Don’t search online for their personal email address to ‘confirm’ the email has been received and if they require any more information or quotes.
10. If The Piece Is Published
Should the influencer or journalist use your pitch, there are simple ways to follow up.
- Use the company’s Social media channels to post the piece.
- Write a blog post referencing the piece.
- Encourage the company’s social media followers to repost the piece on their channels.
- If the company has a LinkedIn account, share the article on there.
Not every pitch made will be successful, but don’t be wasteful with the content. Once the query has closed, and the pitch made deemed unsuccessful, then the material belongs to the business. The replies sent to the journalist might have the makings of a tremendous blog post for the brand or business.
HARO is a powerful marketing tool if used correctly by connecting your brand and business to journalists and influencers. Keep testing the subject lines and content of the pitches sent out. If one is successful, analyze it and compare it to unsuccessful ones.