What Should You Look for in a HARO Query?

Using Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is one of the easiest ways to get publicity. You become a relevant authority in your industry and a go-to source of your expertise. Now, you might have responded to every media opportunity you can find but still haven’t landed in any influential media to get PR for your business.

By this, you have understood that simply responding to queries won’t automatically earn you media coverage. Quality and relevance are what HARO prioritizes. Maybe you need to get back to the basics: learn how to use HARO properly.

When using Help a Reporter Out, there are factors you should look for in a query.

Leads Matching Your Goals

In responding to leads, you must prioritize the ones that match your goals. It’s quite tempting to reply to all queries that look like a match to you because more and more similar leads might come your way. 

But it would be a waste of your time when you answer queries that won’t help you spread your core message. You could be misrepresented, which could also misguide your prospective clients and customers. So the next time you respond to a query, ask yourself first: “Is this how I want to be known for?”

Credible and Reputable Publications

You must conduct research on the media outlets where the journalists will publish their articles. Check if the publication is credible and reputable and one you want to be associated with. 

Identify if it’s relevant for you to be featured on any of the media outlets’ newspapers, magazines, radio, television, and websites. Also, check if your potential customers are watchers, readers, or listeners of that publication.

Useful Hints

Journalists in HARO will either ask a question or create a scenario for you to respond to. A question can be technical and specific like: “How to use content to get more followers on Instagram?” or can go as free as: “What is your first best piece of flirting/first date advice as a bartender?”

The first helpful hint is found on the question itself. Journalists know exactly what they want. They’re busy meeting deadlines so you need to provide them with what they ask. 

Provide the reporter the best advice you have as an expert they seek, no matter how tempting it is to provide for more or to tell a personal story you thought is amazing. About 9 out of 10 journalists prefer your pitches to be under 200 words, which means they don’t have time to enjoy your storytelling.

Opportunity to Showcase Expertise

For a general question, journalists will often specify how many actionable steps or advice they want from you. This hints that they’re probably getting the same common and boring tips repeatedly and they need your expert help.

A lot of HARO queries are easy to answer depending on your experience. The challenge, though, is to provide expert answers that are creative, fresh, and unique compared to what most sources in the same field would provide.

If you want to shine, learn to think differently from your competitors. However, keep in mind that your main role is to ease the journalists by providing valuable expert insights. 

Beatable Deadlines

HARO queries are time-sensitive. Others give you days to write the pitch, but many can only wait for a few hours. A query that has a “tight deadline” hints you to submit a pitch as early as you can. 

Statistics show that 64% of journalists prefer morning pitches while only 4% prefer to receive them at night. If you release your pitch past your deadline, just forget it.

Achievable Requirements

One of the common mistakes people make in using HARO is that they skim and not read the queries in full, so they end up misinterpreting them. They’d write the pitch right away, which would turn out irrelevant because they weren’t able to consider or follow some of the instructions and requirements. 

Most expert sources do well in answering the query but fail to follow the requirements provided by the journalists. Journalists might ask for your name and designation or request that you highlight how you’re a perfect fit for the story.

They may also look for sources from a specific location, say a life coach in Chicago, so if you’re not from there, your pitch will be irrelevant and a waste of your time. 

Wrapping Up

You must learn how to use HARO as a platform properly to get successful publicity. You can find media opportunities in the platform via search, keyword notifications, and daily email digests, but just like in actual life, not all opportunities need your attention.

It’s wise to ensure first that a HARO query is a valuable and legitimate media opportunity. Use the guide we’ve provided above to identify if a query is relevant to you and your business and is worth your time.

Not ready to start pitching? Subscribe to our newsletter.

More To Explore

Mushfiq Sarker from The Website Flip

Mushfiq is a prolific investor that buys, grows, and sells online businesses, specializing in content websites. He has done 180 website flips to date

Get All The HARO Pitching Techniques

Get the latest tips & tricks from The Sourcery Blog, every week.