This article was contributed by Sadie Aram for Silverbrook Marketing.
Are you struggling to find the missing piece of your marketing strategy? Introducing your new secret weapon: HARO. Although some would argue that marketing and public relations are separate entities, there’s no doubt that the two go hand in hand. If you’re a public relations beginner, don’t worry—with the right techniques, you can be a HARO pro in no time.
What is HARO?
HARO, which stands for “Help A Reporter Out,” is a mailing list where reporters submit queries to connect with sources that can give information to use in their articles. Think of it like a dating app—if you have the insight that a journalist is looking for, then it’s a match! Using HARO is a more efficient way to secure media coverage than spending hours writing the perfect press release and blindly sending it to journalists who rummage through hundreds of emails per day.
Receiving press exposure is an effective way to amplify your business without paying a cent; it just requires a bit of time and effort. A simple quote can make your company visible to a new, wider audience, which will set you apart from your competitors. Earning mentions from the media can increase the credibility of your business, allowing you to become an opinion leader in your field.
How Do I Use HARO?
To use HARO, you must sign up to become a source. Create a free account using your name, email address, and company name and act on relevant queries as frequently as you like. HARO is made possible by mutual trust and support, so be sure to read the rules for sources before replying to queries. Once registered, you will receive three emails each weekday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m., and 5:35 p.m. Each email will contain requests categorized by industry, like business, sports, education, and more. You can also choose to receive industry-specific emails. Here are a few examples from the HARO Twitter, where urgent requests are posted:
“Seeking experts to provide information on how often credit card declines occur, and how to prevent it from happening in the first place.”
“Seeking the latest tools, gadgets, etc. for coffee and tea lovers who brew the perfect cup at home.”
“Seeking experts to discuss career planning as a parent”
“Seeking people with enormous Halloween decorations.”
Top Tips for Using HARO
As you can see, requests can vary greatly. While mastering HARO takes experience over time, here are a few dos and don’ts to follow when getting started:
- DO act fast: Journalism is fast-moving and queries are time sensitive. Improve the chances of your response being chosen by moving just as fast! Read HARO emails as soon as they are sent and compose a response once you find a relevant request.
- DO keep it concise: Giving a reporter exactly what they need is the best way to get noticed. Leave out “fluffy,” distracting information that steers attention away from the real message. Consider including direct quotes so journalists can pull directly from your response.
- DO include the full package: Attach a headshot, a short bio, and other appropriate details like your contact information and your company’s website. Avoid asking for an additional comment or interview, though. We’re still in the fast lane!
- DON’T reply to every request: Always double-check that you meet the requirements and bring the right expertise to the table. If your reply is irrelevant to the query, your response will go straight to the journalist’s trash bin. It’s okay to wait for the right query—especially if you have a unique angle for their story.
- DON’T do it for the backlinks: If a writer uses you as a source, they will often link back to your website. Yes, this is beneficial to your website’s search engine optimization (SEO), but it shouldn’t be the leading motive of your HARO responses. Think of it as a plus for helping reporters get the quotes they need for their next articles.
- DON’T self-promote: Unless a query is specifically asking about a certain product or service (i.e. “Seeking gift ideas for doctors and other medical professionals”), leave sales out of your response. More than half of publishers will decline a pitch that’s too promotional. Respond with value and focus on what your expertise can contribute to the topic.
While incorporating HARO into your marketing routine, keep in mind that your first response will likely not get your company into the New York Times. While it may take a few attempts to secure media coverage, be consistent with HARO to see the best results. When a journalist uses your response, say thank you and share the article on your social media pages. Developing a relationship with a journalist can help you land more placements in the future!