One of the best tools available to PR pros is HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out. HARO is a free email subscription service where reporters submit requests for sources to include in upcoming articles. The requests come from media and appear in a list multiple times a day via email. For example, an editor at Forbes may need to speak with an expert on finances, or a beauty blogger is working on their holiday gift guide and needs eco-friendly products. The requests are endless, and they can come from anywhere from small blogs to major media outlets.
I love HARO because it changes the dynamics of the PR Pro and Journalist’s relationship. Allowing PR Pros to submit a source for an article a journalist is already working on, instead of blowing up their inbox and shoving an irrelevant pitch down their throat helps create a symbiotic relationship.
So, how do you make the most out of a HARO query and ensure your client breaks through the noise to get coverage? I recommend the following:
After identifying a query that fits your client, research the journalist who requested the source. You don’t need to stalk them, but you do need to know their work. Read their most recent articles and connect with them on Twitter and LinkedIn. Most likely, this is a journalist you should be following anyway. If, for some reason, they don’t select your client for their current story, at least you’ll have started cultivating a relationship with them for future opportunities. Once you’ve connected with the writer, I would let them know more about your client to ensure they are on their radar.
Submit your response quickly. There is no time to dillydally when it comes to HARO. It’s critical to turn around the response as soon as you can. Usually, journalists are on a tight deadline, and they need the information FAST.
Don’t half-ass a response to their question. Less is NOT more when it comes to HARO. I’ve had the most success with HARO when I’m able to provide detailed and well-written responses. I very rarely get coverage when I simply respond with, “I have this great expert for you.” You need to answer the question they’re asking.
Finally, use HARO as a guide to identify trends in the media and tailor your pitches to match what journalists are covering. After the Coronavirus hit and we were quarantined at home, I started noticing a lot of journalists were working on similar types of stories. Identify the patterns and let that guide you in creating newsworthy story angles.
There is no guarantee that your client will be selected from a HARO query. After all, there are thousands upon thousands of PR pros who use this service. However, if you follow the steps above you can make the most out of this free and incredibly useful service.