TOW: HARO: Help A Reporter Out

With Haro you are given the oppurtunity to tap into the largest source repository in the world with over 80,000 mainstreet and expert sources who will respond directly to your query on your terms. The days of searching out-of-date databases, or being bothered by unsolicited sources with off-topic pitches are over. All you have to do is submit your query and let HARO deliver the perfect sources right to your inbox. From The New York Times, to ABC News, to and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources in their stories.

Everyone’s an expert at something, so sharing your expertise may land you that big media opportunity you’ve been looking for. Peter Shankman, HARO’s founder, has made it his personal mission to connect businesses with the media professionals who can provide them with coverage,  and vice versa. HARO, which he founded in 2008 and sold to Vocus in 2010, seems to have been created with small businesses in mind. The online service can turn any company into a source for a deadline-driven journalist on any given day—for no charge whatsoever. Yes, you read that correctly, it’s a free service.

As a PR practitioner, this a great tool to use for obvious reasons, especially for free media coverage. Below are 5 tips that I revised from that assist with helping you to achieve that free coverage!

  • Be quick. HARO is sent to approximately 200,000 email addresses, which means reporters are inundated with responses. If you don’t respond quickly, your pitch might get lost in the shuffle. Many reporters don’t read all the responses. They read until they find the source(s) they need and then move on. As soon as that email lands in your inbox, open it, skim the queries and respond to the ones that make sense.
  • Be relevant. Don’t pitch off-topic. If a reporter is looking for divorced dads – an actual query from Tuesday morning – don’t pitch a happily married wife. That actually could get you banned from HARO. Offer some details about what you can add. Make the reporter understand why you’re the best source for their story.
  • Highlight your credentials. Some queries call for “regular people.” However, it seems like most HARO queries are looking for someone with specific expertise. Pitches shouldn’t  be overly self-promotional, but you should highlight your credentials.  Written a book? Won an award? Regarded as an industry leader? Mention  that in your response. Even if you’re not award-winning, explain why your background or life experiences make you an appropriate source.
  • Be findable. If  you respond to a query, make sure you’re available to respond to the reporter’s follow-up questions. Include your email, telephone, cell phone and maybe even your Twitter handle in your response. The idea is to make it as easy as possible for the reporter to connect with you.
  • Build relationships. PR is a relationship business. If you are included in a story through HARO, be sure to thank the reporter. If the reporter is on Twitter, include  their handle when you tweet it out to your followers. Then, keep in touch with that reporter. Don’t be spammy, but feel free to check in every once  in a while. Got a story that might interest them? Send it their way. (Bonus points if you’re just being a resource and the story has nothing to do with you.) Pay attention to see if they receive a promotion, change beats or even media outlets. Build a relationship, and the next time they need a  source, they may contact you directly.

Image via