HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a fantastic free online resource that helps business owners, authors and other experts connect with TV, radio and print journalists. Recently however, I’ve spoken to experts who are not sure how to use it. If you are one of them, this article provides some simple tips for how to make HARO work for you.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the site, it sends out three publicity alert emails each day filled with queries from the media. The journalists posting the queries spell out the kinds of experts they want to speak with and the issues they would like them to weigh in on. The queries are organized into 8 categories: Biotech and Healthcare, Business and Finance, General, High Tech, Lifestyle and Fitness, Public Policy and Government, Sports and Travel.
How to Make it Work
• Read each email right away and respond immediately to any queries that you think you are right for. The adage, the early bird gets the worm definitely applies to most HARO queries because the media who post them are generally dealing with tight deadlines and so they tend to get in touch with the people who pitch them first, assuming those individuals fit the bill, rather than waiting to review every pitch they receive as a result of their queries.
• When you are responding to a query, keep your response short and to the point. Most media people are not going to take the time to read a treatise. Briefly state that you are available to discuss the subject of their query and then highlight what makes you qualified to do so -- your experience, the nature of your business, the subject of the book you’ve written, and so on. Include a link to your website for more information.
• Put your most important information first. A journalist focus just on what is in the first paragraph of your email and not read any farther.
• Bear in mind when you respond to a query that you are really writing a sales pitch – a pitch that sells you. So make it crystal clear why you most qualified to weigh in on the subject of the query. Avoid overstatement and hype, however.
• Don’t respond to a query if you cannot offer the journalist exactly what he or she is looking for. For example, if a reporter says she wants to talk with small business owners between the ages of 25 and 45 who are located in the Chicago area, don’t respond if you are 50 and your business is located in Phoenix. You’re wasting your time and the journalist’s too.
• Provide a full response to a journalist’s query. Read the query completely and then give the journalist exactly what he or she wants. For example, if the journalist poses questions, answer them and if the journalist asks for specific information, provide it. If you only give a half answer, you may jeopardize your chances of being interviewed.
• Include the subject line of the journalist’s query in your response unless the journalist asks you to use a different subject line.
• Include your contact information in your response. And if the journalist gets in touch, respond right away.
Something Else You Should Know
When you go to HARO's website, you'll notice that although you can receive its emails for free, you can also purchase one of three different publicity alert packages ranging in price from $19/month to $149/month. Although the more expensive the package, the more features you can take advantage of, all three packages let you: post an online profile at the site; receive HARO emails as texts on your mobile phone; and search the site's media interview opportunity database 24/7.
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