Making HARO Work for You
Help a Reporter Out, better known as HARO, is an extremely popular (and free!) online resource for learning about opportunities to do interviews with top journalists about specific topics. (According to the web site, more than 50,000 journalists use it.)
If you are not already receiving HARO’s three daily (weekdays only) emails, sign up here.
Each HARO email organizes journalist queries into one of eight different categories:
1. Biotech and Healthcare
2. Business and Finance
5. Entertainment and Media
6. High Tech
7. Public Policy and Government
According to HARO, more than 100,000 sources or experts respond to queries posted on the site. So competition for a journalist's attention can be fierce. However, if you follow the advice below, you’ll increase the likelihood that your response to a journalist's query will land you an interview:
• Be brief, interesting and direct in your email response. Limit your response to just a few short paragraphs and get to the point immediately. Also, catch the journalist’s attention with interesting details; but don’t include in your pitch information that has nothing to do with the subject of the query.
• Be clear about why you are qualified to weigh in on the subject of a journalist's query.
• Respond ONLY if you can offer exactly what a journalist is looking for. Most journalists who post queries on HARO are very specific about the information they are seeking. So don’t pitch a journalist on a topic that is somewhat related to his or her query or on a topic that has nothing to do at all with the query. Also, it’s not unusual for journalists to specify that they want to speak with someone in a particular part of the country. Therefore, if a journalist writes that he or she wants to hear from experts on the East Coast and you’re in the MidWest, don’t respond. Finally, avoid generic responses. For example, don’t copy a press release or fact sheet about yourself, your business or your book and paste it into your e-mail. If you want a shot at attention from a journalist, take the time to craft a specific response to his or her query.
• Address everything in a journalist’s query. If the journalist asks for specific information or poses questions that he or she wants answered, provide the information and answer the questions -- all of them, not just some of them. Following directions increases the likelihood that you’ll hear from the journalist.
• Be careful about the subject line in your response. If a journalist asks you to use a specific subject line, do so. Otherwise, it’s best to use the subject line the journalist used in his or her query.
• Include the URL for your web site in your response. Don’t expect a journalist to search for the site or to contact you for it.
• Respect deadlines. Journalists tend to work with short deadlines. So when you see a query that applies to you, jump on it! Usually, the sooner you respond to a query, the better your chance of being contacted by the journalist who posted it. Also, if a journalist provides a specific deadline for responses, don’t respond two days after the deadline has expired. You’ll be wasting your time.
• Provide your contact information. Make sure that your response includes information regarding how the journalist can get in touch with you right away.
• Avoid attachments. Including attachments with your response makes it likely that the journalist will never see what you've written because your email will probably not end up in his or her email inbox. If you have a document, a photo, or a video that you think would be of interest to the journalist, indicate that fact in your response and let the journalist decide if he or she wants to see it.
• Respect the Rules of Haro.
You can read those rules here.
By the way, there are two other online sources for media queries that you should know about -- Reporter Connection and PitchRate.com. Although neither of them matches HARO in terms of their variety and caliber of media queries, I have used both resources to land some good interview opportunities for a couple clients.
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