Help A Reporter Out, more commonly known as HARO, is an online service founded by public relations expert Peter Shankman in 2008 that connects journalists with sources and experts. Today, over 400,000 users contribute to over 35,000 journalist requests.
This post will explain the basics as to why you should use it, how it works, and the types of results you can achieve in a short period of time.
Why Should You Use HARO?
HARO is worth your time if you are trying to drive awareness around the following opportunities:
- A Brand
- Company or C-Suite
- Consumer Product
But it can also be worth your time when using it to support an SEO backlink strategy.
If you are hoping HARO will land you in the Wall Street Journal and drive your company new business over night, it probably is not the right fit for you. (Although it has happened).
How Does HARO Work?
When you visit HARO’s website, you can either join as a source or a journalist.
If you are planning on using it for the above goals, then you would join as a source. After registering, you can select which industries you want to focus on and receive journalist requests. As an agency with many different clients in different industries, we select all of them.
Three times daily (early morning, mid afternoon, and late afternoon) you will receive an email from HARO with journalist requests. HARO never sends emails on the weekend. These email blasts look like this.
Before jumping on any HARO opportunity, do your research first. Who is the writer? Where is the story going to run? Is this media outlet a fit with your company, brand image, and/or client? Is the deadline feasible for you to gather all that is needed in one submission?
If the request is something you know you have a spokesperson to answer or the best tips to provide, you should respond as quickly as possible. As noted above, there are over 400,000 sources using and scanning HARO daily, so the journalist will most likely receive a ton of submissions. Also worth noting, the majority of deadlines for HARO queries are tight, so if you put it off until later in the day, you will most likely miss that window.
As you can see in the screen shot above, the email address in the HARO query goes to through their automated system to respect the journalist’s personal or professional email privacy. If they are a contact you’d like to follow up with or foresee potential for other opportunities down the road, you can easily perform a Google search with their name and media outlet information to pull those details for the future pitching.
Other Helpful HARO Tips
Here are some other tips to help with your HARO submissions:
- Never include attachments; they do not always go through to the journalist.
- Do not be overly promotional.
- Provide ALL details needed in your response.
- Keep in mind the tight deadlines. The journalist may just copy and paste what you submit, so write your answers as they could be published.
- Be sure to include your company name, brief background (one sentence max), spokesperson and title, social handles, and always include your company’s website for reference – this makes source attribution easily accessible.
Below is an example of the HARO request from above that our HR Specialist, Mollie Delp, helped answer.
And here was the result.
Tracking HARO Success
You can use HARO’s online platform to track the progress of your submissions, but it is rarely accurate. When actually updated, you can see if a pitch was accepted or rejected and then can Google search for the article.Occasionally, you may actually see a thumbs up or thumbs down for submission approval status, but that is only if the journalist makes the effort to go back through and submit.
How Else Can You Track HARO Success?
If you are pitching HARO for either brand awareness or link building efforts, you should have alerts set up to help track online mentions of your brand or company. We use Google Alerts and Talkwalker Alerts to track mentions. LinkedIn also now has an online media monitoring tool, if the article is posted on LinkedIn. Sometimes a good old fashioned Google search does the best trick.
Examples of HARO Success
Below are headlines of HARO successes we have had for ourselves and for our clients.
It’s a win-win for PR pros (and journalists) to take advantage of this free resource. HARO offers many low-hanging opportunities that should not be ignored. Should you exhaust all of your PR efforts into HARO? I would hope not. Use it strategically, paying attention to the tips above, and hopefully you can achieve some wins for your client(s) and develop new relationships with journalists you otherwise would have never met.
Have other tips, thoughts, or HARO wins you’d like to share? Leave a note in the comments or start a conversation with us on Twitter @WorkshopMktg!