Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a platform that journalists use to find experts to give insights and quotes on stories that they are working on. It can be an excellent way for smaller businesses to get the type of media coverage that usually necessitates working with a PR company.
The platform is regularly used by reporters from huge media outlets, including Forbes, New York Times, Vice Magazine and Healthline.
Here is a sample some of the high-profile publications that you can earn coverage on through HARO.
These journalists care about finding the most knowledgable answers to their questions, meaning that if you can provide the type of insight that journalists are looking for, you can get coverage for your business regardless of its size.
Here we will explain how to use HARO in a way that maximizes your chances of being featured.
Speed is everything
Often when journalists look for sources on HARO their publishing deadline is the same day as the information is requested. This means that being one of the first to give a good response vastly improves your chances of being featured.
The people behind HARO have confirmed this themselves, saying that 70% of journalists find their source on HARO within an hour of their questions being published.
HARO questions are released at the same time every weekday, these are 5:45AM, 12:45PM, and 5:45 PM EDT. Try to commit a bit of time at one of these timeslots each day to answer the newly released questions.
If you respond to one of these more than an hour after it is released, your chances of being featured falls significantly.
Answer questions thoroughly
As important as timeliness in your answers is the precision and thoroughness in which you answer the questions posed by journalists.
HARO is a fairly well-known platform, meaning that there is a fair degree of competition for coverage.
Despite this, you still stand a very good chance of being featured if you answer questions as thoroughly as possible. Journalists will often pose several questions, and the best way of structuring your answer is to write each question out in bold and treat them as individual subheadings. Provide a complete answer to each posed question.
As well as ensuring that you provide an in-depth and well-rounded answer, presenting your response in this way can help journalists scan through your answer and pick out what they need. This can make your response appealing to a journalist with a tight deadline.
Provide all requested information
When requesting sources through HARO, journalists often request certain specific pieces of information that they want a source to provide about themselves.
This is usually to contextualize the quotes that are provided, and so journalists can properly cite the commentary that they use.
This information is usually stated at the end of a request, after the main questions are asked, so be sure to keep an eye out for this information.
Information that is typically requested include:
- Full name
- Company name
- Position in company
- A brief bio
- A headshot
Images are not rendered properly in HAROs platform, so if a headshot is requested make sure you provide a link to one in your email rather than attaching an image or pasting an image straight into the email.
Do not attempt to sell your product or service in your answer
This is perhaps the most common mistake that wannabe sources make when responding to HARO requests. They see it as an opportunity to broadcast a sales pitch.
Journalists are looking for expert insight, rather than offering free advertising, so do not try to sell your product or service when pitching to a journalist. Often journalists ask for sources to specifically not to pitch themselves in their answers, and even the ones who do not generally assume that this is inappropriate.
The only exception to this is when a journalists requests specific products to review, usually in a roundup. This happens occasionally but is far from the norm.
What does success look like when using HARO?
It can take a few weeks of consistently answering questions in HARO to get your head around what journalists are looking for. However, once you have gotten into a groove you can expect conversion rates of over 10%.
Considering that around 250 requests are made through HARO each day, it is not inconceivable to land a couple of high-profile media mentions each week.
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- How to Use HARO to Land Free Press Coverage for Your Business - September 17, 2020