If you’ve caught me on podcasts, seen me on stage, watched my free video course or webinar, or have been reading my blog, By now you’ve probably heard me mention HARO, but you may still be confused as to what it is and why you should get started with this service. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a FREE service for journalists to connect with experts on everything from politics to plumbing. An email is sent out three times a day full of requests from journalists that need quotes or information from people who really know their industries. If you’re an expert at something, ANYTHING, you should definitely subscribe.
HARO is a great way for finding opportunities to serve reporters, but let me tell you, it can be quite a bit of work. I’ve had years of experience working with this service and I have discovered…
There are three main things you need to do in order to win at HARO.
You need to give the writer/journalist EXACTLY what they are looking for. If they are just looking for a quote, send them a quote and that’s it.
There are some major mistakes that can be made when using HARO and the biggest one is having an agenda when contacting a reporter. I’ve seen experts contribute to a journalist and say something along the lines of “I saw your request on HARO and I’d love to be an expert for you! Here is my email address, phone number, etc. Let’s talk!” By doing this, you’ve completely ignored the request. Let me repeat this:
Do exactly what the reporter wants and that’s it. If they didn't request to become friends first, be friendly – but get right to the point. Chances are, they are on a deadline – and just need something they can copy & paste.
If the reporter wants to contact you for more information or an introduction, that is up to them, but I wouldn’t expect anything. The sole purpose of HARO is to help the REPORTER out, not weasel your way into the inboxes of journalists, so keep that in mind.
Let me help set some expectations: Don’t expect the journalists to contact you in any way. The best thing to do after sending in your quote or information is to monitor google to see if you were quoted in the media. I recommend using Google Alerts (free) or if you want some enhanced monitoring, mention.com’s solo plan ($29/month) to keep up to date on when your company is mentioned or used in any media. Any upendPR member gets the professional level Mention.com monitoring – which you might consider if you want to get serious about this.
Now that I’ve mentioned what shouldn’t be in your email, here is what really should be included. You need a BRIEF intro and a good outro that help build and establish authority. It’s important to show them that you know what you are talking about and you are credible enough to give that quote you are sharing. The intro is where you show authority, while your outro includes links to your bio, press kit, website and social media for the reporter to check out.
You need to have authority. When you contact someone through HARO, they need to see you as credible before they use the information you’ve sent.
The intro and outro of your email are the first way for you to show your credibility, but it’s more than what you say when it comes to authority, it’s what your website, google search results, and social media say as well.
If a reporter goes to your website or checks you out on social media and it doesn’t look like you have any authority, they are most likely going to pass up on using your quote. They don’t want to put their name on a piece that has a quote from someone who doesn’t actually know what he/she is talking about. Your whole online presence should exude the perception that you are knowledgeable about your industry and communicate the level of authority you have.
Authority is a currency. When you have lots of it, things tend to work out in your favor – including getting traction with your PR work. Growing authority is what upendPR.com specializes in. Watch the video at the top of this page for more about this topic.
You need to be fast!! Each request could have upwards of 200 responses, so if you’re not one of the first responders, chances are it will never be seen.
Being quick with responding can mean the difference between being response number 3 and 203. Keep in mind that even if you aren’t the first person to contact that reporter, you still might have a chance of having your quote used. Most of what is sent to those reporters aren't so great. They have to sift through quite a bit of garbage to find something that fits exactly what they need.
Let me warn you now: if you’re going to turn something in, make it good. You need to make sure it’s well put together and free of errors. Don’t be one of the responses that got turned down because you forgot to add your links or had grammar or spelling errors. Yes – it happens… all… the… time…
At upendPR, we are huge friends of HARO!! Any of our paid membership levels give our members early access to targeted HARO requests. Not only are these clients getting to see the journalists’ requests HOURS before everyone else, but they are only receiving targeted requests on topics of which they are considered to be experts. Our upendPR members are also coached on the best way to respond to these journalists. I've been a syndicated newspaper columnist for nearly a decade and it's very helpful to speak ‘Journalese’ when working with the press.
If you’re following all of my tips from above AND only using the free version of HARO, your placement rate you can probably get your placement rate up to 20% – but it strongly depends on how competitive your industry is with other experts looking to help journalists.
Our members who use the Agency-level of HARO with upendPR can see placement rates at about 1 out of 3 HARO requests they reply to, and in some cases, even 1 out of 2. That’s a 50% placement rate!! Some of the members are getting 3-5 media placements a month. Some are even getting more than 40 placements in a month. This is the equivalent of what would be many, many, many thousands of dollars in advertising. This is a huge ROI!
Now you may be thinking, why should I do HARO? I’m busy and I don’t have the time to read all of those requests and send emails to what are often smaller media outlets.
While the traffic and high authority SEO pickup from the media placement can be nice, the most valuable thing you will likely get out of this is a relationship with the journalist or influencer. Here at upendPR, we want to connect our members with as many journalists and influencers as possible. When you are consistently serving journalists on HARO, the journalists will start coming to you directly. We see this all the time with our members.
They recognize that you helped them out in a previous story – and if you served them well, they’ll likely want to hear what you think about different stories in your industry. Generally, for the writer, it's much easier to go directly to a trusted source than to submit a request through HARO. I want that trusted source to be you!
I don’t care how busy the business is, helping a reporter out will repay you in much better ways than an ad or paid exposure ever could.
If you are the owner of your business, you have one task that takes precedence over all other tasks: Grow your business. I know as entrepreneurs there is an infinite number of activities we can focus on.
I have found that the two best activities to grow your business are 1. Network with influencers, and 2. Serve large audiences. If you are diligent and consistent, HARO will help you do both. This means reaching out to journalists and other influencers in service should take precedence over other day-to-day activity. I’ve had a standard practice over the past 11 years of working with media while growing businesses… When a journalist contacts me via email, social media, or phone, I drop nearly anything I’m working on and I help them. As a result of my dedication to serving them, I’ve built an enormous network of influencers who I am able to work with on a regular basis.