Help A Reporter Out, also known as “HARO,” is a service that’s free for use by businesses and individuals wishing to serve as journalistic sources of information. Upon signing up for the service, sources receive three e-mails per day, each featuring a categorized list of queries posted by journalists seeking sources for their work. Categories range from business and finance, to consumer goods, to health and wellness, and so on. Queries themselves also range from broad-based to hyper-specific, with some even posting specific qualifications for sources (e.g., seeking the opinions of doctors only for a piece related to flu season, etc.).
Businesses can make use of HARO by identifying and responding to queries specifically in their professional topic areas. For instance, a cybersecurity firm may find value in responding to queries about the latest data breach. A sommelier, likewise, will find no shortage of opportunities to render value by responding to the near-constant stream of queries related to selecting the best wine for some specific occasion or purpose.
With respect to the journalists themselves, some are freelance, and others are regular and/or staff contributors to major publications and news outlets. We’ve seen requests coming from journalists working on pieces for outlets like The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, and countless other high-visibility publications.
In terms of how best to be successful, we can share a few key insights we’ve picked up along the way.
First, the e-mails are long and, if left unchecked, will stack up quickly. It’s best to carve out 15-20 minutes per day to give them a scan. Also, Ctrl+F (or Cmd+F, if you’re a Mac person) is your friend. Use it to search queries for your key terms. In order to view the full list, you might need to hit “View on web” or the similar link at the bottom of the e-mail if your e-mail client truncates messages. Again: these e-mails are long.
Second, be direct and up-front with your response. Put your quotable response first (indicating that it’s quotable directly), then a sentence or two about who you / your organization are, and why you’re a credible source on the topic of the query.
Third, include a bio picture and link to your / your organization’s media kit, if you have one. Ensure that you’ve secured all of the relevant rights for the images you include, and explicitly indicate that the journalist is able to use the images if they wish.
Finally, be sure to include contact information, highlighting your / your organization’s website, and request that the citation in the published article / work include a link back to your website. (We’ll write about the importance of off-page SEO in another post.)
Now, sometimes journalists will reach back out to thank you for your submission, particularly in cases where they’ve been able to include your material. However, that isn’t always the case. So, it’s vital to set up web alerts, such as Google Alerts, on your / your organization’s name and website to ensure that you’re notified in some way in the event you’re mentioned in press.
As always, should you have any questions about anything contained within this blog post, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us via call, text or e-mail using the contact details listed in our site footer, or via the form below.
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