Find reporters seeking experts like you through free services like HARO

Connecting with the media as an expert is easy when you know where to look

Working with the media can be seem frightening to some people and it need not be. Reporters are like everyone else who have a job to do and are constantly looking for sources to complete stories. Once you realize you’re an expert or have something of value to offer, it makes reaching out to them that much easier.

Services like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) make it simple to find reporters specifically working on stories and actively looking for sources. The FREE service sends you three emails per day (morning, mid-day and afternoon) containing requests by reporters seeking experts on everything on green living to product requests.

There can be days or weeks when I might not see a good fit between a reporter’s needs and my clients but other times the fit is so perfect that writing a pitch to that reporter is simple. Have I received responses from reporters? Absolutely. In fact, I probably estimate an 80% response rate particularly because I’m pretty targeted with my pitches / responses and I make sure my source or information is spot on or else I’m wasting my time and theirs. The key here is not to be “off-pitch” for several reasons:

1)    Reporters may report you to the administrator who may choose to block you from future emails.

2)    Reporters don’t like their time wasted and they don’t soon forget you’ve wasted their time so if you ever pitch again, you may not get their attention, no matter how perfect a source you may be the second time around.

3)    You’re wasting your own time. If you’re not an appropriate source, don’t try to be something you’re not. It won’t benefit you or the reporter.

How do you respond to a query?

Here are some pointers you’ll want to keep in mind when responding to any media query:

  1. Respond prior to the deadline (this is key – if you miss the deadline, your window of opportunity is lost).
  2. Include “HARO” in the subject line so the reporter will know your email is in response to their HARO query and not spam.
  3. Be succinct — Keep it short and on topic. Depending on what the reporter is asking, this could be anything between a few sentences to a couple of paragraphs.
    Include qualifications.
  4. Do not send attachments as HARO won’t include them when forwarding your response to the reporter. If you have a link, include the link. Or if the attachment is crucial (ie a hi-res jpg image), let the reporter know you have it and can send and if the reporter can use it, trust me, she or he will be in contact with you to get it. Reporters are not shy.

HARO is just one source and I like it because it’s free. There are other free ones like Reporter Connection and PitchRate but you’ll find their queries tend to focus around specific categories or types of reporters – and those may work for you better than HARO so do your research and see what you feel is worth your time. I wouldn’t recommend subscribing to all of them because you’ll see some duplication and you’ll be wasting your time. If you want to pay for a service, you’ll want to consider ProfNet which is very similar to HARO.

Have you used a service like HARO successfully? What advise would you offer others who have not tried it yet?

Megy Karydes is principal of Karydes Consulting, a boutique marketing and communications firm that specializes in working with both for profit and not-for-profit organizations. HARO is a key part of her PR plan and especially enjoys the service when she finds a reporter who is seeking experts like her clients and she can develop a long term relationship with that reporter.

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3 comments

  1. I prefer HARO to the others – I find that Reporter Connection and Pitch Rate are often full of bloggers looking for free stuff – I once even found outright spam on one of them. You don’t find that on HARO.

    • Jane, I do think each of the “reporter requests/query” services provide an opportunity for regular business owners without million dollar budgets to pitch reporters actively searching for sources, but some are better for particular media outlets than others. I agree that some services seem particular heavy on the bloggers (and that’s totally fine since many bloggers are great reporters and have a strong readership). And, yes, there are several bloggers (and even print journos) who want free items to sample. However, depending on your business, those types of requests can be of interest (especially those with products that they want reviewed). For most of my clients, though, I tend to stick with HARO because those are the type of reporters we’re trying to reach. It’s always good to know what you’re looking and get a feel for each of the services to see which ones seems to be the strongest fit for your needs. You can always unsubscribe to those you feel are a waste and only bother to read those that seem appropriate!

      Thanks for taking the time to write – I’m glad you find HARO a useful tool, too!

      ~Megy

      • I’ve been experimenting with HARO and have seen limited success; are there some other websites that you think can offer the same quality as HARO? I just signed up for reporter connection and have been seeking other websites as well.

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