Photo by Vanilla Bear Films
Getting featured by giant news media like CNN or the New York Times as an expert source can promise great exposure, ranking boost, and increased traffic to your website.
But how can you make sure that a Guardian or Forbes reporter chooses your response out of the hundreds of other pitches they receive daily? Why would these big players care to quote YOU as an expert, especially when you’re just starting out?
That’s where HARO comes into the picture.
Journalists and bloggers are also always looking for reliable sources of information to cite in their upcoming stories and articles. Their inboxes may be full of messages from aspiring experts, but that’s not what they’re looking for!
HARO lets reporters post their queries on their platform so that you can respond to them as an expert source and establish your authority. This way, journalists don’t have to look high and low for credible sources, and you don’t have to spend resources on outreach to get quoted by renowned websites. A win-win, isn’t it!
But not every response gets picked by HARO. You may have to send many pitches before you get a placement. So, many people wonder if HARO’s worth the effort, and is there anything they can do to make sure they’re selected.
But first, here’s how you can get started with HARO.
How Does HARO Work?
HARO can potentially connect 75000+ journalists, bloggers, and media tycoons with more than one million experts from different industries.
HARO or Help A Reporter has a massive database of journalists and experts. You can join HARO as a journalist or as a source. Journalists who seek advice and opinions from experts post their queries on HARO.
The HARO editorial team verifies those queries and sends emails to registered expert sources. Sources, i.e., you, then respond to those queries. If you’re selected, your words appear in renowned publications as an expert opinion.
You can select the niche or industry relevant to you to receive only those requests that match your expertise.
This way, HARO saves journalists’ time finding an expert for their stories. At the same time, it saves the time you spend doing cold outreach. The backlinks you get from HARO are typically from high authority sites compared to those you can get through guest posting.
Here’s a step-by-step on how to get started with HARO as a niche expert.
- Sign up with HARO as a source and fill the form.
- Select your timezone.
- Select the industry(ies) to get relevant requests only.
- Select how many times you wish to receive emails.
- Read the email and click on a query to read more about it.
- Write the pitch, and when you’re ready to submit, click on the My Pitches tab in HARO.
- Click on Submit a New Pitch.
- Enter the reporter’s email address given in the query you received in the email.
- Enter your pitch and click submit.
Is HARO Worth the Effort?
The world of media is all about NOW! If you’re an expert in your niche and have the credibility to back it, you deserve a vast readership and popularity that is possible with HARO.
But, according to HARO, “requests do not result in guaranteed story inclusion, and HARO requests are not always legit.” Moreover, HARO has been around since 2008, and there’s hardly anyone who doesn’t know about it or hasn’t responded to its queries.
So, it’s only logical if you’re wondering, is it worth my time to respond to HARO queries?
Let’s have a look!
HARO is Too Popular
That’s true… According to HARO, more than a million expert sources worldwide are registered on HARO, and the journalists seeking their expertise are not even a third. A single HARO query can get hundreds of responses, so the chances of getting quoted can be quite slim. Even if you have all the credentials and your pitch is perfect, your answer may still get lost in the sea of replies.
But despite the rush, people do get accepted through HARO and get placements in renowned publications like Guardian, Forbes, or WebMD. Typically HARO journalists place your responses on a credible high DA website, so you need only a handful of positive placements to reach and exceed your outreach goals.
HARO emails have an overwhelming number of requests. But not all of them are credible, professional, or worth responding to. Some might not even be legit.
For example, beware of the requests looking for an opinion on controversial issues. You don’t want to get involved in a controversy or become a target of negative publicity. Similarly, some people try to use HARO to get quotes from credible sources about doubtful products, unapproved or unregistered by the concerned certifying institutions.
You also may NOT want to respond to requests that may not give you due credit. Being mindful of which offers you respond can save you from a lot of headaches.
Lot of Requests
Each HARO email has many requests, and many marketers and sources find it overwhelming to traverse them all on time and then carve the perfect response for the selected ones. The abundance of HARO requests can be a blessing or a bane depending on how you tackle them.
It can be less overwhelming if you carefully select the industries for which you wish to receive requests. Then select the most relevant queries that match your credentials and target audience. Be picky, and you won’t find HARO requests overwhelming. For example, below is an email for the Lifestyle and Fitness Industry with only 20 queries to scroll through.
HARO can get you free PR with the big fish in the market who might not have responded to your cold outreach campaigns. It can prove to be the quickest way to brand yourself as an expert and get visibility in front of a new and broad readership. Backlinks from high-authority websites are a bonus.
Easy peasy, right? Well… maybe, if you know all the tricks to get chosen by the journalists!
10 Tips For Getting Chosen By HARO Reporters
Thousands of experts, including your competitors, can be monitoring their emails to select the most suitable HARO queries and pitch a perfect response. Getting recognized as an expert can be an enormous boost to your content marketing efforts. But it’s not easy to get selected out of a sea of responses, each better than the other.
You need to be genuinely helpful and keep the end-users in mind while crafting your pitch. You’ve got to answer the query, satisfy the journalists’ requirements, win their trust, and stay true to your brand voice, all at the same time.
Don’t be scared! It’s not as difficult as it may seem if you follow the time-tested tips and tricks to get noticed by the reporters and win yourself exceptional HARO placements.
Here’s how you can optimize your HARO responses to get quoted for your chosen requests.
HARO is time-sensitive!
Typically HARO sends out emails three times a day, and people from all over the world respond to them. Since a typical journalist may get hundreds of responses to a single query, so they are more likely to quote some of the earlier pitches they receive.
For example, if they want only 10 responses, they’ll start from the first responses and stop searching when they pick the tenth one. You must be in those earlier ones to increase your chances of getting selected. If you couldn’t respond to an email in a few hours, discard it and wait for the next one.
Respond to Relevant Queries Only
HARO prefers quality over quantity. You don’t need to respond to every query that’s remotely related to your expertise. If you’re a shoe vendor and respond to a question for thermal jackets, the audience won’t read your content, and the journalist won’t accept you as an authority.
When you join HARO, you are subscribed to the Master List automatically. But, you don’t need to spend your time sifting through requests for other niches. Don’t overwhelm yourself and subscribe to your niche only and then respond to the queries that match your expertise to the T. If the journalist wants responses from PhDs, don’t respond if you’re not one!
Consider getting the paid subscription to set keywords based alerts to narrow down your niche alerts further.
Keep Your Pitch Short and Sweet
When a journalist will see long walls of text, the very first thing they’ll do is never read it!
Nobody wants to read essays about why you’re a perfect fit for the quote. They do want to know if you’re qualified enough to answer their query, so include only the relevant details that establish your authority for sharing your opinion.
Similarly, keep your response short and to-the-point. If you need to add details, use bulleted points as they’re easy to scan. Nobody loves fluff, unnecessary jargon, and buzzwords.
For instance, let’s say the question is ‘lead generation ideas’ for a blog post. Don’t talk about what lead generation is and how it benefits a business. Make yourself quotable by giving a precise answer i.e one or two lead generation ideas. Your response is to be included in the story as a quotation of 2-3 sentences at the most; no need to write a full article for it.
Be Unique and Personal
You’re not the only person preparing a pitch for a response; there are a hundred more. So, don’t quote the answers everyone knows and expects. If you can make yourself different from all the respondents, you are halfway across.
For instance, if the query requires ‘favorite author from Brazil,’ don’t name Paulo Coelho instantly. Instead, think of another Brazillian author you admire and give your readers the reasons why you opted for a different response than others. You have many to choose from.
If your response is unique and aligned to the reporter’s instructions, your chances of getting chosen will be higher. Don’t forget to show your uniqueness in the subject line as well. Make it directly relevant to the main question so that the journalist can feel confident to open it.
Don’t Promote Yourself Or Add Links
Everyone knows you’re responding to HARO queries to promote yourself and win back a rightful backlink, but you don’t have to sound salesy to achieve that. First, don’t attach any files to your pitch because such responses are automatically filtered out to protect journalists.
Secondly, if your responses are to-the-point and you’re providing valuable information to the journalists, you’re indirectly promoting yourself anyway, but in the right way. Going over-the-top and pitching products or services can hurt your chances!
Unnecessary promotion can put off the journalists, and they may send you to spam or report you, in which case you can get blacklisted or permanently removed from HARO. So, proceed wisely, and if you’re providing value, you will receive it too.
Send As Publish-Ready Content As Possible
Typically journalists are pressed for time, so don’t send them half-baked replies. If they have to edit your pitch for obvious issues, more likely they’ll choose some other response no matter how unique and timely your pitch was. Don’t expect them to edit your replies when they’ve got so many more good ones to choose from.
Edit your responses to polish them and include all the details so that the journalists can quickly take what they want. Offer to follow up but don’t count on it. They will probably be on a tight deadline and won’t have time for back and forth communication, so don’t miss important info.
Add Your Credentials For Quick Source Attribution
Journalists head over to HARO when they require credible sources for their stories. If you’re an expert in your niche, make it easier for the journalist to confirm it. Have you been published in an esteemed newspaper, magazine, or journal? Mention it. HARO appreciates legit citation.
Brag about your credentials but keep them concise and relevant. Add links to your social media accounts, publications, and any other ways that allow the journalist to confirm and cite you quickly and easily.
Build Authentic Journalist Relationships
Whether you’re a good source or a PR rep, nurturing relationships with journalists goes a long way. More than half of the American journalists value their relationships with PR pros.
If you see a familiar name on HARO, don’t shy away from mentioning the connection. Did you work with them previously? Were you introduced to an event or attended a virtual conference together?
Journalists love to hear from a person they know because they feel confident in quoting them as reliable sources. Similarly, if you get accepted and published, send them a thank you email or better, send a handwritten note to show your sincere gratitude. Also, share their article on social media and any other place where your audience hangs out.
Use Google Alerts for Name Mentions
Most of the time, if journalists decide to quote you, they inform you when the article goes live. But sometimes placements can go unnotified as well. It’s impolite to follow up, asking whether you’ve been chosen or not. But if you don’t hear back from them, it doesn’t always mean you’ve been rejected.
To not miss any mentions, create Google Alerts for your name, website, keywords associated with your business, or any contact info. So, next time a magazine or any other outlet mentions you as a source, you will get notifications so you can follow up.
Send Response to HARO Email Only
Many of the respondents go to unnecessary lengths to find the reporters’ contact information. Instead of sending their pitches to the designated HARO address, sources send their pitches directly to the journalists’ primary inbox. They think that they will bypass the other HARO replies and catch the reporters’ attention by doing so.
On the contrary, journalists get many emails to their primary inbox too, and most journalists don’t check their primary inbox as often. So, there’s a big chance that they won’t check their primary inbox if a deadline is approaching. But, they will check their HARO inbox when they sit down to write their article.
Let’s assume they do find your pitch in their primary inbox in time; chances are they’ll forget about it once they’re going through other equally impressive pitches in HARO. So it’s better to stick to the HARO platform so that your pitch can make its way into the publication.
HARO is an excellent platform to boost your online presence and escalate your outreach. But since it’s too popular, you need to hone in your pitching and editing skills to catch the reporters’ eye and satisfy them enough to get a placement.
Prompt response is crucial. Follow the tips to get chosen by HARO reporters, but getting placed and earning backlinks from irrelevant websites won’t bear any fruit. Instead, focus on building authentic relations with the journalists and pitching to requests where you can be of genuine help to the target platform’s readers.
Karli is a content marketer and founder of the boutique agency JuiceBox. With over 10 years in the marketing industry, she’s worked with brands large and small across many industries to grow organic traffic and reach new audiences. She writes on everything from content marketing, social and SEO to travel and real estate. On the weekends, she loves to explore new places, enjoy the outdoors and have a glass or two of vino!