HARO: Easy-to-Use, Low-Hanging PR Fruit

Read more from Scott Cytron here and in the "PR Matters" archive.

In a time of our lives in which we want most nonbillable activities fast and easy, I have a public relations tip for you that has brought success to one of my clients no less than three times in the last month.

It’s HARO, an acronym for Help a Reporter Out. There’s no need to know much about the background associated with HARO and how it started; what you really want to know is how to use it to your advantage.

HARO is a database reporters use to find sources for stories they are working on. I recently wrote about how it would be beneficial for you to take a reporter to lunch in order to establish a relationship. By all means, you should still do that, but what HARO does is enable you to respond to reporter queries that you normally would never know about, all for free and with a very minimal time commitment.

This is the power of PR: the ability to have your name, expertise, and knowledge included in a third-party format. The end result is that you might receive referrals or questions about your practice based on these types of articles.

Here are three recent examples that came from Andrew Poulos responding directly to HARO queries:

Here are four steps to get started:

1. Go to HARO’s website, and read through the options. Note: There are paid and free options. Click on “Sign Up Today,” and you’ll be directed to the page with these options. I see no reason why you should pay for this service, so click on “Basic Free,” and sign up for the daily newsletter. You’ll get an activation e-mail to begin your subscription.

2. What you’ll receive are e-mails delivered three times a day with what reporters need, and you can ask for the feeds by category. For example, if you are an accountant, select “Business and Finance” or any category you like. In my work, I selected “Business and Finance” and “High-Tech.”

3. Each entry will include a description of what the reporter is looking for and how to respond. For example, here’s one that came today: “How to Avoid Fighting When You Discuss Money,” with the summary, “Discussing money can get heated. How can you avoid fighting when
 you discuss money? Would appreciate four or five strategies
 couples can employ to maintain sanity while discussing money.” Requirements included “Prefer a relationship expert or financial coach,” and the deadline to respond via a secure e-mail address is by 10 a.m. on the next business day.

4. When you send the e-mail, describe yourself, what you do, and why you’re qualified to be a source for the story. Keep your response short and to the point! Don’t fluff it up with colorful language or superlatives; this only serves to annoy reporters, and you won’t get a response.

Try to peruse the e-mails when they come in; some have immediate response deadlines, while others may give you as long as a week.

That’s all there is to it. It’s up to the reporters to contact you back. Do not, by any means, contact the reporter directly if his or her information is included in the original query. Imagine being the reporter and besieged by hundreds of e-mails or calls.

One note: If you do not get any kind of response from the reporter, don’t fret. You either didn’t fit what the reporter wanted or perhaps the reporter found someone before you responded.

Relax, and wait for the results!

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