Updated: Aug 10
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is one of the easiest and least well-known tools to get free publicity to your business, gain external links, and boost your SEO.
HARO is a tool that connects news sources with journalists. And guess what? As a business owner, you’re a news source!
It’s an excellent resource that you can use to get instant publicity for your business on top media sites from CBS to BuzzFeed, and it’s all done through a FREE, easy to use subscription service.
Read on to learn everything you need to know about how to effectively use HARO to your advantage.
It’s a free subscription service that provides journalists with a strong database of sources for upcoming news stories and an opportunity for sources (that’s you!) to secure valuable media coverage.
The benefits to sources are twofold: you get free media coverage for your business and industry AND you’ll gain backlinks from authority news sites. If you are familiar with off-site SEO, you know that backlinks are one of the most powerful tools to increase your Google rankings, but can also be one of the most arduous tasks to accomplish.
The great thing about using HARO is that the journalists come to you. This is different from traditional link-building strategies where you’re required to do all the outreach and put in all the leg-work.
What’s even better is that all the major media outlets are using this service; we aren’t talking about small beans local news outlets. We’re talking Time, Wall Street Journal, CNN, Mashable, just to name a few.
This opportunity to get great press coverage and land high-authority backlinks to your site is ripe for the taking and we’re going to break down exactly how to effectively use HARO so you can start using this free resource to your advantage.
To get started, sign up for your free subscription and you’ll immediately start getting master emails three times per day. The emails will come with PR leads broken down by category, like business, technology, lifestyle, etc.
You can further filter down the emails by only checking the categories that apply to your specific industry, however, we recommend that you don’t do that. While you may have to weed through more emails every day, you don’t want to miss out on the perfect opportunity because it came through a category that you didn’t select as relevant.
Keep your options open! Sometimes great opportunities are filed under the “general” list and if you’re only receiving business and technology leads, you’ll miss out.
When you receive the email, you’ll see the title of the opportunity and then the media outlet in brackets. Scan through the lists as they come in, and if something catches your eye, jump on it!
It’s one thing to use HARO and it’s another thing to use it effectively. We’re going to tell exactly how to be effective and increase your chances of getting the coverage so you’re not wasting a lot of time and energy without seeing a return.
Here are our best 6 tips:
1. Respond QUICKLY—Don’t Waste Any Time
The number one HARO success factor is catching and responding to a lead QUICKLY. This is why it’s important to take a quick scan of your HARO emails as soon as they hit your inbox. You can even set an alert for them, so you’re notified immediately. As soon as they come through, take a quick minute to scan the index to see if any of the opportunities pique your interest and look promising.
The bigger the news outlet that’s offering the opportunity, the more responses they’re going to receive so you’ve got to be on top of your game if you want a shot at snagging the good leads!
2. Have a UNIQUE Response
Reporters are going to get a lot of responses from sources looking to get featured; make sure your response stands out! Without overthinking your response or taking too much time to ponder it, craft a unique reply.
If possible, don’t take the conventional route with your response. Provide value and insight that’s unique to you and your business. Think outside the box a little to catch the attention of the reporter.
3. ANSWER the Question Directly!
While it’s important to make your response unique, it still has to follow the requirements of the query! Failure to answer the question directly and follow the requirements will only serve to make sure your response is deleted before it’s even properly considered.
Once you’ve identified an opportunity that’s right up your alley, take around 30 minutes or so to craft your pitch. Typically, the reporter will provide explicit instructions for you to follow—take heed and follow them!
4. Always Attach a Headshot Directly to Your Email and Keep a Killer Bio on Hand With Your Credentials
Once you’ve written your response, before you submit your email for consideration, be sure you attach a headshot and include your bio in your email reply.
In the chance that your response is chosen and gets published, you want all the credit you can get, and you don’t want the reporter to have to chase you down for additional information!
For maximum efficiency, draft a killer bio and have it saved and ready to copy and paste into every email intro you send out.
5. Make Sure to Include Your Social Channels and Your Website URL
And don’t forget to include your socials and website URL so people know where to find you! Effectively using HARO means you’re giving yourself the most coverage and opportunities to get your business seen and heard—so make it simple for people to connect and engage with you further!
Links to your website and socials are the perfect way to capture new faces and bring them directly to you and your brand.
6. Keep An Eye Out for Your News Placement
Since reporters often get hundreds of responses to their queries, it’s not uncommon to not hear back if yours isn’t chosen. You may not even hear back if you are chosen.
Hopefully, you’ll hear back from the reporter if they would like to talk to you further and use your tips in their story, however, you won't always get a response! Your information may just get published.
The best way to monitor your news placement is to set up a Google alert for your name and subscribe to the news outlet’s feed. If the reporter fails to let you know that he or she is using your information in their story, you’ll get an alert!
If your submission gets chosen, celebrate! Post it to your blog and mention it on your socials! Getting featured in a news story is a victory that should be celebrated.
Don’t forget to send a quick thank you note to the reporter, too.
If you’ve been looking for a way to get exposure in some of the biggest news outlets in the world, boost your SEO, and increase your brand awareness—get started today with our tips on how to effectively use HARO.
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