HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, bills itself as “the most popular sourcing service in the English-speaking world,” connecting expert sources with more than 50,000 journalists and bloggers. Those numbers make HARO a potential gold mine for PR professionals or experts looking to be quoted in a high-profile story or increase their SEO placement with online quotes and links — but it also makes it hard to distinguish yourself from the crowd. Below, are 5 ways to improve your chances of getting quoted by a reporter at HARO.
When journalists send out a pitch or query to the HARO audience, it’s delivered to more than 800,000 potential sources. That means you’re in a race to make yourself as visible as possible, as quickly as possible, before the reporter chooses another source and closes the query. If you’re a PR professional or an expert trying to connect with journalists, here’s how to stand out from the crowd:
1. Answer Quickly
Journalists are usually in a rush and want to pin down sources as quickly as possible, so set a goal of responding to journalist queries within an hour of their being sent.
HARO emails out a list of journalist queries three times a day. It’s easier to respond quickly if you read the whole email every time — it only takes a few seconds — and monitor the HARO Twitter feed for last-minute queries.
Following up just once before the deadline can help you bubble back up to the top of the reporter’s inbox, but don’t pester — the last thing you want to do is make a negative impression that’ll keep them from using you as a source next time.
2. Identify Your Qualifications
Each journalist that sends a pitch through HARO includes specific criteria for the type of expert they’re seeking. If you don’t fit those criteria exactly, don’t reply — you’re wasting the journalist’s time and your own, and might leave a negative impression that hurts your chances further down the road.
If you do fit those qualifications, let the reporter know exactly why you’re a relevant source — but keep it brief. One or two sentences will do the job.
3. Answer the Question
Journalists don’t have time to interview every prospective source — so unless they specifically request an interview in their pitch, don’t respond by offering an interview. Instead, answer the question clearly, concisely and completely in your initial response.
4. Offer Real Insight
So you’ve done all of the above — quickly answered a journalist’s pitch clearly, concisely and completely, identifying how you fit their source criteria — but you weren’t quoted. Sometimes that boils down to a simple numbers game: With so many sources to choose from, even great replies may go unused.
But there’s another reason you might not have been quoted: If your reply is generic enough that the reporter could find the same information on Google or other search engines, it’s really not useful to them. Likewise, generic boilerplate or forwarded press releases will go unused. But if you can offer true insight that the reporter probably hasn’t seen before, that’s truly specific to the reporter’s query, you’re very likely to see your answer used.
5. Reply Through the HARO System
Some sources will hunt down a journalist’s direct email in an effort to stand out. This is understandable, but it can actually hurt your chances of being quoted. Many journalists use HARO’s email system to organize responses, or filter HARO emails to a specific folder — so if you stick to the HARO system, your answer is more likely to be seen.