If you’re a small business owner and you haven’t heard of Help A Reporter Out (also known as HARO for short), well, you’re in for an awesome surprise. HARO is a free service you can join that will link you with reporters from all over the nation.
Over 30,000 members of the press use HARO to find experts and business owners to use as sources for their stories. It’s a fantastic way to get free exposure — that is, if you get picked.
As you can probably guess, thousands and thousands of people are clamoring to get chosen as a HARO source. Many reporters are from smaller blogs, but there are also ones from huge media outlets like the Huffington Post (read how to get published on the Huffington Post.) Thus, it is absolutely worth it to sign up for this free service if you want more exposure for your brand.
Here’s how to sign up for the service and use it successfully to get your name and business published on high traffic sites and quoted in the press.
Step 1: Sign up for free
Signing up for HARO is very simple. First you go to the HARO website. On the front page, you’ll see something that says “Sign up today.” Click that and you’ll get to the screen shown below.
For those just starting out, we recommend the free version. I’ve been using it for over a year now, and I have been successful using HARO without paying a monthly subscription fee. Once you’re all set up, you’ll get alerts to your inbox three times a day in the morning, afternoon, and evening.
Step 2: Find a good fit
When you set up your HARO account, you can choose to get all alerts or choose ones that are specific to you. When you select ones in your specific field of interest, it means that if a reporter in your field has a story and needs a quote from someone, their query will land in your inbox. For example, I get only the business and finance alerts.
I used to get the travel alerts because I thought I could offer tips on budget travel, but 99.9% of the time, they are looking for hotel owners or other profiles that just aren’t me.
When the HARO email arrives in your inbox, open it immediately and scroll through it quickly to see if you are a good fit for any of the queries.
For example, when I saw the description of the article below, I knew I had the experience to offer a quote for her story. As you can see, it was #13 on a long list of reporters who were looking for quotes. Not every HARO will have a story that fits with your interests or business, but I find I am a decent fit for articles at least twice a week.
Step 3: Send a reply lightning fast
This is the #1 most important tip to remember about HARO. Without it, you will likely never be quoted through a HARO journalist. It’s sort of like finding the best couch ever on Craigslist.
If you’re not the first person to respond, you likely won’t get published. Some people are so devoted to HARO that they use it as their alarm. The emails come in at about 5AM, 12PM, and 5PM give or take thirty minutes, so many people are standing there at the ready.
The e-mail above came to me at 5:37 PM. By the time, I was able to scroll through it quickly, find a query that I fit well, and craft a response, it was 5:56 PM. Usually I like to be a bit faster, but at that time I sent the e-mail below (click to enlarge.)
As you can see, you need to immediately state your name and what you do. Journalists get tons and tons of responses so you want to catch their eye. Notice I put “Independent Twin Mom” in the subject line of my e-mail.
If I had just put “Solopreneur,” the reporter might have skipped over my e-mail because the 10 e-mails before me were likely also from solopreneurs. Every time I send in a HARO response, I try to write something unique in the subject line to catch their attention. I recommend that others do the same.
Step 4: Keep submitting while you wait
Most of the time, I do not get a response when I send out emails like the one above. I just keep churning them out day after day until one hits. Do not wait to see if someone will write you back. Instead, keep sending out quotes consistently. Eventually, someone will accept it as long as your emails are professional and you send them quickly.
Luckily, for the pitch I wrote above, I got the response below.
Step 5: Enjoy seeing yourself in the press
Once you get picked up by the media, be sure to save a screenshot of it to keep for your portfolio. You can see my quote on the MyCorporation blog below.
All it took was a few minutes of my time to submit that quote, and by consistently responding to Help A Reporter Out every day, I hope to have several media mentions over the next few months. It’s quite an easy system if you think about it.
Just keep trying, trying, and trying some more. Stay positive and professional. Make sure you’re a good match for the query. If you do all of those things, I promise you’ll see your name somewhere noteworthy very soon.
Do you use HARO as a way to get free publicity or get published on high traffic sites?