Archive for June, 2010

How to Use HARO for Publicity & More! (Part I)

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Getting mentioned in the right publication can mean the difference between living hand to mouth and having more work than you can handle. But, public relations is expensive.HAROSourcing journalists who write about your industry, figuring out what they want to hear and then pitching them takes a lot of work. An experienced PR firm will cost you thousands of dollars a month which is a higher entry point than most small businesses can afford. But! There is a solution. is a publicity resource every small business can use.

Help a Reporter Out, commonly known as HARO, is referral service that puts journalists in touch with sources. HARO was started as a Facebook Group by PR guru Peter Shankman in November, 2007. It has since grown to its own website with almost 30,000 journalists and writers submitting over 200 queries a day to over 100,000 sources. HARO was recently purchased by software company Vocus. On his blog, Peter Shankman assures us that HARO will remain a free service and that “We’ll have a kick-ass infrastructure, which will allow us to grow HARO better than ever before. Different countries. More lists. Breaking news queries! You name it. It’s gonna be an AMAZING ride.”

HARO is free but it does require a time commitment. When you sign up as a news source, you get 3 emails a day with a couple of dozen queries in each one. Although the subject line of each HARO email starts with [HARO] which is designed to make them easy to filter into a separate folder, many of the requests are time sensitive so it’s best read them as soon as possible.

How can HARO afford to be free? Each HARO email starts with a paid advertisement about a product or service. Advertising in the masthead of HARO costs $1500. So at 3 emails a day, $4500 a day for a service that is largely automated is a pretty nice passive income stream.

After the masthead, there is a list of the latest queries by industry including:
Biotech and Healthcare
Business and Finance
High Tech
Lifestyle and Fitness
Public Policy and Government

The title of each query contains a one line description and the media outlet. Media outlets can include major print publications, well known websites and blogs, book authors and lesser known websites, blogs and social networks. If the source says “Anonymous” you’re probably dealing with a major news outlet like the Wall Street Journal or Good Morning America.

When you click on a item in the list, you are taken to the expanded description of the query which includes the journalist’s name (unless anonymous), the publication, the due date and a brief description (50 – 100) words of what they are looking for. The description also included an anonymized email address where you can send your reply.

When you come across a query you think you’d be a good source for (and I’m confident you eventually will), keep in mind they are probably getting dozens of not hundreds of responses. If they don’t get back to you don’t take it personally. Also, keep your replies short and to the point. DO NOT promote your products or services. Focus on what you know and how you can help them. This is definitely one of those situations where self-promotion will blow up in your face.

In my next post about HARO, I will show you some other ways I use HARO to find resources and build relationships online.

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