How to use HARO

by Smartie on March 29, 2010

Do you guys know about HARO (Help a Reporter Out)?

Basically, it’s a social media service where journalists looking for sources can go to find them. HARO is an email blasted out three times a day that lists the queries. If you sign up for their emails, you check out what the media is looking for, and if you match what a journalist is looking for, you respond with your pitch.

HARO was founded in 2008 by PR pro Peter Shankman (founder and CEO of PR firm The Geek Factory), and averages 1,500 queries per week. I have seen queries from small blogs to massive print publications. I’ve even caught a few Oprah show queries on there. And HARO is absolutely free.

While using HARO sounds fairly self explanatory, it is much, much more than the journo/source equivalent of Match.com.

I have found that 98 percent of the queries in the service do not match my client’s needs. But I faithfully read my HARO when it lands in my inbox. And I strongly recommend that you sign up for the full HARO listings, not the industry specific list.

Here’s why.

HARO is a fantastic way to take the pulse of the media, and find out what they are covering before it lands in print, on the web or on television. It’s a great way to get into their heads to see not only what they are covering but how they are covering it. This knowledge–a basic understanding of what gets covered (and potentially why)–serves you well in your own publicity endeavors. It will help you think a little more journalistically with your own pitches.

Follow HARO for a few weeks, and you definitely begin to understand why the “write about me because I am awesome” pitch often strikes out. Then you begin to learn how to craft a pitch that will help your awesomeness get a little coverage.

Further, you may match up with a query in a genre not your own. For example, let’s say a parenting publication was looking for sources to talk about childcare for those who work “nontraditional” jobs or hours (not a real query!). (And while this is not a real query, if could actually be a great pitch.) What are a parent’s childcare options when they don’t work a typical 9 – 5? So, if you are a parent that works in theater, for example, and you have figured out a creative solution for childcare while you are working nights and weekends, pitch away! And you would never have seen that query if you were on the entertainment only related queries.

HARO is a very cool resource and I urge you all to sign up. Just pitch very, very carefully. Off topic pitches will get you banned from the source list.

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