The world of media relations, especially when including social media, can be challenging. There are countless targets to track along with numerous opportunities to pursue and stories to tell. That’s what makes Help a Reporter Out (HARO) so compelling. The service matches reporters who need sources for stories with experts in particular fields. It can be an amazing boost to any media relations program.
HARO spans all types of media from lifestyle to business, offering many opportunities for companies to pitch the media on stories they are actually working on, all at no cost. A user simply subscribes to HARO’s updates, then can keep an eye out for stories in which they may be a useful source.
While the service can be highly effective, it requires a certain level of eagerness and discipline to make the most of it, starting with the ability to respond quickly. HARO sends out updates by email three times per day, so it’s important to monitor the emails and respond as soon as possible. A good rule of thumb is to respond within the first 30 minutes to an hour.
The reality is that reporters who are seeking sources via HARO are often flooded with responses, so you want to take the time to set yourself apart from the pack.
Here’s a few basic tips for creating great pitches for HARO:
- Ensure responses are complete with your contact info, any relevant background, and what exactly they are requesting.
- Be concise in your responses. If they ask for 300 words, give them 299 and not a word more.
- Format your information so it is easily scanned and digested by the reporter. Use bold and bullets to break up copy.
- Offer background so that they know why you (or your spokespeople) are an expert on the topic and a good person for them to quote. You can include a few lines highlighting professional experience and relevant press engagements.
- Offer any additional information as links. Do not send attachments.
Going beyond the basics, social media can offer a great way to get a leg up on your competition for HARO. Using social media to support HARO offers a way for you to ensure that your time invested is well-spent and gives you more opportunities to form strong connections with key media contacts.
1. Follow @helpareporter on Twitter
Throughout the day, HARO will share #URGHARO requests where a reporter needs a source right away. By monitoring their account and hashtag, you can position yourself into stories, often with high profile media outlets.
2. Connect with Reporters on LinkedIn
Where appropriate, connect with the reporter looking for a source via LinkedIn once you send your HARO pitch. Just preface it with a quick note saying that you’ve providing them with a source or information via HARO and you’d love to connect. Saying you are available to provide comment (or source who will) on two or three topics will help keep you top of mind for future stories.
3. Research the Outlet and Contact
Most HARO opportunities include the name of the blog or publication, as well as the name of the contact. Before you respond, take a couple minutes to Google the website and learn more about the reporter’s beat. Facebook can be a very handy supplementary tools for researching the reporter as you can see if you have any mutual friends, what they may be interested in, and you can also check out the publication’s page for more ideas on how to fine tune your pitch to their audience. For the reporter, look at their past stories, and for the outlet, look at the tone and manner of their content to help nail your pitch every time.
4. Promote via Social Media
If you are quoted in a published piece you secured via HARO, be a great source by promoting the piece on your own social media channels. Most reporters rely on Twitter, so find their Twitter handle and be sure to thank them for including you in the piece. The more you promote and close the loop, the more memorable you become for future articles.
As you work on HARO, recognize that not every pitch will be accepted, but using social media can help make a big difference in the number of opportunities that you do secure. A little bit of legwork before you hit send can go a long way.