Thinking Outside the Box. HARO For Marketing.

HARO

We have all read the news articles that quote experts in various fields. Pretty much every news source does this. But, how the heck do they find experts in such strange fields as child seat safety or blow dryer maintenance or any of the many other odd areas of expertise? Perhaps, you have even seen one of your competitors quoted in an article and wondered how he got that opportunity. Well, wonder no more. Today, I will tell you about HARO and how you can best utilize it to gain an edge in your marketing plans.

What HARO Is

If you do not have contacts within a specific industry or if you just do not know what you are looking for, it can be hard to find a knowledgeable source for a blog entry. Or, if you want to contribute your knowledge on a particular subject, it is often hard to get your name out there as an expert. This is where HARO comes into play.

HARO (helpareporter.com) stands for “help a reporter out.” It was designed as an online service for journalists to gather feedback from the public or to access experts in various subject areas. Journalists can gather valuable quotes and advice for stories they are working on by connecting with people who have experience or expertise in particular issues.

HARO was originally founded by Peter Shankman as a Facebook group in 2008. Later, he turned it into a mailing list with over 100,000 subscribers. HARO was sold to Vocus, Inc. in 2010. Today, it is one of the fastest growing publicity services in the world. HARO bring together more than 100,000 news sources, thousands of companies, and almost 30,000 bloggers and reporters every day to promote their brands, sell their services and products, and tell their stories.

Since HARO first hit the scene, it has facilitated about seven and a half million media pitches; promoted and marketed nearly 1,500 brands to businesses, consumers, and the media; and published over 75,000 journalist queries. It is completely free for reporters and sources. It can serve as a crucial social networking resource for advertisers as well.

How People Use HARO

HARO can be used to

  • Make yourself available as a knowledgeable source
  • Find sources to quote in your blog
  • For targeted advertising

You must walk before you can run, so I will cover all of these more basic uses before teaching you some more advance tricks to help you market yourself and your brand.

Reporters often need to find sources in a hurry to meet deadlines. So, many of them utilize HARO. Some of their big name clients include ABC, Fox, the Associated Press, Dow Jones, and Gannett. When you are chosen as a source for a particular story, often times, you can get the reporter to include a mention of your blog or company in the story. For this reason, HARO is popular among sources and reporters alike.

It is your job to convince the reporter that you are the best source for a news story by responding to requests from any news source with a concise and impressive bio. You can subscribe to get queries sent directly to your inbox three times a day for free. There are also pay options available that provide you with more features. Their most popular package, Advanced, is $49 per month. It alerts you earlier of opportunities to be a source as well as gives you the ability to create three profiles on their site. Honestly, though, the free version of the site is sufficient in my experience.

Another good free use of HARO is to find sources to quote in your blog entries by signing up as a “Reporter.” To sign up, all you need to do is provide HARO with your email address, name, create a password, and let them know the name of your blog.

Once you are up and running, you submit request for sources called “Queries.” This is an awesome tool. Rather than sifting through the profiles on their website or simply posting the query and hoping for the right person to come to you, your query is sent to all of the Sources who fit the needs of your query, and then they can contact you with a pitch. In my experience, the Sources do a good job of adhering to the HARO community standards of not responding if they are not experts.

HARO has a Sponsors program that businesses can use to target specific demographics. Basically, this is HARO’s way of selling its mailing list and making money out of the transactions made by the free users. HARO’s pitch states that the open rates of their email marketing campaigns are unmatched, but I was not able to find any numbers.

They offer two advertising options. There is the Master HARO package that gets your message and name in front of every member of the community. It runs at about $1,500 for each campaign and has an estimated reach of over 134,000. There is also the Gift Bag HARO package that reaches about 27,000 “influential” people at exclusive events. This runs for $1,250 for a campaign. I have little experience with advertising with HARO, so this entry will not go into much detail on this other than to say it is available.

How to Use HARO in Marketing

Now that you have some idea of how HARO is used by the unwashed masses, I am going to help you figure out how to use it for your marketing efforts. First of all, serving as a source can do wonders for your SEO. By having a major news source link to your website or blog, it will boost the credibility of your site, and the search engines will pay attention.

To serve as a source, you must write a very good pitch in response to queries from reporters. To do this, you must directly answer any questions in the original query. Anything that is off the mark will likely end up in the journalist’s trash folder as they are racing to meet a deadline. Also, since they are working to meet a deadline, you should reply to the queries as quickly as possible. Keep the response to about two concise paragraphs. Include some information about yourself, why you would be a good source, and some links to back up your claims.

Before replying to any query, take a few minutes to do a quick search on the writer of the article. You want to make sure the author’s website and organization aligns with your goals. You also want to make sure it is legitimate. You do not want your name associated with a site of ill repute.

If you do not know this already, let me make it clear to you: your business needs a blog. It does not matter what product you produce or service you provide. Any website or company that does not have a blog will be all but ignored by the search engines. Your blog also needs to be original to improve SEO. HARO can help you create SEO friendly blog entries.

By becoming a reporter for free with HARO, you can attract stories, quotes, and ideas from PR pros, businesses, and even CEOs. These can be used to generate compelling and original posts. The key is creating a good query that people will want to respond to.

Good queries should tell potential sources what you want from them and why. This should be apparent in the headline. You should also introduce yourself. Your query should include a number of sub-topic questions to really let sources know what you are after. Make sure to tell people how you will follow up. I recommend trying to set up a Skype, FaceTime, or Google Hangout video interview, but regular phone and email interviews also suffice.

We well-crafted query will get up to 50 responses. These responses will vary quite a bit. If their pitch is not well crafted, do not even bother with it. You are looking for researchers, CEOs, top experts, and authors. Public relations experts are also great because they will try their best to give you exactly what you need. For sources you want to follow up with, be prompt in your responses and be prepared. You do not want to waste their time. Also, be sure to send them a thank you note along with a link to the published story.

A great side effect of including quotes from subject matter experts is the potential linking by the source. This will expose your site to a whole new audience as a source’s following reads the article in which you quoted him. The new audience may even share your article. There is also the potential for follow up stories to quote your original article.

How to Use HARO for Creating Compelling (and Possibly Viral) Articles

If you look at any Facebook newsfeed to see what articles people are sharing, about three times out of ten the articles begin with “3 Ways to…” or “Top 5 Things that…” Basically, people love lists. Popular websites like Buzzfeed and Cracked exist because of them. They provide a succinct way to provide a fair amount of information that is easy for people to consume.

HARO can help you create these lists with a strong degree of credibility. For example, you can send out a query to everyone signed up as a Business source to find the best new tools for succeeding in lean marketing. You can pick through the responses to find the ten best. You then have a “10 Game Changing Tools for Lean Marketing” list that includes quotes from experts in the area, which will be read by everyone interested in lean marketing. You get all of this with minimal effort on your part.

As you can see, utilizing HARO can be a game changing tool in your lean marketing efforts. Using it for the above purposes is absolutely free and can have priceless benefits to your company. Best of all, there are no adverse effects to just trying it out. Take it for a test drive today!

 

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Hi! I'm Jason Brown and I’m a 36 year old digital marketing intrapreneur living in beautiful Louisville, Kentucky. I've been involved with the Internet since 1996 and have personally made millions online with my creative marketing tactics and persistence. I blog about marketing, money, and motivation. Thanks for stopping by!

2 comments

  1. Vinny Polston   •  

    Great stuff! I actually about used this same theme for my site. Good choice eliquid!

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