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Top 10 Tips for PR Success Using HARO

If you work in public relations or a related field, HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a free service that can yield a substantial return for a minimal time investment-if you play by the rules, that is. One slip-up could get not just you but your entire company booted from HARO.

Kid JournalistKeep these ten tips in mind in order to get the most out of HARO.

10. Read Every Email
You’ll get three emails full of queries every single day. Read every single one. It takes all of about 30 seconds to skim the query headlines in each email. If a headline strikes you as promising, you’ll spend a further 60-90 seconds reading the full query and determining whether or not to respond.

9. Memorize the Rules
Without clicking away from this page, recite the “Five Rules of HARO.” Don’t respond to a query until you can do so. If you don’t know the rules, you can’t be sure you’re following them. Breaking a rule could lead to a ban for yourself and your firm.

8. Look for Long Tail Value
If you can help a reporter out by responding to a query, do so, even if there’s no immediate opportunity to get exposure for your product or a paying client. This is a good idea for two reasons: First, the more often your name shows up in reputable publications, the better you’ll look. Second, an existing and friendly relationship with a reporter means you’ll have a better chance of being sourced for future stories by the same reporter.

7. Share the Love
Don’t post queries in any public space (see Tip #9), but do send them to personal friends with relevant expertise. It’s good karma and it’ll help HARO grow, which means more journalists on HARO and more queries for you.

6. Don’t Delay
If you see a query that you want to respond to, reply immediately. When I sent a HARO query seeking sources for a post on a blog about pet care, I got hundreds of responses within a few hours. The first, best sources are most likely to be used.

5. No Canned Jargon
If you don’t have time to compose a brief and personal email to a reporter, you probably don’t have time to be interviewed for a story. Stale press releases won’t get you noticed. A brief, polite, on-topic and tantalizing email will.

4. Use As Directed
Many HARO queries include specific instructions for responses. Replies that don’t follow directions will be discarded and may not even reach the intended recipient at all. Check to make sure you’ve followed the reporter’s instructions before sending a pitch.

3. Never, Ever, Ever Pitch Off-Topic
Don’t pitch off-topic. Don’t pitch kinda-sorta-on-topic, either. If you aren’t sure whether or not your pitch is relevant, forward the query to a knowledgeable friend for a second opinion.

2. Be Unique and Personal
A personal touch and unique hook are especially important when you need to stand out among hundreds of potential sources. Because of one unique personal detail included in a response to a HARO query, I was featured prominently in a magazine and had a well-known photographer sent to do a photo shoot with me.

1. Network, Network, Network!
When a HARO reporter quotes you, don’t be afraid to politely ask, “Can I connect with you on Twitter, LinkedIn or another social networking site?” If the reporter agrees, keep in touch and use that connection responsibly-never send unsolicited pitches! Do make an open-ended offer to help with future stories.

This article, written by Jelena Woehr, originally appeared in PR Fuel (http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel), a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.

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9 Responses

  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by JennyDeVaughn: Top 10 Tips for PR Success Using HARO http://bit.ly/VM8BY Your thoughts? @skydiver…

  2. Rita says:

    Thanks, Jelena. I am newbie to HARO. Your TEN TIPS help out a bunch.

  3. mike l says:

    I think this is too cautious. You assume that everyone has the time to massage each and every relationship. Only the PR people at large firms do who can hire someone to work on this full time, every day, all day, can, so reporters should cut the smaller guys some slack. We run our companies. We work massively long hours. We need exposure like bread needs butter. But we don’t have time to do all the things we SHOULD be doing in PR. We just don’t. To do that would be a full time job alone, and we’re back to square one.

    So reporters & writers, don’t be so quick and rude to reject people because they didn’t put the information in exactly the format you want.

    Oh, and you might try thanking the people who do reply. God knows reporters are underpaid and overworked too, just like the small business owner (so there should be mutual respect or at least empathy) but remember that your reputations are also being interwoven into the “relationship” building and newspapers and print magazines are dying, so maybe more attention to invidual things could help build bridges all around.

  4. brian says:

    Great tips, especially connecting with reporters via social media.

  5. [...] Usefull Tips For Press Release Success Using The Power Of Haro [...]

  6. Lisa Wilson says:

    I think this is definatly interesting in many ways, wow I had no idea! I am very excited about my new find in Haro.

  7. [...] 3)   Hop on HARO. If you’re not familiar with HARO (helpareporter.com), it’s a free email newsletter featuring journalists’ calls for sources, which goes out three times a day to an audience of thousands. Sign up for the newsletter and pay close attention to the queries, keeping an eye out for requests that fit your company and will provide you with positive exposure. When you reply, include a paragraph or two of specific information in response to the journalists’ needs; writers often receive dozens of replies, so you won’t stand out unless you can show that you’re the right fit in your initial correspondence. See more tips for making the most of HARO. [...]

  8. I just found out about HARO and these tips are helpful. Looking forward to learning more about this resource! :)

  9. Wayne Smith says:

    I have just joined HARO and finding this forum very interesting about the do’s and dont’s of HARO, according to each individual.
    Have you heard of DOE (Directory Of Ezines)they have a comprehensive list of every reputable ezine Newsletter publisher. Think about it. Shall say no more. Are you getting the gist of what i am saying?

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