What is HARO?
Help A Reporter Out or HARO, is a platform that connects journalists to expert sources. This allows reporters to collect quotes and additional insights for their stories.
When a journalist cites a source in one of their stories, they will credit that source with a link.
Answering questions on HARO can therefore act as a very effective PR strategy for small businesses, allowing them to showcase their brand and expertise to a global audience by getting featured in some of the biggest publications in the world.
Some of the publications that regularly use HARO to find sources (source: https://www.helpareporter.com)
HARO is completely free to use as a source.
The reason why HARO is so effective for small businesses is that journalists do not care about how well known their source is.
Rather they are looking for the best answer to the question that they are asking.
You can therefore get press coverage for your business by providing an insightful answer to a journalist’s question.
How does HARO work
To start using HARO you need to sign up as a source on their website.
It costs nothing to sign up and takes around 2 minutes of your time. You just need to add an email and your company’s details, and then verify your email address.
You receive 3 emails from HARO each day.
These emails will each contain around 80-120 requests from journalists looking for specific experts to give quotes and insights on specific topics.
Here is a sample of one of these emails:
A screenshot of one of HAROs daily emails in my inbox
Each of the links in the email contains a question or series of questions as well as a requirement for the type of sources needed. All you need to do is search for questions that you could answer and answer them.
How to answer HARO questions in a way that earns coverage
You can expect a conversion rate with HARO of about 15-20% when following these best practices.
You can greatly increase your chances of being successful in HARO by responding to emails in a specific way. The easiest way to show how to do this is to demonstrate it with an example of a recent successful HARO for the company that I work for, RightlyWritten.
Here is the query that the journalist initially made (this comes up when you click the relevant link):
This was my response:
Here are some notes on why this response worked:
- I supplied all the details that the journalist asked for, both in terms of insights and credentials. If a journalist asks multiple questions, it can help to write these out in bold and/or italics and answer them one by one.
- I wrote in short, soundbite-able paragraphs. Often journalists are looking for a quick one-sentence quote to place into an article. Try and write each sentence so that it can be used as a standalone quote.
- I answered the questions thoroughly – successful HARO answers can get you placements on websites and magazines that would otherwise cost thousands of dollars. It is well worth spending half an hour to answer a request.
- I did not mention my product or service in my answers. Although I mentioned my company in my introduction, I did not plug my products or services in my answer.
The final important step is to answer questions as soon as they come out. Journalists often work to tight deadlines to the sooner you answer the better.
HARO Case Study- 7 placements in 12 hours of work
We set a challenge to small UK based IT consultancy Bailey & Associates to see how many placements they could get just by monitoring one HARO email a day (the first one of the day) for 2 months.
Bailey and Associates are a small startup, being less than 2 years old and having only seven full-time staff members.
In 2 months they responded to 19 HAROs. This amounted to approximately 12 hours of work.
The company managed to win 7 placements in this time, including placements with two of the world’s biggest biz tech magazines, Clutch, and CIO Magazine.
This shows how small businesses with little to no marketing budget can win big media coverage using this platform.
Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager for copywriting and digital content agency RightlyWritten.