With more than 700,000 professionals subscribed to the Help a Reporter Out (HARO) service at any given time, it’s no wonder that reporters and journalists frequently use Haro for story ideas. In fact, most PR pros recognize the value of this trusted source in their everyday work. But its not just for PR Pros, Haro is a really great source for small business owners.
Journalists respond really well to small business owners reaching out and prefer to speak directly to the source rather than a PR or Marketing person. So, as a small business owner you actually have a massive advantage if you can learn how to pitch yourself.
What is HARO?
HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out.” It’s a free service that connects journalists who are looking for sources or experts to interview with members of the public who have expertise or experience that would be relevant and helpful to the journalist’s story.
HARO members can sign up to receive emails from the service at different intervals throughout the day and week, allowing them to tailor their participation to the needs of their work schedule. HARO members can then respond to the emails they receive whenever they have expertise that could be helpful to journalists.
HARO is a resource that journalists frequently use as a means to find experts and sources for interviews, which also means that it’s a great way for you to get your name or a service or product in front of a journalist.
Getting a link through HARO is often the holy grail of SEO because these links are super powerful. If you get a linn from Time, BBC, New York Times, The Telegraph, that's extremley good for your search engine traffic and of course provides additional credibility as you can add a SEEN IN section to your homepage.
Don't think its possible? It totally is!! Here are a few tips to help you land those high value links and coverage.
Know your audience before pitching
One of the most critical aspects of pitching to a journalist is knowing a little bit about the publications or media outlets you are pitching too.
You have to be able to take a step back from the situation and try to understand the journalist’s frame of mind. Why are they writing this article? What angle are they going for and how can you pitch your expertise in a way they will want to publish it.
The best way to find out information about the publication is to do some research. You can start with what’s on the publication’s website. From there, you can start researching the writers who have written for this publication in the past. You can start to get a sense of what kind of articles they write and what their general themes are. If you can, try to find out what type of pitches they prefer.
Sometimes, the Journalists don't publish which publication they are writing for since they are freelance. In this case you will just need to pitch your expertise inline with the subject they are talking about in the best way possible.
Don’t go generic – be strategic
Once you’ve done all the necessary research, put yourself in the shoes of the journalist. Ask yourself why they are writing the article. What are they trying to accomplish with the article? What are they trying to solve?
Where are they trying to direct their readers’ attention? What do they want to see as a result of their article? As I've already mentioned earlier, you want to make sure that your pitch is not generic. You want to make the pitch specific to the journalist and the publication that you are targeting. For example, say you are pitching a travel magazine about a trip you took to Italy.
Your pitch might sound something like, “I took a trip to Italy last year and I can’t stop thinking about it. I want to write about my experience for your readers.” This generic pitch may or may not be accepted. However, if you change your pitch to something like this, “I took a trip to Italy last year and can’t stop thinking about it because I discovered an amazing new gelato flavor that I have yet to find in the United States. I want to write about my experience for your readers who love Italian food and culture as much as I do.” This is something specific they can use.
Have a compelling hook
We all know what a hook is in the world of marketing – it’s that one thing that gets readers to pause, take notice, and ultimately buy what you’re selling. In the world of journalism, the hook is the same thing – it’s the one thing that gets a journalist to write about you.
The best way to do this is to keep it simple. You don’t need to write a novel about your life and what you’ve done. You just need to get your name and who you are out there.
Try to keep your pitch under 100 words. Again, you want to target the journalist and you want to make your pitch as specific as possible. Ask yourself, “What makes this story unique?” and “What is so interesting about this story or person that would make others want to read about them?”
Provide strong, quality information
It all comes down to the quality of information you provide the journalist. Be sure that you are pitching to journalists who actually need your services or products.
The best way to do this is to look at the article the journalist has written and ask yourself, “If I were writing this article, would I need this information?” If you can say yes, then it’s likely a journalist will also need your information.
Again, you also have to make sure that you are providing quality information. If you’re pitching a quote or statement, make sure that it is error free. There should be no errors or issues with the text. It should be easy to read and follow. Make sure that it is specific to the topic and is not general. You want to make it as simple as possible for the journalist to copy and paste what you've sent them.
There are many ways to use HARO for press and media coverage, I hope some of these tips have helped.
Whilst HARO pitching is very competitive, as you can imagine there are lots of other business owners wanting the journalists attention, it is worth the time. Landing a mention from one of these top publications can do absolute wonders for your search engine traffic even if you are targeting local clients, in fact especially so since your keywords are likely to be much less competitive that a larger business who is going for head terms.
A keyword like Reiki in Manchester is much easier to rank for than Reiki Session or Reiki Healing for example. So sign up to HARO and have a go!! The only way to start getting some results is to start taking action and giving it a go.
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Written by Cheryl A Clarke Chief Happiness Officer & Content Marketing Freelancer @ Ginger Marketing (unless stated otherwise)