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The definition of Small Business insanity is not using Help A Reporter Out (HARO)!

O.K. maybe its doing the same thing over and over again expecting different results, but seriously businesses that get press attention can greatly benefit from it. Bill Gates has said if he was down to his last dollar, he’d spend it on Public Relations.

It doesn’t matter your business size or industry, getting press for your business builds credibility, trust, helps you dominate local search compared to your competitors not taking the time to do this and increases business.

Obtaining positive PR for your small business should be one of your top marketing strategies and you can do it for free daily using Help A Reporter Out (haro).

Down below you’ll see an infographic with a step by step overview of how to get started and some power strategies to help you succeed.  As always, I’ve also included dozens of entrepreneurs tips below on how they’ve succeeded using HARO.

How to Use Help A Reporter Out (HARO)

Before we dive in though to examples for your business, I’d like to share my own thoughts since I use HARO as a Reporter weekly and as a Source daily.

To succeed at using HARO you need to be consistent daily.  I’ve found that typically out of every 50 questions I answer, 3-5 get picked, so be patient. Also make sure to set up Google Alerts for your company name and personal name (its free). Many reporters don’t share that you’ve been sourced and thus you won’t be able to take advantage of the publicity if you don’t know. Make sure to also set up alerts for competitors and when you see press for them, comment  and try to build a relationship with that reporter.

Some closing thoughts are answer what the reporter is looking for. I’m not Forbes Magazine (though I’ve been quoted in them because of HARO)  and yet I still get over 50+ responses minimum a week. (I can only imagine what Forbes gets) It drives me crazy when I share exactly what I’m looking for and someone doesn’t answer the question and says contact me if you’d like help. Unfortunately I end up having to delete them.  Answer what the reporter wants quickly, interestingly, uniquely and honestly! Have a strong headline, unique angle and make sure you provide your contact information.

Lastly, remember with HARO the tortoise doesn’t win the race.  I spoke recently with Forbes contributors Joshua Steimle and Cheryl Snapp Conner who shared how many pitches they receive. The numbers are huge and if you aren’t fast (sometimes less than an hour), you’ll never get your response looked at.  

Tweet This: “Advertising is saying you’re good. PR is getting someone else to say you’re good.” Jean-Louis Gassee

Darrell Gurney | Chief Empowerment Officer | CareerGuy

Here’s how I use HARO efficiently.

I have my assistant go through the listings each day and then, for those which might apply to me, she puts together an email and forwards it to me.

The email she forwards shares the inquiry from the reporter which is where I answer the reporters question like I’m doing here.

Below the area I type in my response my assistant has a template of additional information on my background, my book and and links to interviews I’ve been part of.

Getting Press Attention

By using a template I’m able to quickly respond to more inquiries and thus I get more hits…with several major ones over the years that you can see on the Media & Press tab at the upper left of my website.

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Austin Netzley | Founder | YoProWealth

A great way that people can use HARO is to find and build your network.

HARO isn’t of course built for this, but by being active and engaged in your specific target market, HARO can be a great connector that helps you find others in your niche, and helps start that conversation.

It has actually worked wonders for me so far by doing this.

Leanne E. King | President | SeeKing HR

We began using HARO shortly after redesigning our website in November 2013.

We intentionally stopped creating content for us and made a conscious effort to push our ideas out to others with a redirection back to our site. We have been published six times in the past 60 days and have three other stories in development. We don’t have a big department of writers and editors – just a couple of folks with passion for what they do.

A few of our tips for getting published include:

  1. Write what you know. If the idea/pitch doesn’t fit exactly in a space where we are considered an expert we move on. Don’t waste time writing on what might be, write about the for sure.
  2. Use short concise language. Be brief, be bright, be gone. We provide just enough verbiage to get the journalist interested and then leave them wanting just a little more. We also use bullets, highlights and italics for emphasis. In the world of sensory overload, everyone wants the quick fix, so we try to use as few words as possible.
  3. Be a real life storyteller. Use a story or a real example to convey your point. The reader wants to feel your emotion and understand you – they want to be inspired – I say give ’em what they want. Think of how your trial, tribulation, experience, episode, adventure, etc . . . may help another. It’s about being genuine.

Aside from the tricks and tips . . . we stay connected with the folks that have published us. We follow-up and reciprocate the likes, connects and tweets.

Deb Lee | Small Business Tech Advisor | SOHOTech Training

Here are my tips for small business owners on how to get their “pitch” published using Help A Reporter Out:

  1. Answer as promptly as possible.
  2. Take advantage replying to Urgent HARO’s. The reporter is usually still looking for content when the Urgent request is made and are likely to use (quality) content you submit.
  3. Reply in the way that is requested. If the reporter asks you to use a specific subject line (so they’ll see the e-mail) or to submit the info in a particular way (so it can be read in a way that works for them), do it. If they can’t find the info they need because you didn’t put it in the requested format, you’re likely to not get chosen as a source.

Suzie Kane | Owner | BizMobi

To be selected as a source when using HARO:

  • Note any requirements and deadline.
  • Please note, attachments will NOT be forwarded so all information needs to be included in the body of the email.
  • Be sure to include contact info and links to your site. 

Journalists like to have their specific questions addressed. Bullet points, concise information in an easily digestible format are best. Put something interesting in the subject line of the email in order to help encourage them to open it. They get many responses and quick submissions that are well formed with an interesting subject line fare best in my experience.

I’ve gotten quite a few placements for myself as well as clients. Benefits have been: increased visibility, valuable backlinks to my site from authority sites, traffic flow to my sites, and lead ins to other opportunities. For example, the Lifetime TV one came from someone seeing one of my interviews.

Drew Meyer | SEER Associate | SEER Interactive

One of my favorite tactics that no one really talks about when getting Press for your Business is reaching out to reporters and stories after the deadline has passed, we can call it “Post-Deadline Outreach”.

Once a month, I’ll go through and search my HARO emails for specific keywords as they relate to my business. I then have an ongoing Google Doc which I keep all the reporters names, queries, emails, etc. You can reach out to the reporters with a message apologizing for missing the deadline, but looking to help with any future queries and to be a resource on a subject. If they don’t have an actual email listed, then use Twitter!

I almost get more responses that way, then before the deadline, as it seems much more sincere. We really do want to help in the end! I can send some examples if you’d like.

Hazel Thornton | CEO | Organized For Life

My #1 tip for getting included in a HARO article is this:

Don’t mess around deciding whether or not to reply. Some of the deadlines for responding to HARO are very tight. Even with a longer deadline, something you write or say to the reporter early in the game could influence the entire article.

A couple more tips:

  • Follow the directions given by the requesting reporter. Don’t add stuff they didn’t ask for, and don’t omit anything they did ask for.
  • Don’t waste your time (or the reporter’s) creating new tips for each request. If it fits squarely in your area of expertise, you probably already have a tip or two to offer quickly. If it’s slightly outside your area of expertise, or target market, just wait for the next request.

I usually don’t get new business directly from a HARO article…sometimes a few new newsletter subscribers…but I participate because it gives me something to post in social media and builds my professional credibility.

Carly Fauth | Director of Marketing | Money Crashers

There are several tips that can be used to get a pitch published using HARO.

First, answer the question(s). Although this may seem self-evident, lots of journalists and reporters get frustrated when respondents don’t take the time to read the question(s) and provide the needed information. Being fast and timely helps as well – remember, plenty of reporters turn to HARO because they don’t have time to use traditional resources. Make sure your pitch or quote is grammatically correct and free of spelling errors, and only pitch yourself where your expertise is relevant. If you work in landscaping you’re unlikely to be quoted for an IT article.

Getting press by using HARO is a solid option for any small business owner out there looking to further his or her marketing strategy. We’ve used it quite a bit over here at Money Crashers to generate more buzz about our business. It has definitely resulted in an increase in readership and website subscribers.

Hank Coleman | Financial Planner & Personal Finance Writer | Money Q&A

Here are two tips that I would share with your readers about how I’ve been successful in using HARO:

  1. Provide quotable responses: The best way to get a quote picked up by a reporter is to answer their HARO query and give them exactly what they asked for in the query. You should provide quotable answers directly in your response and make it as easy as possible for them to simply cut and paste your answer for a quote for their article.
  2. Have a template: I use “Canned Responses” in Gmail that allows you to easily input pre-formatted emails into the body of your HARO responses. You can set up different responses for different situations. With a simple canned response, you only have to change the middle portion of your email response. Now you can respond to more HARO queries and get more of your responses into media.

Shmuel Hoffman | Founder | EntreFilmmaker

3 Tips for using HARO:

  1. Check HARO dailyThose deadlines are so close to when the digest comes out; you don’t want to miss a real opportunity!
  2. Make it easy to publish you. Write out a complete thought that’s already formatted, so the editor just has to copy and paste. My experience is that the easier it is for people, the better chance you have of being published. 
  3. Include a link and ask for the link. Always include a link to your website; most editors and bloggers understand that what you want in return is a backlink. Make it easy for them to find you, and always ask that they send you a link to what they end up posting so that you can share it on your own social network.

Arash Afshar | Creative Consultant | Mr Arash 

I love HARO and focus on using it as a creativity exercise rather than staying fixated on personal gain.  It doesn’t have to be lined up perfectly with your product. I just make it a habit to answer anything and everything I can. Sometimes I simply point writers in a certain direction. Even when I don’t hear back, I have gained by putting my brain to work. When I write more detailed responses, my goal is to stay in good writing practice rather than trying to get quoted.

HARO is a form of social media. In all human interactions, a person who is focused on “me me me” will be very unattractive. So I try to give and it pays off either by getting my creative juices flowing or by getting placement.

Regardless, wherever you get quoted is good for your personal brand. Even if it’s not in the professional field you happen to be currently pursuing, it’s good to get your name out there as much as possible. It is no coincidence that when you Google my name, I pop up right away and I haven’t spent a dime on Search Engine Optimization.

Rachel Sentes | Founder | Gal-Friday Publicity 

I use HARO often and get great results for my clients. I’m a freelance publicist with my own small business and it’s one of the best places to use to get results for my clients.

Here’s my 5 Tips how to use HARO for Business Owners:

  1. Only reply to requests that you know you have something to contribute. Get the best fit that you can!
  2. Research the media outlet and query person as much as possible so that you can warm up your pitch ( for example I watched your video and read the comments and know that you have now found the passion for your work and that you have the great support from your three children and your wife) So at the beginning of the pitch I want to relate to what you are looking for.
  3. If you get a reply from HARO reply right away with as much information as possible to facilitate speed. Most of these reporters are on deadline. The more you can supply them, the less back and forth you do.
  4. If you have a successful pitch ask them if you can send them any pitches in the future and get their permission. If they say no, then respect that. ( if you don’t you get booted from HARO anyway)
  5. Be honest!! Remember that your client and your reputation rest on how professional you are in your responses. If you can’t give them what they need then tell them right away so they can find another source.

My whole business is based on getting press for clients and there is such a good variety of requests that I always find items to answer. Hopefully this one has a few tips – they might be boring but they have worked for me! And because I’ve followed them some of those reporters are now coming to me as a source- so it’s win win!

Linsey Knerl | Partner | Knerl Family Media 

I’ve been using HARO for over 4 years, and it has been quite the blessing for my small freelance/web content business. Pitches to HARO requests have landed me mentions in many magazines, including Reader’s Digest, All You, Woman’s World, and on sites like Fast Company, the Huffington Post, and Christian Science Monitor.

I have spoken at conferences on best practices, and in blog posts I wrote addresses Help A Reporter Out: How to answer HARO requests and get free PR for your Small Business.

If I had to pick one tip to share on using HARO:

Keep your word. In those few instances where a reporter would like to schedule an interview or ask questions via e-mail, be sure that you fulfill any promise that may be tied to a deadline. If you say that you will provide a stat or quote by 5 PM on Tuesday, do so. Failing to follow through will not only put the reporter in a ridiculous position with their editor, but it will keep a reporter from ever looking at a pitch of yours again. (Note: Many of the same reporters use HARO day in and day out. Believe me, if you alienate one, you are likely losing out on hundreds of potential future interview opportunities.)

Taylor Aldredge | Ambassador of Buzz | Grasshopper 

My tip for small business owners on how to get the most from HARO is the following:

Don’t be promotional – be resourceful.

The best relationships that came from HARO are the ones that started with me recommending a customer to a journalist or a contact of mind that fit the bill on a certain story. Sure, I pitch Grasshopper when I can if it fits, but I find more beneficial relationships and stories happen when I pay it forward.

The more you pay it forward, the better chance you have to be a trusted source for more than just one story or post.

Promoting your Business

Desiree Wolfe | CEO & Founder | Desiree Marketing 

There’s no need to be fancy. Just keep it simple! Reporters are receiving hundreds, if not thousands of responses and requests so keep your submission simple and remember to include your contact information and website so they can reach out if they are interested.

I have been using HARO for a long time and found that 1-2 paragraphs with a website link is the best response. Peek their interest so they ask for more information. Don’t overload but don’t be too vague.

Benjamin Doda | Founder | BDC

Using HARO successfully is all about being unselfish. Fight the urge to advertise your product or plug your company. If your response sounds like a sales pitch, the journalist will delete it.

Provide what they ask for, then stop.

Respond to the journalist like you would to someone on the street asking for directions – just tell them politely, and walk away.

Dodie Jacobi | Principal | Dodie Jacobi Consulting

Nothing has been more valuable to growing my businesses than credibility-boosting placement in media. I’m ready to grow my latest business to a national scale, so I started using HARO a month ago. I already have 4 media placements from the experience, and soon will upgrade to make my time scanning for relevant queries more efficient.

My HARO tips:

      • Start with the free version to establish your habit and get some momentum; you’ll be more excited about investing money after proving some return on your investment of time.
      • Follow query directions, providing no more or less than the reporter asks until invited to do so.
      • Include a signature (like mine here) that links to your bio to make their quick-check of your credentials easy (or make a two-sentence “quickie bio” part of your signature.)
      • Respond promptly to any follow up contact; reporters often are under tight deadlines.
      • Remember your investment and behavior for this query may impact whether your responses are picked up in the future. Be a model contributor with accurate, timely, and credible input.

John Z Wetmore | Producer | Perils For Pedestrians

I have been quoted in stories many times as a result of HARO.

A couple of tips:

  • Write your response so that the reporter can just cut and paste quotes if they want to. But have all your contact information there in case they do have additional questions.
  • Be flexible in your thinking about what stories you can contribute to.

Once in a while one of these articles will include a link to my website, which helps my results when someone Googles [pedestrians].

Gary Frisch | President | Swordfish Communications

My technique is straightforward: I jump right into my client’s (or my own) credentials, and what they might be able to contribute to the story. I offer an example or two if applicable. If the writer is looking for an anecdote or experience, I include it in its entirety. Most importantly, I respond quickly, hoping to be one of the first to get back to the writer. I don’t include attachments (knowing they probably won’t get through to the reporter), but do offer a link for more information, or simply offer to provide additional materials upon hearing back. And I don’t know if this qualifies as unique or unusual, but I always conclude on a friendly note, wishing the reporter luck with the article, whether my client is included or not.

It’s also important to keep track of all the HARO responses I send (I have a separate e-mail folder), so that I can follow up with writers to confirm usage, make sure they have everything they need, or find a copy of the article.

HARO CNN

It’s hard to quantify direct business benefits to me or my clients, but personally, I think my HARO results have raised my company’s own profile on social media, since I always post them there. And, as I’m writing this e-mail, a new client is being interviewed by a trade publication as a result of HARO. This is the first hit I’m getting for this client, so I think that will go a long way to building trust in my agency’s capabilities.

Dustin Christensen | Marketing Manager | Jackson White Attorney at Law

I use HARO both as source and reporter, and can share some good tips for sources looking to get more press:

Sources should understand that reporters are usually working on deadlines or editorial calendars that require quick action. Sources that offer quick responses while not sacrificing insight/value in their pitches often have the best chance of success. I’ve also found that offering really solid, concrete information can trump many responses. Reporters can easily weed out promotional or “fluff” pitches, so offering something substantial can make your pitch stand out.

As a reporter, I try to make sure I’m specific in my source requirements, and often include extra requirements like “the source must have a strong online or social media presence.” This way, I’m working with sources who are more likely to share content online when it’s released. As a reporter, I also make a habit of keeping track of all my sources, whether or not I use them for a specific article. If I receive too many replies, I often use the extra pitches for additional articles.

I also just wrote a Lawyer’s Guide to Using HARO

Bruce Hurwitz | President | Hurwitz Strategic Staffing 

Since May 2010 I have been cited in over 500 articles ALL through HARO.

Here are my rules on how to best use HARO:

      1. Be among the first to answer.
      2. Answer the questions succinctly and clearly.
      3. Proofread the answer before you send it so all the reporter has to do is cut and paste your response.
      4. Do not “pitch” the reporter. In other words, don’t tell them what they should be writing about. Just answer their questions.
      5. Promise to share the link to the article with your network and quantify it. (Publish this and I’ll share it with my 40,000 contacts.)
      6. When the article appears, thank them for including you.

Because of the all the press I obtained, I started offering career counseling services. Readers contacted me asking for service so I provided it.

Eric Erickson | Owner | Business Attitudes 

I love HARO. Because of HARO I was featured in April’s Success Magazine. I have also been in CNN Money, US News and the totally awesome Self Employed King.

Why do I like HARO?

Simply, it builds credibility. This world has become a dog eat dog world and you need to be creative and do what others are not willing to do to get your name out there.

The greatest tip I give to anyone is sign up to get the free emails and take the time to go through and respond to the topics that are relevant to you. The second greatest tip is not to be afraid to share your thoughts, ideas and experiences with those looking for relevant information.

Bob Bentz | President | ATS Mobile 

My advice on how to get your pitch published is to respond immediately. Don’t decide to do it at the end of the day or tomorrow, as by that time the author might already have chosen his/her sources.

Always ask for a link in exchange for your quote. Those links help your SEO tremendously.

Since getting involved with HARO, we’ve seen several high authority sites link to us which has definitely helped our SEO efforts. Moreover, I am aware of at least one good sale that came from a customer that read our quote about geo-location mobile advertising. They ended up placing a $30,000 deal with us!

Flynn Zaiger | CEO | Online Optimism 

The best way to get published on HARO is to make sure you pitch is unique.

Never copy and paste it! Always customize it exactly to what the reporter is using.

In addition, make all of your contact information (particularly if they asked for something specific, like a LinkedIn profile) is easily available under your response.

Craig Wolfe | President | CelebriDucks

HARO has been extraordinary for us. In fact we use it for almost all our PR now. We get picked up for stories in magazines, books, newspapers, blogs, and TV weekly.

I think the key in using it is all about how you make your pitch. If it’s a matter of fact somewhat dull run of the mill product or service that is perceived as not having much interest or pizzazz, then it will be hard to get picked up.

If you can take what you are offering and show them very concisely how it is unique, interesting, different, and newsworthy, and that it would hit their target demographic, you have a good shot!

Kyle Olson | Content & Outreach Manager | Digital Third Coast

Here are a 3 tips I can provide on how to use HARO for your Small Business Successfully:

        • In your HARO pitch, highlight your value immediately. The reporter usually receives quite of bit of pitches and you’ll want to establish your value quickly in order to cut through the email noise in their inbox.
        • Link to any relevant content in your pitch. It will help the reporter get a sense of the authority you have on the topic and possibly be a secondary source for their story.
        • Be humble and appreciative. You’re facilitating a need but you’re also going to be gaining a lot from the HARO “transaction”. Develop a positive relationship with the reporter by thanking them during the entire process.

Holly J. Kile | President | HJK Global Solutions 

2 Tips on How to Use HARO Successfully:

Tip #1: Even if a media query isn’t an exact fit, don’t be afraid to pitch your idea. The reporter may not get enough responses that fit their exact needs or your response may be even better than what they originally requested.

Tip #2: Don’t just rely on the category headlines. Be sure to review the entire query to get the details. Often, the headlines don’t give you enough information to make an informed decision on whether or not you’re a good source.

So there you have it dozens of terrific entrepreneurs share their successes and tips for how to use Help A Reporter Out. 

Are you ready to add HARO to your marketing ideas?

 

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