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How PR Professionals Can Be SuperHAROs

By September 25, 2015March 30th, 2017Guide to PR, PR Tech, Public Relations

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.

At present, PR professionals outnumber journalists 5:1. That’s a crowded field for media pitching, and can certainly sound like disheartening news for anyone soliciting for press coverage, but that would be forgetting the symbiosis between reporting and PR ––how reporters tell stories and public relations have stories they need told–– And nowhere is this mutually beneficial relationship more evident than on HARO. If you haven’t heard of Help A Reporter Out, you’re missing out. This free, online service emails you a list of queries, three times a day, from reporters looking for sources for their stories. Writers receive responses directly in their inbox and subsequently, get in touch with whomever best suits their request. Seeing one of these media opportunities through to the end results in a win-win-win situation: reporters meet their deadlines, PR professionals secure coverage, and clients get their brand recognition.

Not entirely unlike crafting a traditional media pitch, when it comes to getting press coverage through HARO, most importantly, you want to make it as easy as a possible for a journalist.

Nicole Fallon, Assistant Editor at Business News Daily, asks four key questions when assessing HARO responses to her queries.

Are the source’s name and title listed?

A source must be credible. This is the number one concern for any reporter seeking quotes and testimonials for their story through HARO. Don’t give reporters a reason to question or otherwise doubt the trustworthiness of your pitch.

Has the source answered my questions?

Respondents who take the time to answer with ready-to-use quotes are more likely to be used by a reporter.  Tight turnarounds and competing deadlines leave little to no time for a reporter to conduct a formal interview, so don’t reply with a request or offer for one.

Has the source provided any background information?

Journalists need to feel certain that their sources are actually well qualified to talk about the subject of their story.  However, that doesn’t mean sending an entire biography. Including a sentence, or two, about who you are and what you do will help reporters feel more confident about using you as a source, and you’ll also save them from spending extra time to research who you are. They’ll appreciate that, always.

Is the response cohesive and thorough?

This should go without saying, but HARO answers need to be written in complete sentences and express complete (read: intelligent) thoughts. Nicole explains, “Due to space and time constraints, I’m simply not able to feature every source who answers my query, even if they fit all the criteria I look for. But sometimes I will add a particularly good HARO respondent to my source list and make a note to reach out in the future if I’m writing about that topic again. So, don’t be afraid to toss your hat in the ring on HARO, and always be open to editorial opportunities that aren’t necessarily the query you responded to.”

Laura Spaventa, one of HARO’s original employees, recommends that responses to reporters be quick, topical, succinct and of course, error-free.

Realistically, most reporters won’t have the time to open every response they receive, and will impose a cut-off limit. Try your best to be one of the fastest to make it in their inbox. “The HARO editions go out at the same time every day: 5:45 am, 12:45 pm, and 5:45 pm (EST). Keep in mind that 130,000+ other sources also receive the editions at these established times.”

If you do not exactly fit what a reporter is looking for, then move on. Similarly, do not use a HARO query as a way to request that a reporter keep you in mind for the future. “When you pitch off-topic, you are breaking our rules. You will be banned from our service if you pitch off-topic.”

Reporters on deadlines want fast answers to their queries. Keep your pitches short. “Introduce yourself, explain why you are perfect for the article, and make sure you leave the best way, or even better, multiple ways, that they can contact you.”

Grammatical or spelling errors are purely unprofessional, and especially offensive to professional writers ––check your response carefully and more than just once, before sending it. “A surefire way to have your pitch deleted is to send a submission littered with mistakes. Time is of the essence, but a shoddy pitch will net you nothing.”

With these guidelines and tips in mind, you’ll be able to rise to SuperHARO status in no time!

You can sign-up for HARO here.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.