HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is an invaluable tool for content marketers. As I explained in a previous post, HARO connects journalists and bloggers to sources whose expertise they can use in their upcoming articles.

For a small business owner, HARO is a free and easy way to earn some free PR, links to your site, and to help build a reputation as a leader in your field.

The following tips will help you maximize HARO as a source.

Using HARO as a Source

HARO is a free email newsletter that arrives three times daily. Each email contains a list of queries from journalists and bloggers looking for help with their stories.

When you see a query that you’d like to answer, simply email the writer back using the anonymized email address supplied. Pay close attention to the query’s details and requirements, and do your best to follow them to the letter.

My top tips for submitting successful HARO pitches

Managing this worthwhile commitment

An email that arrives three times a day can sound daunting – especially if, like me, you subscribe to more than one HARO list (I subscribe to two, and therefore get six HARO emails a day).

However, it’s well worth it to spend a few minutes each day perusing the emails. Here’s how I manage this ongoing commitment:

Gmail filters

HARO is one of the few newsletters I allow to be sent to my main work email inbox and not my dedicated spam address. But that doesn’t mean I let is run roughshod all over my inbox.

Instead, because I use G Suite for Charles Ave (basically Gmail for businesses), I can set up a filter so that my daily workflow isn’t interrupted.

My filter is set up so that every HARO newsletter is already marked as “Read” and goes into my “Updates” folder, rather than my main inbox. Because it’s marked as read, I don’t get a notification that a new email has arrived (nor do I have to click on it to mark it as read), so I eliminate what would be a six-times-daily hassle.

I keep HARO newsletters in my second inbox tab, a separate inbox that I only look at when I have time. This helps me prioritize client work over promoting Charles Ave Marketing, which, though important, comes second.

Sometimes several days will pass without my having looked through HARO. That’s fine. Usually, the deadlines to submit pitches are only a day or two from the time the query is made, so if a HARO email is a few days old, I just delete it and move on to fresher ones.

Creating (limited) templated content

Another time-saver is having some content that’s ready to go. Note, this content should never be the content of the pitch itself, as you’ll want that to be uniquely tailored to the journalist’s query.

However, it is a good idea to have these on-hand and ready:

  1. Your bio – Create 1-2 sentences that cover your title, business name, and a brief statement about your expertise. You might even have several variations for different topics. For instance, I respond to queries about email marketing, blogging, and PPC, so each version of my bio directly addresses each subject.
  2. Links to your social media profiles and website URL for article attribution
  3. A link to your headshot – Note, when journalists receive pitches through their anonymized HARO email address, the HARO inbox will not properly render image attachments. Therefore, you will want your headshot stored in the cloud and publicly accessible in case the writer wants to use it.

Submitting successful HARO pitches

These tips will help you become a trusted HARO source:

  1. Only reply to queries for which you are qualified to answer.
  2. Keep your answer succinct and relevant to the query – it’s almost never a good idea to copy/paste a press release. Instead, answer thoughtfully. Answer the question and briefly explain your relevant expertise. Give concrete examples if you can.
  3. Use conversational language instead of business jargon. Write like you talk, so your answers come across as organic.
  4. Don’t be salesy. The journalist isn’t looking to promote you or your product, but instead is looking for the best quotes that will help the article. Try to meet the journalist’s needs, not your own.
  5. Include contact details in case the journalist wants to ask any follow-up questions.

Example pitch

A few weeks ago, a HARO query came across that I felt I had the right expertise for:

Calling all marketing pros! We’re looking for some input from AdWords experts on the following prompt:

How does content impact your AdWords quality score, and how does your quality score impact CPC and ad rank?

ABOUT US: Brandpoint is a Twin Cities-based content marketing agency and we’re constantly updating our blog to educate prospects and clients about the latest tips and trends in the industry (check it out at brandpoint.com/blog).

Requirements:

Must be in the marketing industry. Please submit no more than a 300-word response. Include a short bio, including current job position and link to relevant website. Your answer may appear on our next blog post.

Paying attention to all the requirements (word count, short bio, link, etc) I responded with the following:

Hi Valerie:

Here is my input on your HARO request. I hope it helps! Reach out if you have any questions.

Without a Quality Score, it would be almost impossible for smaller advertisers to compete against large companies with limitless budgets – the big guys would simply outbid them and win every time. AdWords introduced Quality Score to improve the user experience, as well as make the playing field a little fairer for those competing in advertising auctions.

Your ad rank is a combination of your Quality Score and your CPC bid, so as your Quality Score goes up, your average CPC may go down. This is a great incentive to work on your Quality Score.

To improve Quality Score, make sure the keywords you’re bidding on are relevant to the ad copy you use, and those same keywords are prevalent on your landing page. Don’t go so far as to keyword-stuff, though – the algorithm is smarter than that.

Another way to improve your Quality Score is to include a privacy policy that demonstrates your company treats user data responsibly.

Finally, it’s a good idea to do some landing page testing with various layouts and copy because the algorithm will also reward pages with high conversion rates and user interaction with a better Quality Score.

Bio: Kim Kohatsu is the founder of Charles Ave Marketing, a certified Google AdWords Partner. She specializes in PPC and content marketing.

Website: CharlesAveMktg.com and/or PPCconsultantLA.com

Thanks!

In my pitch, I not only explained my expertise but also tried to demonstrate my expertise in my reply. I used conversational language, and kept my answer short and “quotable.” I included both dos and don’ts, and gave tips on how to improve.

Update, Oct 27, 2017: Part of my pitch was used in the final article on Brandpoint.  

Successful HARO pitches

Using HARO, I’ve been able to gain PR for myself and Charles Ave Marketing in Glamour magazine, Social Media Today, and Girls in Tech, among many others.

These posts make buzzworthy fodder for our social media networks and raise our business profile in the eyes of prospective clients.

Are you using HARO for your business? What results have you seen?

Author: KIM KOHATSU

Kim Kohatsu is the founder of Charles Ave Marketing, where she brings the power and reach of Madison Ave to small businesses and startups.