About three years ago I heard about HARO at a blogging conference. I immediately signed up and although it took a while to figure out how to use it best for me and my blog, I have come away with great tips and insight on this unique resource. Since signing up, I have been quoted on many websites such as Associated Press, Good Morning America, ABC news, Parents magazine, and others. I have also been quoted in print in some newspapers.
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out. It is a service you sign up for where you receive three e-mails per day looking for sources. In the e-mails you will find tons of reporters asking for certain people who are experienced in various topics. The queries are divided into different categories such as business, finance, education, lifestyle, general, etc. The best way I find relevant queries is to skim these emails, looking for queries which pertain to me. I keep an eye on the categories that apply to me such as lifestyle, or general. For example, lets say Parents magazine is looking for mothers of picky eaters to be quoted in their next magazine issue. I would respond hoping to be quoted with my experience about my five-year old who is only alive because of the invention of cereal.
Here are a few of my tips for using HARO to gain exposure as a blogger:
- Not every email is going to have something that you want to respond to. I go weeks without one that interests me. Then all the sudden, I will have two to three in one e-mail that I want to reply to. Also once you start submitting answers to queries, I find it is best to submit it and forget it. Think of it as a fun bonus if they reply and want to use your quote.
- If you find a query that applies to you, respond immediately. These deadlines are usually pretty tight and ideally you want to be one of the first people to respond. That’s when having a smart phone with e-mail comes in handy. I have been known to respond even in a checkout line at the grocery store. These responses do not need to be novels. Answer the reporter’s question in a concise way. The reporter will contact you if they need more information. Leaving a phone number is also helpful. Although I do have to say from experience that talking to ABC news in the bra aisle at Walmart with your kids can be a little nerve-racking, but worth it.
- Organization helps. I immediately copy and paste the query that I am interested in into a new email. This way I have all the information I need and it’s easy to find the right email address to send it to. By doing this I don’t have to keep going back to the HARO emails to try to find the right query. With three emails being sent to you a day it can be really confusing to find the right one again. I do however delete the information I copied and pasted right before I send.
- Be ready. Sometimes the reporters need a high-resolution photo, a head shot or a candid photo of your family that applies to the piece. make sure you have the copyright to it or that it can be used if you include the source. They are usually pretty specific on what they need from you. Make sure to be prompt in your e-mails.
- Getting a link to your blog is not always a given. You have to decide if it is still worth it to you. Lets say it is a big publication and they do not include a link to your blog. There is still the benefit of getting your name or your blog name out there and to be able to say you have been quoted on these big websites. You can always ask the reporters beforehand if your blog can be linked. Most of them will do that no problem. Also do not expect a huge amount of traffic to your blog if linked. It can happen. But if you’re just doing it for the traffic, you’ll most likely be disappointed. Some reporters will send you a proof of your quote to approve before publication and many will e-mail you when the article goes live.
I really have found HARO to be a great resource for my blog. It is fun to see your name on these big websites. I think it is important to keep trying even if you don’t get quoted immediately. There are so many queries each day that it will definitely happen eventually. These reporters are constantly looking for people to quote. So why not have it be you?