If you’ve worked in PR, journalism or marketing over the last 10 years, you’ve likely heard of HARO.
What is HARO (Help A Reporter Out?)
HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out and is a resource for both journalists and sources alike that helps aggregate responses to and answer questions in order to use them for a story.
What is HARO (Help A Reporter Out) used for?
A journalist or writer might put out a query, “Looking for ways that VR is being used in small businesses”. Likewise, a small business (or its PR rep) that is using VR can respond directly to the journalist, share its experience and potentially be featured in an article.
While there are many different uses for HARO, it boils down to two sides: writers and sources. And, as someone who has used it for both purposes, I can help you break it down.
How does HARO work for journalists and writers?
HARO is an important source for journalists and writers. As the name implies, the platform literally helps reporters out. I often use HARO to crowd-source answers to common social media, marketing and technology questions that we address on our G2 Crowd Learning Hub blog. Using HARO allows me to not only get a great diversity of answers but to also feature emerging voices in marketing who may otherwise not have the opportunity to contribute to the conversation.
It’s quite simple for writers to use HARO. Simply make an account, post a query and watch the responses roll in. From there, it’s up to you which you want to keep or toss.
How does HARO work for sources?
HARO can be incredibly useful for sources as well. When I worked in public relations, I often browsed the HARO email I got three times a day looking for queries that would fit the wheelhouse of anything my clients could comment on. Sometimes the quality of the lead was unbelievable - we’d get placements in the Associated Press, Forbes or Entrepreneur Magazine for an otherwise small brand that, really, no one was knocking the door down to get a quote from. True, sometimes it wouldn’t be a good fit, but it’s always worth sending a quick email if that means your client or brand can participate in a big story in a widely read publication.
Sources interested in HARO can sign up for the emails on the website, then just respond to the query that interests you.
Here’s what the email looks like from a source’s perspective.
Here’s what an individual query looks like from a source’s perspective.
How to post a HARO query
It’s just a few easy steps to post a HARO query if you’re a journalist or writer looking to use the free service.
1. Visit https://www.helpareporter.com/ and register as a journalist.
2. Once your account is created and verified (check your email!), click "My Queries" at the top of the page.
3. Then, click "Submit a Query" on the right side of the page.
4. Fill out the request boxes and be as specific as possible. Here’s an example of what I generally send in to HARO. For example, in the request I made below, I specified even the word count.
5. When you're ready, hit submit - bear in mind that HAROs go out three times a day - morning, afternoon and evening. Try and think a few days ahead and give at least two or three days for responses to roll in unless you're in a major time crunch.
Once you start getting responses, they'll be emailed to you by HARO. You will also be able to access them on the HARO website by clicking "Past Queries" and then scrolling down the page once you select the query in question.
HARO best practices
There are a few ways to amplify your success with HARO.
Social media and web integration
When you create your HARO query, don’t forget to request social media handles from your sources. This includes Twitter handles for the writer and the brand, LinkedIn URLs and the official brand website. Not only will your sources appreciate you throwing them a link in your final product, you’ll also be able to give your article extra juice on social media when it runs. By tagging your sources, you’re almost guaranteed to lengthen your reach for social media marketing purposes.
Even if the post doesn’t expressly request it, go ahead and add your URLs and Twitter/LinkedIn handles to your post if you send it in as well - chances are, the writer will be grateful.
By the time your article runs, you should have built a nice, positive rapport with your sources. If you’ve ever been on the other side of the writing/PR dichotomy, you know how frustrating it can be to spend time formulating a thoughtful response to a HARO or email, only to be left hanging with no idea if it was received.
In the interest of being a decent person, I like to send the sources I accept a brief note letting them know that I’ll be using their quote and thanking them for participating. Then, when the piece runs, I send them an email with a link and an idea of when I plan on sharing it on social media. These little touches help turn an easy request for info into a relationship - in many cases, I’m more than happy to work with sources again, either on a guest post or another contributor piece, if they’ve given me a good-quality response and quick communication.
HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a free and easy tool that benefits both writers and sources. Give it a try!
Amy Lecza is the senior manager of content marketing at G2 Crowd. She's passionate about learning, editing and copy writing, and she has been known to keep a red pen on her person for copy editing emergencies. (she/her/hers)