If you’re a blogger or content marketer in the SEO or link-building space, you’ve undoubtedly come across HARO.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is an online database that connects journalists with industry professionals to get expert quotes for their content, which could be a blog post, round-up, or even a news article. In return, they will be credited and even receive a link to their website.
And with backlinks being among the top 3 Google ranking factors, it’s no wonder that HARO is such a popular offsite SEO tool for many professionals.
In this article, you’ll learn how HARO works, the key benefits of using it in your business, and the steps to respond to queries.
Let’s get to it!
HARO 101: What does it involve?
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a website/service that journalists, reporters, and bloggers use to gather quotes for their content.
For example, a Yahoo News reporter could post their question on the platform, and then experts respond (submit pitches). In return, the expert with the best response gets a backlink.
HARO’s press coverage involves the possibility of:
- Getting quoted in famous media outlets.
- Getting high-quality backlinks.
- Exposing your brand to more potential customers.
So, if you’re a thought leader in your niche, you simply sign up on HARO as a source.
You’ll receive questions from reporters, Monday-Friday, in your email box. But using HARO solely for building backlinks violates the service’s rules. So instead, your priority should be to contribute high-quality content that brings value to the audience.
Is Help a Reporter Out worth it?
It depends on your goals and the amount of time you’re willing to spend. If you have a whole team or even one person willing to work with HARO, then it’s worth a try. However, if you have a small team and your goals require guaranteed results, I don’t recommend relying on HARO and spending too much time on it.
For example, if you have a new website and your goal is to build links, HARO is not a good tactic. Instead, focus on email outreach and link building through guest posts. You can read my in-depth guide on the topic right here.
The same goes for Public Relations – HARO is a great tool, but you’ll need more than that to end up in good news stories and establish relationships with media outlets.
Is Help a Reporter free?
Help a Reporter Out has both free and paid subscriptions. You can start by signing up for a free subscription, where you’ll receive the HARO emails. Then, in the future, you can subscribe to paid plans for advanced business features like customizing your profile, getting text and keyword alerts, etc.
The screenshot below shows each subscription’s features.
Why should I use HARO for my business?
This website is used by many different outlets, including brands such as Forbes, The Penny Hoarder, Business Insider, Homes and Gardens, etc.
While it’s not always guaranteed that you will be featured in their expert round-ups, HARO is the easiest way to gain access to their journalists by impressing them with good content and professional advice.
Here are the benefits summarized:
– You expose your brand to your target audience via various channels, not just your own;
– You get quality backlinks from news sites, which is an opportunity to grow your business website traffic;
– You have the chance to develop relationships with reporters who are usually hard to reach;
– You have the opportunity to share your experience and grow your brand as a business owner.
Of course, there are also some disadvantages to using this platform. Here are the main ones:
- There is no guarantee that you will get published;
- There is a lot of competition, so you need to put effort into the text;
- There is a big chance you will get ghosted, and then you’ll have to wait at least a month until you can use the content;
- It can be very discouraging to send multiple pitches and not get links;
- Oftentimes, anonymous websites are not good quality, so you end up wasting a pitch on a link that’s not worth it.
The 4 steps to submit a HARO query
Submitting HARO queries starts with signing up as a source, receiving query emails, choosing the best fit query, and personalizing your pitches to stand out from the competition.
Read on for a further breakdown of the steps.
1. Sign Up to HARO as a source
To get started with HARO, click the link www.helpareporter.com, then click “I’m a source.”
After selecting “I’m source” and hitting the sign-up button, you’ll get to the basic subscription page, which is preferable for small business owners.
Fill out the form with the relevant information and click sign up.
2. Receive emails daily, Monday to Friday
During the set-up of your profile, you will have the option to choose how many
HARO emails per day you want to receive and the main topics.
This is how the email looks:
And this is how the individual request looks:
In the top part, you can find the contact info, the site, and most importantly, the deadline for this media request.
3. Find relevant queries within your niche.
By ensuring everything is in line with your niche and expertise, you have a better chance of being used as a source and getting a relevant backlink. Journalists usually list their requirements in the query itself.
For example, they might be looking for professional chefs in the New York area or people with hands-on email marketing experience.
Before you start writing, make sure you fulfill all of those requirements. Otherwise, reporters will ignore you.
You also need to pay attention to the different categories.
Zestard Technologies found that general categories receive the highest queries while sports receive the lowest. Breaking it down, the categories and subcategories that receive the highest query number are:
- General: Art, DIY, Gadget, Books, Gift, Home Decor, Adventure, and School & College
- Business and Finance: Accounting, Entrepreneurship, Frugal Living, Human Resources, Investment, Offline & Online Marketing, Business Ideas & Tips.
- Lifestyle and Fitness: Personal Health, Relationship, Parenting, Nutrition.
- Biotech and Health: Mental Health, Medicine, Drugs, Nursing, Medical Professional Fashion, Life Hacks, and Personal Development.
High Tech: Networking, Cyber Security, DevOps.
This means that responding to a niche category increases your chances of standing out from the crowd and getting a positive response.
4. Submit personalized pitches
To personalize your pitches, ensure you have good information about the news site and reporter. Then, visit their website to learn about its metrics using Ahrefs or other google ranking tools. (Note that a reporter may keep their website anonymous; in this case, you’d have to focus on their query requirements only).
There are two crucial Ahrefs metrics you should focus on:
- Domain Rating – represents the overall strength of a website’s backlink profile
- Search traffic – the amount of traffic they get at the domain level.
If the metrics are high and the query is in your niche, research the author too. Go through a few articles by the author to see if they link to their sources. They probably won’t link to your site if there are no links in their articles.
Finally, check how the website has featured HARO pitches before – it’s mostly an article with a collection of quotes.
When submitting a HARO pitch, you can either log in to the platform to submit the pitch or send a regular email through your client – Gmail, Yahoo, Outlook, etc. The HARO email usually looks like this: query…@helpareporter.net.
Submitting via email is faster. But HARO automatically removes all formatting from your pitch, so the journalist will receive a wall of text that can be a bit hard to read. You can make it easier for them by numbering your paragraphs and answers and not placing any hyperlinks, including your email signature.
Alternatively, submit your pitch through HARO.
First, go to My Pitches, then select Submit a New Pitch.
Submitting through the platform allows you to see what your pitch will look like (in terms of formatting) when the reporter receives it.
How to respond to a HARO query
When responding to a HARO query, research the journalist and their website, cover everything in the query, and add something unique to make your pitch stand out (e.g., an experience that makes you a pro in the question, your unique insight, etc.).
From Milosz, who has a series of successful HARO links, you need to prioritize your niche queries and avoid queries that you have little knowledge of because reporters look for the following in sources:
- Leadership thoughts
Below are the steps Milosz uses to respond to a HARO query:
- Pay attention to the request because reporters include specific questions you need to answer within the response.
- Find out the journalist’s websites to learn about their interests and the kind of information they post. (Build relationships with them).
- Include the query’s title in the email subject line of the pitch.
- Add a quick introduction after the subject line, explaining why you’re confident to respond to the query.
- Answer all the questions.
- Add information to prove your experience.
- Confirm you use the language and the format as specified in the query.
- Proofread the response and nail a Call to Action (CTA).
Below is a sample of his winning response script:
Top tips for submitting HARO pitches
There are four questions that reporters use to determine if a pitch is worth their attention, so ensure that you address them:
- Are the sources’ names and titles listed? – Write your name and title
- Has the source answered the questions?
- Has the source provided any background information?
- Is the response cohesive and thorough?
Below are more tips for using HARO.
- Read and evaluate each query carefully to determine if you meet all the journalist’s criteria before responding to it;
- Write the main question first (in summarized sentences) to make it easier for the journalist to grab a quote that answers their question;
- Reporters often work with a quick turnaround, so you need to send the responses quickly. But if a quick turnaround isn’t possible, pitch within the set deadline. Don’t waste your time writing for something with a passed deadline; you’ll receive the following automatic mail in return:
- Always proofread and edit every pitch before submitting it. Poorly written pitches get deleted quickly;
- Stay on the topic because journalists look for real-world expertise and insights. Don’t go off-topic unless the query asks for it. Off-topic and unsolicited pitches are against HARO’s rules and can result in a ban from the service. Also, you get no chance for a follow-up, so you have only one opportunity to make a good impression;
- Your HARO pitch should be short, at most 300 words. But many people prefer 175 words or less. Also, use services such as Dropbox or Google to send links to images because attachments are stripped from the email to avoid viruses;
- Many journalists quote directly from your responses. So, make it easier for them to quote your reply. For example, if you answer on behalf of your client, directly reply with your client’s response. Don’t reply solely with “My client can speak about this;.”
- Include your alternative contact information – your email address, website, and social media handles;
- Share the journalist’s articles on social media to establish a relationship. Even after failing to get quoted the first time, you’ll have a chance after a few trials due to the relationship;
- Keep testing your pitches until you get the right strategy that wins quotes – test your subject lines, pitch content, and media relations tactics;
- Save unpublished pitches somewhere to repurpose for your blog content;
- Use HARO queries for inspiration on blog topics because the queries are what other reporters deem relevant for their audiences. So if you share an audience with the reporter, their topic selection can inspire you.
Key Takeaways on Help A Reporter Out (HARO)
HARO is an excellent public relations and SEO tool, but you shouldn’t solely rely on it for your company’s PR or link-building strategy. Instead, let it become a part of the whole. As a business owner, this tool gives you an amazing opportunity to build the credibility of your brand, as long as you have the patience for it.
And remember, just as any excellent outreach strategy, personalization and value are the keys to success.
Best of luck as you wait to reach out to the world!