One of the great sessions at the Financial Blogger Conference included a panel that discussed best practices for garnering the attention of the mainstream media. While many insist that the Internet is the way of the future, it is clear that more traditional forms of media, especially broadcast, still matter. One of questions that came up was whether or not you can use Help A Reporter (HARO) to improve your chances of receiving mainstream media coverage.
The short answer is: Yes.
HARO is a site that connects reporters with sources. When reporters at media outlets, including some of the major news networks (CBS, CNN, ABC, Fox), Gannett, AP and a wide variety of trade publications, need resources for stories, they can sign in and request what they need. Sources respond with a pitch, or with information they can provide about the subject in question.
As a blogger, you can sign up as a source. (You can also sign up as a reporter, and find no shortage of helpful sources for your own blog needs.) When a reporter needs information, or insight, he or she will create a query. As a source, you can choose the level of engagement you are interested in. The free version will allow you to receive queries in your inbox; from there, you respond to relevant pitches, and show that you are a good source. You can also subscribe for access to more frequent alerts, early alerts and the ability to create a profile.
However, as panelists pointed out, you need to be quick when answering reporter queries, since reporters are more likely to read only the first few pitches. Once you have proved yourself useful, though, there is the chance that you might make it into the pool of sources that a reporter turns to regularly when it comes to your area of expertise.
Crafting Your HARO Pitch
Part of your success depends on a good pitch. First of all, before you pitch, make sure you have some experience and knowledge relating to the subject of interest for the reporter. Then, as you create your pitch, keep the following items in mind:
- Brevity: Get to the point. No need to ramble. Make your point concisely, and do it early in the email.
- Address the query: Read the query thoroughly so that you can address what the reporter wants. Follow instructions about what to put in the subject line, and answer questions asked. Also, make sure your pitch shows that you are qualified as a source.
- Provide examples: If the reporter asks for tips, throw out between two and four. Show that you can be useful. Concrete examples are vital to success.
- Include contact information: Provide your contact information in the pitch. This includes your name, email and phone number. Make sure you are available before sending your pitch; if you aren’t flexible, the reporter will move on to someone who is.
Before you send your pitch, read it through to ensure that you have followed directions and addresses essential points. Correct for spelling and grammar as well. Try to keep it professional. Only after you have double checked should you hit “send.”
Remember: You will probably answer several queries before being used as a source. HARO should not be your only resource for media attention, but it can be one easy way to look for opportunities to get your name out there as a respected and valuable expert.