Finding sources for a news article is hard when you don't know where to look or if you don't have contacts within an industry. It's also hard to contribute your knowledge on a given subject when you don't know who needs your help. Enter HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out and is a source for news people (traditional and new media) to find sources for their stories quickly.
If you're chosen as a source, you have the opportunity to ask the reporter to include information about you and your blog. As you can imagine, it's a popular site both for reporters and would-be sources because everyone is winning in that formula. The one rule of HARO is that you must not waste people's time; if you aren't an expert in a field, you should never respond to a query (not that any of you would, but it's an integral part of the site and worth mentioning to be clear).
When you respond to a request from HARO or any other news source, you have to convince them that you're the best person to ask for answers to their questions. The way to do that is to knock their socks off when you query back with your bio.
You can subscribe to HARO via their web site and you'll receive three e-mails every day with requests for sources in specific areas (e.g., travel, tech, general). If you see something you can speak to, you respond directly to the reporter making the query.
Here are some tips for writing a successful response to queries:
- Keep it short, two paragraphs is sufficient. Introduce yourself, address the necessary information the reporter asked for (e.g., any questions from the query), and why you'd be a good source. This is where it gets tricky--you should be short and to the point, but not so much so that the reporter doesn't really know why she should work with you. To help make your point, give a short overview of your expertise and links to back it up. Be sure to tell the reporter how you can help them.
- Answer the questions, if any, in the original query. You're more
apt to be chosen if you're responding to the reporter's actual request rather than something close, but not quite the same. She's under a deadline and is asking for what she needs--don't give her something else. Speaking of which...
- Pay attention to the deadline. Most of the HARO queries have a deadline for submitting yourself as a source. Be mindful of those.
More advice on writing responses to HARO (and other other) queries:
- How to Respond to ProfNet, PRLeads, and Helpareporter.com Queries, Part 1:
Provides actual responses to queries and discusses why they don't work or weren't chosen as sources. Excellent information here.
- How to Respond to ProfNet, PRLeads, and Helpareporter.com Queries, Part 2:
More info on responding to queries. This woman knows her stuff and
she's sharing it. Love that. Youcan learn a lot from these two articles.
- 6 Tips to Responding to HARO Queries: These are similar to the ones I mention above, but she builds on them and offers a few more.
- Ten Essential Tips For Getting The Most Out Of HARO & ProfNet : This article offers excellent advice on how to be chosen as a source (e.g., be quotable, help them help themselves).
- Help a Reporter (and Yourself) Out: A great explanation of why you'd even want to be involved with HARO.
- Interview with Peter Shankman at SmallBiz Marketing Tips:
Love the quote from Peter Shankman (founder of HARO) from this story: "Word. Of. Mouth. End of story. Create something beneficial to people, and they'll tell everyone about it for you."
Melanie Nelson writes tips and instructions for bloggers at Blogging Basics 101.
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