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Small Business Marketing

Help a Reporter Out

Today, we’re going to wrap up our week-long look at how you can use public relations in your marketing with an episode about one of my favorite PR tools. The tool is a service called “Help a Reporter Out”, or HARO for short, and you can find it at helpareporter.com. Basically, this is a service that reporters use when they need a source for a story they’re working on. You see, reporters have a tough job—they sometimes have to write about subjects they’re not familiar with, and are usually working with a short deadline.

That’s where you come in, because YOU are an expert in your field, and can serve as a source for reporters. Have you ever wondered where all the people quoted in news stories come from? Did you assume that they’re all some kind of big-shots in their industry who meet reporters for cocktails at the country club after work to share their wisdom? Well, I suppose it might happen that way occasionally, but more often than not they’re just regular folks like you and me who responded to a reporter’s inquiry using a service like HARO.

Here’s how HARO works. When you create a free account, you’ll get three emails a day during the week—one in the morning, one in the afternoon, and one in the evening. At the beginning of each email, there will be a list of questions reporters want answered, broken down by industry. All you have to do is open the email, scan your industry’s section to see if there’s any questions you can answer, and if so, click on the link to take you to that question in the email. At that point, you’ll be able to read a short description of exactly what information the reporter is looking for, as well as their name and what publication they work for. If you can help them, you click the link provided in the email, which is unique to your HARO account, and send a reply.

Now, reporters using HARO might get dozens, maybe even hundreds of replies to any given query, so to increase the chances of them using YOUR reply, you want to make sure you give a concise reply, and if possible try and take a unique angle on the story that might be different than all the other responses they’re getting.

You might also want to try out a simple trick I’ve used in the past with great results. After I submitted a reply through HARO, I would go and find the reporter’s profile on LinkedIn, and send them a request to connect. I changed the default message to read “Hi, I just replied to your HARO inquiry about such and such a topic—hope it helps, Sincerely, Kevin.” After I started using that method, I was quoted in three blog posts, two e-books, an actual book, and a magazine article, and interviewed on a podcast—all in three months.

I can’t guarantee you’ll have the same results, but I can guarantee that if you take no action as a result of watching this episode, you won’t get ANY results. So, go sign up for HARO today, start responding to some inquiries, and just see what happens.
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