How To Get a Halo Effect From The HARO Tool
John Bowie* You may not think it is a great idea to help a reporter out – all that ‘fake news’ and all – but using HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is one of the very best ways you can boost your firm or business public relations and publicity efforts in a highly effective manner.
HARO can actually provide a ‘halo’ for your business in a way you may never have expected and yet it remains one of the overlooked tools in the SEO arsenal for developing your online authority and profile.
Using HARO correctly means responding promptly with accurate information in a succinct manner. Submitting a press release using HARO is not what to do, but rather to read and answer the reporter’s query.
Reaching major media sources is gold for a small firm, blogger or business. Being able to project authority by being quoted in TIME, The New York Times or WSJ could transform any website with valuable links, let alone the multitude of over 1 million sources used by HARO.
Here’s how HARO works for law firm clients we have assisted and how it can help you in any business at all, whether you are running a content marketing campaign for your business or simply looking to build your visibility and brand.
So here are 10 tips to use HARO effectively and easily, as one of the most effective way you can boost your law firm marketing, or the marketing for your business, be it a real estate consultancy or a restaurant.
It is so powerful and yet largely overlooked, providing a massive opportunity for developing your online exposure.
First, just to clarify what HARO is, it is a popular online service for journalists – ‘Help A Reporter Out’.
Reporters need sources, data and information. And opinions. The HARO system provides a chance to help reporters by responding to their queries, which come to you via email. If quoted, you receive invaluable media coverage and the exposure, enquiry level and links that can massively boost your business.
The site started when Peter Shankman (pictured, left) started with a Facebook group in 2007, which continued to grow until HARO became the invaluable online tool it is today.
So what do you need to do to make this work for you?
I’ve outlined the 10 steps you need to take to make HARO succeed and to use the tool to its full effect.
1 Register and Complete Your Profile
The HARO registration is completely straight forward and once registered and confirmed you need to also ensure that you identify that you are a ‘source’ and location.
You will be subscribed to the HARO master list, but you then identify the specific industry area that you are in so that you will receive the queries related to your professional or business area of interest and expertise.
2 Set Up and Read Your Emails
Once listed and depending upon how many lists you are on your will receive emails from HARO. You need to respond to those that are relevant to your nominated area(s) of expertise.
The emails will also identify the media outlets that are requesting information. You will receive a number of them depending upon what lists you have subscribed to, but if you’re serious about HARO and boosting your profile you need to read your HARO emails and respond to any HARO query.
It is a good idea to filter your emails so they go into a separate label in your inbox as part of a HARO email list. Rather than being flooded with queries you can set the time to check through the HARO queries and make sure you ensure you also select the box to ‘never send to spam’.
3 Respond Correctly
The key to your response to the media queries is to ensure you identify yourself as someone who does have expertise or experience in the area requested.
You need to ensure that you are reading the email and what the reporter is looking for carefully so that you can respond correctly to relevant queries.
The journalists are looking for subject matter experts so make sure you briefly qualify yourself as such, which means you need to carefully identify the HARO requests by reading the requirements section and seeing and the journalists are looking for. Don’t waste their time, quite apart from yours.
Make sure you double check on what the reporter is seeking to do. For instance, if I was to respond on a matter of online legal marketing then a quick check on my LinkedIn profile would indicate that I have experience and expertise in that area as LawFuel publisher, particularly relating to recommendations and expertise in any area.
Keep in mind that there are a bunch of responses to these queries and so you need to then take the next, key step in making your reply.
According to Cision, HARO’s parent company, there are over 800,000 people who have signed on as a source so there is a ton of ‘expert sources’ out there, many of which will be anything but expert, however the volume of emails coming through is substantial, so you need to conform to the necessary requirements.
4 Respond Quickly & Accurately
We all know that reporters work to deadlines and while you will not know when ‘your’ item might be published, you will stand a far better chance with your law firm marketing or whatever other valuable media coverage you seek if you respond rapidly and in the right way.
Responding in a timely manner generally means responding as soon as you possibly can. First in, best dressed.
And before sending your response make sure it is accurate and grammatically correct. Badly written responses are generally quickly deleted so focus on presenting a well written ‘brief’, as Cision themselves recommend.
5 Stand Out With Your Best Pitch
You need to make sure that when you respond you are doing so with content that identifies your experience or expertise.
That means you need to avoid being lengthy or obtuse and keep to the relevant topics. Keep your response to the point and factual and to a few, short paragraphs.
The recommendation from Cision is to keep your brief to no more than 300 words, so don’t be overly flowery in language or add all sorts of attachments. Avoid regarding your pitch as a press release, touting some service or offering you have.
Reporters, like you, are time poor and are looking for key contacts who meet their requirements, they don’t want to be bothered by a lot of unnecessary verbiage and attachments, which in most cases will be stripped from your email anyway.
By keeping things brief and to the point you can ensure that you are better placed to get their attention. Don’t however be so brief that you require them to contact you. They will do so if you have done your response correctly.
6 Now Submit your Perfect Pitch
Once you are ready to submit your pitch go to the submission page here and make sure you assist the visibility of your pitch by adding a great subject line to catch the reporter’s eye, particularly those in big media outlets that receive a huge volume of enquiry via HARO and elsewhere.
Subject lines, like headlines, deserve some careful attention and give you a better chance to be seen, so give that issue some time, which is our next step.
7 Produce a Top Subject Line
When looking at the subject line consider some key factors like a direct and personal subject line. A personalized subject line gets a better open rate, but with something like HARO you need to hit the journalist with any hard stats or research you have that directly related to what they are asking.
If you have any fresh content, research, statistics or the like then you will more likely get noticed if you’re on topic because any journalist likes something relevant and new.
And remember that any journalist who gives you the time of day with a response or takes up your message is to be thanked and followed up. You create your network by building these relationships so don’t squander them. Be grateful and you can both help one another.
8 Use Google Alerts to Monitor Response
You should use Google Alerts to check what the uptake is for your comments. Remember that for many people like lawyers, various experts, economists, business people and others there are daily opportunities that can arise from HARO and using Google Alerts will let you keep up to date.
Remember too that many reporters will themselves not know when an item will be published, so you need to check the media placement or media mentions through your alerts.
9 Use Social Media To Spread the Word
Once your response has been published you need to spread the word via your own social media channels. The distribution channels you use will magnify the media mention and boost your own visibility.
You can use press releases or simply post your reference in the New York Times (if only, but it can work), Forbes, Business Insider or whatever. It will boost your credibility and authority, so use LinkedIn, Facebook and whatever other social media outlet you prefer.
10 Make HARO Pitches Yourself
One of the overlooked advantages of HARO is not just receiving requests from journalists for quotes, but also to make your own pitch for an article in your area of expertise.
You need to submit a request at this link and provide appropriate information about your proposed article, offering to link back to the source. This reverses the use of HARO by providing useful information based upon what you have received from authority sources that can rank both them and your own site.
The Net Benefits of HARO
HARO’s ability to build authority and links to your site make it one of the most important sources of marketing for any business. For people like lawyers who are seeking to build authority it is one of the most powerful law firm marketing strategies available. But it is a way to develop quality backlinks for any content marketers or small business owner wanting to build their visibility and trust.
It also permits you to build links with editors and journalists that can lead to greater online authority later. A quote from a journalist will not always result in a backlink, but you will frequently be quoted and the result can be SEO gold either way.
John Bowie is LawFuel publisher and has over 20 years’ experience in assisting law firms to boost their online SEO and legal marketing efforts through LawFuel. He may be contacted at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.