Understanding how to harness the power of public relations can be a challenge for any startup founder. But what if there was a way to simplify this process, increasing your brand visibility without breaking the bank? Help a Reporter Out (HARO) might be the answer you’re looking for.
This freemium service connects experts like you with journalists in need of insights, offering an efficient way to gain press coverage. With the right strategy, HARO can be a powerful tool in your PR arsenal. Let’s dive in to learn how you can put HARO to work for your startup.
What Is HARO (Help A Reporter Out?)
HARO, or Help a Reporter Out, is a freemium online service that connects journalists with knowledgeable sources. These sources can include industry experts, professionals in various fields, businesses, and even the general public. The platform operates on a fundamental yet powerful principle:
Journalists need credible insights for their stories, and experts (like startup founders) need exposure, link building, and credibility.
In this exchange, journalists post queries on HARO regarding specific topics. HARO then circulates these queries to registered sources whose expertise aligns with the journalists’ needs. This gives sources, including startups, a chance to respond and potentially feature in articles and reports.
This platform offers a unique advantage to startups. It levels the playing field in the world of media coverage, which has historically favored larger corporations with substantial PR resources.
Unlike HARO, many PR tools are not free. However, HARO also has paid plans that give advanced business features like customizing your profile and keyword alerts.
For startups, HARO presents an opportunity to establish industry authority and secure high-quality backlinks for their clients and their digital presence, all of which are crucial for growth.
By strategically engaging with HARO, startups have a cost-effective and efficient tool to enhance their PR strategy, boost brand visibility, and position themselves as industry thought leaders.
Who Uses HARO
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is used by two main types of users:
1. Journalists/Reporters, Bloggers, And Content Creators
These individuals use HARO to find expert sources for the stories they’re writing. This includes reporters from traditional media outlets, freelance journalists, multiple publications, content creators, and even researchers or book authors seeking expert insights or personal experiences to include in their work.
2. Sources (Experts And PR Professionals)
The ‘sources’ are experts in a certain field or industry, PR professionals, business owners, and startup founders who provide the insights the journalists need. They use HARO to respond to media queries relevant to their expertise or their company’s work, hoping to be quoted or featured in the resulting stories.
This can lead to beneficial outcomes for sources like increased brand visibility, authoritative backlinks for SEO, and networking opportunities with journalists and reporters. It’s a win-win tool that helps journalists find the necessary information while providing experts and organizations with valuable media exposure.
How To Use HARO To Boost Your Startup PR Strategy
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a prime platform that can be leveraged to boost your startup’s PR strategy. It connects journalists with expert sources to meet their reporting needs.
This means you, as a startup, can become a source for reporters, giving you an opportunity to secure valuable press coverage. Here’s top tips on how to use HARO to your advantage:
1. Sign Up And Set Preferences
This step marks your entry into the world of HARO (Help a Reporter Out). Begin by visiting this page on the HARO website and signing up as a ‘source.’ This term refers to experts or people with valuable insights that journalists can use. The sign-up process would require you to fill out a form with basic information about you and your startup.
During the sign-up process, you’ll also be asked to select your areas of expertise or the fields that interest you. This helps HARO tailor the queries you’ll receive. Make sure to select those fields that align well with your startup’s industry, your product or service, and your personal areas of knowledge.
This will ensure that the queries you receive are relevant, increasing the likelihood that you can provide valuable and insightful responses.
Remember, the goal is to position your startup as a valuable source of information. This not only involves knowing your own product or service well but also understanding the broader industry context in which your startup operates. So, take the time to carefully select your preferences during the sign-up process.
2. Set Preferences
Once you’ve signed up as a source on HARO and set your preferences, you’ll start receiving email alerts containing media opportunities, also known as queries. These alerts are sent three times a day—morning, afternoon, and evening.
It’s important to regularly review each HARO query. Each query includes the journalist’s deadline, so promptness is crucial. Journalists often work on tight schedules, and the sooner you respond, the higher the chance your contribution will be considered.
Here’s a simple process to follow:
- Check your emails: Make a habit of checking your emails frequently for HARO alerts. This is essential because the opportunities are time-sensitive.
- Filter relevant queries: Go through the list of queries in each email. Each one will include a brief summary and the outlet that’s asking. Pick out those that are relevant to your startup’s field, industry, or your personal expertise.
- Understand the requirements: Each query will have specific requirements. This could include the type of expert the journalist is looking for, what information they need, and their deadline. Make sure you understand these requirements before responding.
Regularly reviewing and responding to each HARO query increases your chances of being quoted or featured in media stories, which can significantly enhance your startup’s visibility and credibility.
3. Craft Thoughtful Responses
Crafting a thoughtful response to a HARO query is your opportunity to provide valuable insights and catch a journalist’s attention.
Start by understanding the query fully, for example, ensuring you grasp what specific information or insight the journalist needs. Tailor your response to these requirements, being concise, direct, and avoiding jargon.
Prioritize providing substantive and actionable insight or information, demonstrating your expertise in the process. Do not go off topic unless the query asks you to.
To make your response stand out, personalize it by addressing the journalist by name if it’s provided, and include your credentials naturally within the context. Briefly outline your expertise or relevant experience that qualifies you as a credible source on this topic.
Ensure you adhere to any guidelines in the query, such as response length or a specific email subject line. Before hitting send, proofread your response for clarity and accuracy, ensuring it presents you in a professional light. The goal is to provide value to the journalist, positioning yourself or your startup as a go-to resource in your field.
Absolutely, let’s consider a hypothetical example of a journalist’s HARO query and how one might respond to it.
Journalist from TechCrunch: I’m working on a piece about the latest trends in AI (Artificial Intelligence) impacting small businesses. Looking for input from AI experts, startup founders, and business owners who have successfully implemented AI in their operations.
Subject Line: TechCrunch Query – Impact of AI Trends on Small Businesses
Hello [Journalist’s Name],
I hope this email finds you well. I noticed your query on HARO about AI trends impacting small businesses and thought I could offer some valuable insights.
My name is [Your Name], and I’m the co-founder of [Your Startup’s Name], an AI-focused startup that provides [describe your products/services]. Our unique experience has given us first hand insight into the impact of AI on small businesses.
One trend we’ve noticed is the increased use of AI in automating customer service via chatbots. This has not only improved efficiency by handling routine queries, but also allowed businesses to provide 24/7 customer service without additional staffing costs. Another trend is AI-driven analytics, which small businesses are using to gain deeper customer insights and personalize their offerings.
I can provide further details and specific examples if needed. I appreciate your consideration and am open to any additional questions you might have.
[Your Phone Number]
[Link to your website]
This is an example of a thoughtful, direct, and well-crafted response to a HARO query that adheres to the query’s guidelines and is tailored to the journalist’s needs. It’s always important to remember that real-life responses may vary based on the specific query and your expertise.
4. Be Prompt
When responding to HARO queries, it’s crucial to be timely. Journalists often work under tight deadlines, so promptness can significantly increase the chances of your story being selected as a source.
Remember, HARO sends out email alerts and query emails about three times a day, and each query includes a deadline by which responses are needed. Sometimes these deadlines can be within a few hours of receiving the query.
The sooner you can respond after receiving the query, the better. This is why regularly checking your email for HARO alerts throughout the day is important.
However, being timely isn’t just about being quick. It’s also about delivering quality responses within the deadline for all the questions. Your response should be thoughtful, well-written, and directly address the query. Responding quickly with a poorly written or irrelevant response can harm your company and your credibility.
5. Monitor Your Mentions
Once you’ve submitted your responses to HARO queries, it’s important to keep track of any resulting media mentions. Regularly check the outlets that you’ve responded to, or set up a Google Alert for your name and your startup’s name.
When you’re mentioned or quoted, make the most of it. Share the full article or link to the article on your startup’s social media channels, blog, and website for specific questions, to amplify the exposure and underscore your credibility.
6. Build Relationships
Beyond just providing exposure for your startup, HARO also presents an opportunity to follow-up and build lasting relationships with journalists and influencers in your industry.
If a reporter or journalist uses your insights, consider reaching out to them with a simple comment of gratitude. Express your willingness to contribute again in the future or to discuss other topics within your area of expertise. This gesture can help forge a lasting connection and turn one-time opportunities into ongoing collaborations.
By strategically using HARO, you can secure press coverage for your startup that helps build your brand, reach your target audience, and attract investors. Your primary aim should be to help them create and write a compelling story by providing expert insights.
Keep in mind that not every response you write or send will result in a media mention but if you always provide value to journalists consistently, the PR benefits will follow naturally.
How To Set Up HARO Properly
1. Go to the HARO homepage and select the signup button located at the upper right corner (in the red circle).
2. Input your information: provide your first name, last name, email address, country of residence, chosen password, phone number, and the name of your company. And sign up.
3. Once you click sign up, you will be visited with a page notifying you of a confirmation email sent to your inbox.
4. Check your inbox for said email. You’d see something like this. Clicking on this link will activate your account and take you back to the HARO site for you to complete your profile.
5. Complete your profile.
6. Remember to edit and save your preferences. And start giving your pitches to attract journalists and reporters..
6 Benefits Of HARO For Startups
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) offers several benefits for startups looking to boost their visibility and establish credibility in their industry. Here are some key advantages:
1. Earned Media Coverage
Responding to a HARO query can lead to mentions in articles, blogs, reports, and other media, providing significant visibility for your startup. This can help boost your business’ brand awareness and credibility.
2. High-Quality Backlinks
If your insights are used in an online publication, you may also receive a backlink to your website. These backlinks can improve your website’s SEO, potentially increasing organic traffic and enhancing your online presence.
3. Establishing Authority
By providing expert insights on industry-specific topics, your startup can position itself as a thought leader in the field. This can enhance your reputation and credibility as a business owner among potential customers, investors, and peers.
4. Building Relationships
HARO can also help build relationships with journalists and influencers in your industry. Once you’ve provided valuable insights to a top reporter or journalist, they may reach out to you directly for future stories.
5. Cost-Effective PR Strategy
Unlike traditional PR strategies that often require a significant budget, HARO is free to use for sources. This makes it a cost-effective way for startups to gain media exposure.
6. Potential For Viral Exposure
If your insights are picked up by a major publication or a piece of content goes viral, it can lead to a significant boost in exposure and awareness for your startup. This is because reporters are very likely to highlight their source and contact info of their source(s).
While using HARO requires time and effort in crafting responses and searching through queries, the potential benefits for your startup’s PR and marketing strategy can be substantial.
Is HARO For Your Startup
Whether HARO is suitable for your startup depends on a number of factors, mainly centered around your PR goals and resource availability. Here are a few considerations:
1. Industry Relevance
If your startup operates in a niche that is frequently covered by journalists and bloggers, there’s a good chance you will find answers to relevant queries on HARO.
The platform is popular among a wide array of journalists, covering topics from technology to health, business, lifestyle, and more. If your industry or expertise aligns with these topics, HARO can be a valuable resource.
2. Time Investment
Responding to HARO queries takes time. You’ll need to sift through numerous queries each day, decide which ones fit your expertise, and craft thoughtful, comprehensive responses. If your startup can allocate the time and resources for this, HARO can provide a good return on investment.
3. Public Relations Goals
If your startup is looking to increase brand awareness, secure high-quality backlinks for SEO, establish industry authority, or engage in content marketing, then HARO can be a valuable tool. Through HARO, for example, you can connect with journalists and potentially get your startup featured in a blog post, articles, reports, and news.
4. Content Expertise
HARO is about providing value to journalists. If you or your team members can offer expert commentary, unique insights, or compelling stories and anecdotes, you’re more likely to be chosen as a source.
5. Relationship Building
If you’re looking to build long-term relationships with journalists in your field, HARO provides a platform for that initial connection.
If your startup can align with the demands and benefits offered by HARO, it can be an excellent tool to boost your PR strategy. However, it is important to approach it with a clear plan and dedicated resources to make the most of the opportunities it provides.
Harnessing the power of HARO can open doors to fresh opportunities for your startup. By connecting with journalists, providing valuable insights, and boosting your brand’s visibility, you can make a mark in your industry. Remember, patience and persistence are key.
Of course, not every pitch will land, but the ones that do could offer significant benefits. So, take the leap, refine your pitch and your strategy, and start reaping the rewards that HARO can offer your startup. Now, it’s your turn to make the headlines.