HARO – “Help a Reporter Out” – is a free service that links journalists with sources. It’s a helpful resource for authors looking for book publicity. (That’s a portion of a typical HARO e-mail message on the right.)
HARO’s publisher batches source requests from journalists and sends them to subscribers via e-mail three times a day. The queries are grouped by categories that include biotech and healthcare, education, general, lifestyle and fitness, and several others. The query titles are listed at the top of each HARO e-mail; click on the one that interests you and you’ll jump down to the full query.
All replies to queries go through HARO’s internal system rather than to a reporter’s e-mail address, which isn’t provided.
Don’t make these 3 mistakes
As someone who uses HARO to find sources on a regular basis, I’m sharing here the six elements I look for in a HARO response to help me decide if a source is a good fit for my article. Before I do that, though, I want to make sure you don’t use these three surprisingly common (and inappropriate) responses. They will guarantee that you won’t be interviewed or mentioned:
- “You should call me. I know a lot about this.”
- “I saw your HARO ad. If you’re ever looking for a source about (insert random topic unrelated to query here), call me.”
- “Read the article at this link for my opinion about this. Feel free to use anything from my article in yours.”
Respond with this information
Here are the six elements you do want to include in your response:
- The title of the “query” you’re responding to in your e-mail subject line. Every query has a title – for example, “Cheap, healthy holiday fare” or “How to keep employee morale up.” Copying and pasting the query title into the subject line of your message helps the busy journalist organize and track responses.
- Your credentials. What makes you qualified to contribute to this article or segment? Why should the reporter interview you? In addition to summarizing your relevant expertise in one or two sentences, include a link to your bio on your website.
- One or two sentences to offer your perspective. Maybe it’s your opinion, something counter-intuitive, or information that validates the article or segment premise. Try to offer a few thoughts that the journalist won’t get from the many others who are responding. Be as specific as possible.
- Tips or advice when appropriate. If the journalist seeks an expert and there’s enough information in the request to offer tips, use bullets to present three or four.
- Brief anecdote when requested. Sometimes, reporters are looking for anecdotes, not advice from experts. If you’ve got one to share, keep it brief and to the point.
- Contact information. This one is so obvious that it’s often overlooked. Make sure you include your full signature with name, e-mail, telephone number, URL, and book title.
Finally, don’t include attachments. While HARO responders can attach files to their e-mail responses, HARO doesn’t pass those attachments along in the e-mail responses sent to journalists. (Odd, isn’t it?) If it’s important to include the information, copy and paste it into the message.
What’s your best tip for making sure your HARO response gets you and your book included in an article, segment, or blog post?