How Helping a Reporter Out Can Help Your Business

Here’s why you might want to consider taking advantage of a service that connects journalists with expert sources

How Helping a Reporter Out Can Help Your Business

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill

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As a business owner, you know your stuff. You have to. But are you using that expertise and knowledge to get eyes on your business through HARO? 

If you have no idea what HARO is, you’re not alone. Keep reading. We’re going to cover the basics of this secret weapon and why you should at least be exploring it for your business.

What is HARO?

HARO (Help A Reporter Out) is a free service that connects journalists with topical experts. Every day, journalists and writers are seeking authoritative sources for news and stories. Using HARO, they’re able to get their queries in front of more potential sources so that they can quickly get answers to the questions they have and quotes from those with expertise in the topic they’re covering. 

You might be thinking, “No way do reporters seek out contractors regularly.” You’d be surprised. We receive emails from HARO three times a day, and journalists are always seeking experts and business owners in a variety of areas. 

For example, here are a few screenshots taken from a random HARO email we received. This particular example has queries that would be good for home services businesses like plumbers:

How do you sign up so that you see relevant queries when they come through? It’s easy. Head to helpareporter.com, click “Sign Up,” and fill out the fields. Once you’re signed up, you’ll start receiving daily emails filled with queries on all sorts of topics. 

Queries are broken down by category, and in our experience, most home services queries are under the “General” category. But keep an eye on categories like “Business and Finance” as well, because a query may be about paying for home services or home improvement projects. 

It only takes a few minutes to scan through each email looking for relevant queries, so even if there’s nothing for you on a given day, you didn’t waste a ton of time. 

Why should I use HARO for my business?

You’re an authority in your field. You know things that those without training and experience don’t. So you likely have the answers to the questions people are asking. Reporters don’t want to waste their time with unreliable sources, but simply having the experience and training you have builds immediate trust and makes you an automatic authority on the topic. 

And if a reporter chooses to feature you or quote you in a story, you’re not only providing free education to the reporter and the audience they’re writing for. Nine times out of 10 the reporter will highlight the name, business, and website or contact info of their sources in the story. That means you’ll get your business and name mentioned in more places on the web, plus links back to your website. 

While this may not result in direct business, it can help boost trust with potential clients who see those links and boost your authority with search engines like Google. You can even create a page on your website called “Press” or “We’re Featured Online” and include links to the stories you’re quoted in or that you contributed to. That way, when potential clients are on your website looking for trust signals, they’ll see you’re an expert in your field with a solid reputation. 

How do you figure out if a query is a good fit?

Say you see a query that you think you’d be perfect for. How do you know if it’s really worth your time? 

Start by clicking on the relevant blue link in the email. This will take you down to the portion of the email where the details for that specific query are. You can also get to it by scrolling down past all the blue links.

For example, we clicked on the blue link about environmentally friendly toilet paper and here are the details for the HARO query:

The query details will tell you who you should submit a pitch to, what email you should send it to, when the pitch deadline is, and a description of what they need from you/what they’re looking for. That way, you can decide A.) if you’re a good match for the query and B.) if you have the time to get them the info they need before the deadline.

As you can see in the query above, they’re willing to credit you in their story and link back to your website. That’s definitely worth a pitch if you can make the deadline work.

Tips for submitting pitches

What do you need to remember when submitting a pitch? Do you have to be the best writer in the world to get the reporter’s attention? 

Rest assured, you don’t have to be an excellent writer. You only need to be smart about what you include and when. Make it easy for the reporter to scan their inbox and scan your email. 

For example, include in your email subject line: HARO Query + Title of the Query. The title of the query will be the blue link you clicked on (for example, “Best Environmentally Friendly Toilet Paper”).

Next, we recommend always starting your email by introducing yourself and getting right into trust and authority signals. You might start with: 

“Hi Alte, my name is John Smith, and I’m writing in response to your HARO query: Best Environmentally Friendly Toilet Paper. I’m a master plumber with over 30 years of experience and the owner of Big J’s Plumbing here in San Francisco. Our clients are always looking for ways to improve their plumbing systems and one of the first things we recommend is to swap rolls for something more environmentally (and plumbing) friendly.”

If the HARO query is asking for your answers directly like in the example above (rather than asking you to reach out about possibly setting up a phone or video interview), jump right in with:

“Below you’ll find my answers to your questions, as well as a brief bio and my website URL. If you need anything else from me, please let me know. Hope this helps.”

Then write out each question with your corresponding answer. In this case, you’d write out:

Name of Product/Brand I recommend: [Your answer]

URL where it can be purchased: [Your answer]

Why I recommend this product: [Your answer]

Don’t forget to write a quick bio or how you’d like your answer to be credited on the site. It can be as simple as:

John Smith is a master plumber with decades of industry experience. He’s also the owner of Big J’s Plumbing, San Francisco’s highest-rated plumbing company. Learn more about John and Big J’s Plumbing at [company website].

Hit send and voilà, you’re done. All you have to do now is wait for a response. It may be a while, but most reporters will reach out to you with a link when the story is live so that you can share it.

Give it a try

Look at you! Now you’re showcasing your authority in other places on the web and getting links back to your website, and it only took you a few minutes. And who knows, if the reporter really enjoyed your answers and you were easy to work with, they may even come to you directly the next time they need an expert on the subject. It’s happened for our clients.

If you haven’t given HARO a try yet, sign up. It can be a simple, cost-effective way to build your brand and authority, while helping ensure that the related industry articles and news stories on the web (the ones your potential clients may be reading) are accurate and reliable. It’s a win-win.

About the Authors

Carter Harkins and Taylor Hill are the authors of Blue Collar Proud: 10 Principles for Building a Kickass Business You Love and the owners of Spark Marketer, a "no bull" digital marketing company that’s been getting sh*t done for home service businesses across the nation for a decade. They’re trusted thought leaders in the industries they serve, which is why you’ll find them regularly speaking at service industry trade shows and conferences and writing for trade magazines. Tired of empty promises and ready for focused digital marketing and balls-to-the-wall dedication that gets your business seen? Visit www.sparkmarketer.com.



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