Ultimate Guide: How to Use HARO

Joan Alavedra - October 4th, 2021
Ultimate Guide: How to Use HARO

As a writer, you might be finding it difficult to generate leads or stories that can boost your viewership either on your website or for the company that hired you. Today, there are many ways to find leading stories for your website. Knowing a place to go when you need stories can be resourceful in every writer’s career. HARO is an online platform that helps writers like you. This is a guide on what HARO is and how you can use it effectively.

What is HARO?

HARO is an abbreviated word that stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is an online service used by journalists to gather feedback about a particular subject. HARO has a strong database that contains upcoming stories that can easily make the headlines when utilized properly. It is reliable and popular to the extent that journalists from large media outlets like New York Times and Forbes use it.

Haro has more than a million sources with thousands of journalists and bloggers within its database. If you are a journalist or blogger looking for good stories, you can easily get them on the platform.

How does HARO work?

First, a query is submitted by either a journalist or a blogger. The journalist or person submitting the query must meet certain requirements before editing anything on the platform. Once the query is submitted, it is submitted to more than 500,000 sources across the platform.

Haro emails this information in 3 daily messages, Monday – Friday. The stories contain relevant information gathered by experts around the world.

Why should HARO be part of your marketing strategy?

What most people know is that HARO is used to find sources for their various stories. But what they don’t know is that it can be included in your marketing strategy to get more views on your content. One way HARO can be included in a marketing strategy is through SEO.

Search Engine Optimization is like finding what your target audience is searching for and providing information based on it. SEO is mostly based on keywords used by the target audience. So when you are writing a blog post, you write it based on the keywords search by your target audience. Traditional blogging isn’t enough anymore, you have to establish your brand through media or public relations and HARO is a simple way to accomplish that.

You might be wondering how HARO can help in this situation?

HARO, containing information from many sources, can be used to generate a lot of views from the links available on the platform. All you have to do is reply to the requests related to your niche and allow the professionals to work for you. You will eventually be mentioned in a few blog posts with their backlinks from high-traffic sites.

How to Get Started Using HARO (Help a Reporter Out)

Step 1: Sign Up for HARO

Let’s get you set up to get media coverage or to start your link building journey!

To finalize the creation of your account, once you've filled out our signup form, make sure you are not a robot and agree to our terms & conditions by clicking on the checkbox. Then you will receive an email confirmation to finalize the signup process.

Click the verification link in the email sent to you by HARO to activate your account.

Your account has been set up! Now, to get started with your newly created plan, you need to set up your profile to really kickstart the business.

Step 2: Set Up Your Profile

Under the HARO preferences option, you will be able to select specific fields of interest when it comes to the type of media coverage in which you choose to participate in. Also, there is a master list where queries may be shared regardless of what your selected field of expertise is.

Insightful Note: If you’re an agency or broad entrepreneur, we recommend you to subscribe to Master HARO.

Trying to answer queries can be difficult because there are many queries on the platform. Before you consider choosing a pitch to answer to, you need to ensure you understand what it is about and how you can answer it.

If it is within your domain, you can take your time to answer it accordingly. Keep your answers short and concise but rich in information. There is no guarantee that your answers will be seen but always hope for the best.

Insightful Note: If you continue to spend time on pitching, you will eventually find a query that is perfect for you.

Step 3: Start Responding to Queries

There are various ways of responding to a query posed by a journalist.

  • One way is by the use of email. This is where you submit your answer using the email of the journalist. The email is mostly anonymous, so you cannot identify who you are writing to.
  • Another method is through the HARO dashboard. Submitting good pitches(answers to queries) is the best way to make a name on the platform.

If there's a topic you know about, you can read carefully through all of the query guidelines and instructions to make sure your metrics are aligned.

For journalists, the most important thing you can start with is to ensure they are covering topics that interest their readership. What is it about your products or services that will be of benefit to that specific website's readers? Polish your pitch so that it resonates with them - do this by making sure your information is easily understood and covers everything they need for their story on what you have to offer.

Tips on how to write a successful pitch

HARO is an online service that has become popular because of the praises received from many journalists and bloggers. However, there are others who find it difficult to write a successful pitch on the platform. We are going to take you through a few steps of how you can write a successful pitch.

  • Focus on a subject line

Just like every form of writing, you need to have a piece of writing that focuses on a particular subject line. The subject line you choose determines what your reader’s first impression will be from the get-go. When you are trying to get the attention of busy reporters, you need to do something that is short but catchy. The subject line should be catchy enough to persuade them to read what you have to offer. This is because most reporters have to skim through many subject lines and find one that best fits them. Do not forget to include “HARO” and your publication’s name when you are submitting to a reporter.

A simple format you can use, Topic- Publication Name- HARO.

  • Formulate an exciting greeting

Once you are done deciding what your subject line will be, it is now time to start working on your greeting. You cannot address a recipient without greeting them as a sign of respect. Write the name of the recipient in your greeting. Then you show how excited you are to write to them. Avoid the use of boring words or phrases, and ensure you use organic words. Also, write a warm greeting that is welcoming but also recognizes their sense of urgency.

  • The introduction

After the greetings, you continue with an introduction. The introduction is one of the most important parts of your pitch. It is the part where you are supposed to explain why they should take their time to read your pitch instead of the pitch from others. Start by introducing yourself, including your name and the name of your company. Also, include your experience detailing the companies you have worked for and the number of years you worked there. Add details that show how credible you are and why they should focus on your pitch. If you have worked for big companies, they normally want to know more about you if they don’t know you already.

  • Answering the query

Well, the main reason why you are writing the pitch is to answer the query. You might be writing to impress the recipient. Still, your writing becomes a waste if you don’t answer the question that was initially posed. Answering the query shows the approach you use and your style of writing. When you are answering the query, understand what it is about. If it comes in the form of multiple questions, answer them equally.

Keep your answers short, concise, and avoid explaining too much. It is important to take the query seriously. When responding to client inquiries, generally stick to a maximum of 2-3 paragraphs unless the client requests that you elaborate on a particular topic or query.

Having a nice intro and subject line does not guarantee your writing is accurate. For example, you have a very catchy subject line and introduction, but you did not answer the query. The recipient might end up going for someone who answered the query but had an average query and introduction.

  • Inform them about yourself

This part of the writing is when you have to sell yourself to the recipient. Even though you have already provided some information about yourself and where you work in the introduction, you can go into detail here. This is also the part of the writing where you are trying to show them what you are bringing to the table. Tell them about your accomplishments and show them how professional you are. If you want the recipient to add a link to your website, you can politely ask. If they are willing to help, they will do so accordingly.

Insightful Note: One of the best methods of making sure you’ve been mentioned in a blog post or news article is to sign up for a Google Alert that will send an email notification to your inbox every time someone online mentions your name and what your specialty is within it.

How to Use HARO With HeadcomAI

While taking care of HARO queries it’s a straightforward task, the truth is that receiving at least 3 emails a day to your inbox it’s a stretch. Your inbox is probably cluttered with tons of conversations and tasks and HARO should not be part of the mess.

Using HeadcomAI has two main advantages:

  1. Keeping your opportunities relevant and visible. Organize opportunities by niche and keyword, all together and without getting mixed with other important emails.
  2. Get a dedicated space to spark creativity and writer flow. Because having too many inputs when writing is not efficient and distracting.

Once you sign up, here’s an overview of what you’re going to see next:

As you can see you get into the onboarding process. The platform principles are explained in detail to get your head started as soon as possible.

  1. Settings - The onboarding process helps you create and set up the account.
  2. Keywords - Select and filter queries based on keywords you want to pitch.
  3. Email Generation - How to create the perfect pitch using our AI engine.
  4. Bio - Specific details you want to provide about the business when pitching.

By interesting your relevant keywords you’ll be filtered with the pitching opportunities. For example, in the following screenshot, we chose an exact match for the keyword “healthcare” among all the different categories that exist in HARO.

Out platform automatically includes all the categories available in HARO. There are many cross-opportunities that are not necessary within the tagged category and so we recommend filtering by keyword rather than category.

You are now ready to go! In your inbox, you can spot these opportunities displayed. There are 4 columns here:

  • Received - The time this query was sent.
  • Summary - a summary of the opportunity alongside the category.
  • Deadline - the deadline of the opportunity. Hint: The sooner you pitch it the better.
  • Score - Identify opportunities depending on how relevant they are based on your keywords.

If there is an interesting opportunity you can click on the message and read more details about the publication media, the requirements and the query. To get started select a query you wish to pitch and click on “reply”.

You’ll then access the email editor. This page will help you focus entirely on the pitch and generate beautiful copy for the journalist. From left to right:

  • AI Panel: Here you can generate content for your email. From the introduction to the email body, you’ll be able to curate and come up with creative ways to explain your story thanks to the AI. Once you’ve to find the best copy you can then transfer the content to the Generation Panel.
  • Generation Panel: The place where you can write, copy and modify the email. Save to draft to complete later or send the pitch once ready.
  • Query Panel: The right side provides you with the query context. It’s a great view to revising the publication name, the query, and requirements.

Keep in mind that journalists who write for big publications are often an old hand at putting a spin on stories. This means they know how to play the angles and elicit emotion from their readers. So be genuine with your response and try to provide as much value as you can without overdoing it! In other words, don't be afraid to lay it on a little thick if that's what it takes to get exposure for your brand or personal blog.

Beyond reading our blog, if you really want to understand how to pitch the media, we recommend the following blog posts:

7‌ ‌Things‌ ‌you‌ Need‌ ‌to‌ ‌Know‌ ‌about‌ ‌Outreach‌ ‌Marketing‌

Create your Own PR Strategy

6 Content Strategies to Boost Your Website Ranking

Why Link Building Should be Your Top Priority

How to make sure journalists read your HARO pitch

Writing a good pitch is a priority, but it becomes a waste of time when the recipient does not read your submission. Journalists are recipients who have a busy schedule, so they tend to look out for certain things when going through pitches. Knowing what they prefer to read can make it easier to communicate with them through your pitch.

  • Write your pitch in an easy-to-read format

We have established that the person reading your pitch is busy and time conscious. Knowing this, you should write a pitch that is easy to read and understand to save the recipient time. Avoid using fonts that will only make it difficult for them to read your content. If you are writing to raise some points, it is best to bullet such points for easy identification. Avoid copy and pasting content because journalists want to see how unique you are when writing. Also include the name of the recipient if it is included in the query.

  • Be unique

No one wants to read the same style of writing continuously. Imagine you are a journalist or the recipient reading the pitches of others. How will you feel if you keep reading the same style of writing in all the submissions? I’m guessing you will prefer not to choose any of them. Journalists try to look out for unique styles of writing, so it is encouraged to always be unique in your submissions. Instead of rushing to answer a query, take your time to understand your requirements and produce content that will impress them. That is a good way of getting the attention of your readers.

  • Keep your content short and concise

Having a long pitch does not necessarily mean you have answered the query. Writing a short pitch is recommended to make it easier for the reader. However, when you realize a short pitch will not help, you can go ahead to stretch the pitch a bit but avoid making it too long. When writing the pitch, assume that you have already discussed certain details with the reader and you are just answering the query. This will make it easier for you to write a short pitch. Avoid using fluffy words and choose your words wisely.

  • Make quick decisions

You are not the only one on the HARO platforms. There are other people who are looking to land the same opportunities as you. Even though you are supposed to take your time when answering queries, it is also important you take the opportunities quickly as they appear. HARO opportunities come and disappear quickly. Moving slowly will only result in another person taking your spot. Immediately you see a query you are interested in, start working on how you will answer, and submit your answer. Most queries come with a deadline, so when the deadline passes, you cannot submit anymore.

  • Make your subject line a priority

The subject should be a priority because it is one of the few things the reader looks out for. Instead of letting this get into your head and overthinking, just think of a simple and catchy subject line that can be easily identified. Instead of trying to impress the reader through the subject, a short and easy-to-understand query is recommended. One way of doing this is by presenting your subject line as a summary text of your answer.

Hopefully, the tips provided can help you get more reads on your answered queries. Don’t forget to include your information in the pitch, especially when you want the journalist to reference your reply when they finally post it on their website.

What to expect (and not expect) from HARO

Whenever you are about to use a service, it is important to have an expectation. The expectation prepares you for what is yet to come. If this is your first time using HARO, expect nothing but the best.

One of the things to expect is an increase in traffic for your website. This is dependent on your pitches to queries posted on the site. The more you answer queries, the more your chances of being picked. If you include your details in your pitch, it is likely that the reader will mention it when they post your content.

Another thing to expect is an increase in experience. You might not think about this, but the more you pitch to queries, the more “expert” you become at pitching. Eventually, you will be able to identify what your reader likes or dislikes. Knowing this will allow you to submit acceptable content.

Don’t expect replies from journalists. We have mentioned this a few times, and mentioning it again shows how important it is. Avoid raising expectations for a reply because some journalists or bloggers hardly send replies. They might, however, post your content without your knowledge, attaching your details.

The downsides to HARO

Almost every service has its upsides and downsides. HARO has a few downsides, but they are not as major as you think. They are minor setbacks that can be dealt with when you know what you are doing.

One of the downsides of the HARO is the number of queries available. The platform has become reliable for many journalists. Because of this, there are many queries on the platform, making it difficult to decide which one to answer. However, when you know the niche you are targeting, you can easily deal with it.

Another downside is waiting for a response or backlink to your website. It is advisable to forget about a query once you submit a response. This will make it easier to wait for a response. Always checking whether you will get a response or backlink is quite unbearable. Sometimes you might not even be contacted.

Another thing to take note of is that you might not be contacted at all, even if your submission has been accepted. Sometimes your work has been accepted and published with credits given to you, but you did not receive any notification. You can check for this by using tools to track your online mentions and backlinks. Tools like SEMrush and Google Alerts can be helpful.

HARO Subscriptions & Pricing

HARO (Help a Reporter Out) is a platform that allows journalists to reach out to the public for feedback. It’s free to use, but premium options are available, starting at $19 per month, that allows business owners and entrepreneurs with products or services to pitch their innovations to high-profile bloggers or writers in their industry, building brand recognition and increasing the chance of being featured online.

  • Basic: The basic plan is free and equipped with media opportunities and email support.
  • Standard: It includes everything in the basic plus extra features. For example, you get keyword alerts for one particular keyword. You also get to create a single profile, and text alerts. You also get the search feature which allows you to search for everything on the platform. It costs $19 monthly.
  • Advanced: Costs $45 monthly and is included with everything from the standard plan. You get three keyword alerts, three profiles, and you get alerts when a new opportunity is approved.
  • Premium: $149 monthly. This is the highest plan you can go for and it comes with an unlimited number of keyword alerts. You can also create an unlimited number of profiles and you get phone and email support.

One thing to keep in mind is that if you’re using HeadcomAI, you don’t have to pay for HARO.

Simply put, you can access HeadcomAI for $49 per month, with plans including the option to purchase the service annually or monthly. This means that you don’t have to pay both for HARO and for a PR outreach tool because HeadcomAI offers methods of approaching journalists through an integrated system that deals with HARO requests.

Final Thoughts

HARO is a platform that allows you to connect with some of the most experienced journalists and bloggers on the internet. To be successful on the platform, you have to stay consistent. Always write pitches and respond to one query daily. Doing this continuously will give you the opportunity you deserve. When you submit a pitch, it is important to be patient, especially when you don’t get a reply within a few days.

Sometimes the schedule of the journalists or readers is so tight, and they might have not even gone through the submissions. Getting angry or frustrated will only make waiting worse. But if you want your website to increase its traffic, HARO is a perfect tool for brand exposure and build backlinks to your website.

The best part?

With HeadComAI, you can do all of this and more without paying separately for HARO. To experience how we can boost your brand's presence online, sign up for our free trial today.

Get SEO tips delivered straight to your inbox

Joan Alavedra

Joan Alavedra is a writer on HeadcomAI's content marketing team, based in Paris, France.

Get backlinks and boost your SEO

Write pitches to journalists in seconds and make them stand out with the help of AI

7 days of free trial.