Publicity in the form of links to your website, your course, your product, or your book is key for building your reputation as an expert in your field and growing your audience.
But how do you get publicity and media mentions?
How to Get Free Publicity
You can write guest blogs and articles for influential publications in your field and for bigger sites like Huffington Post or Fast Company.
By doing so, you’ll be able to share your expertise with a valuable article that interests the host site’s readers and encourages them to check out your work in more detail.
But it can take a lot of time and energy to come up with topics and pitch them to relevant sites, and often you won’t start to see results for several months as the host sites work through their editorial calendars.
Writing guest blog posts is a great strategy to get publicity and increase your search engine rankings, but you can get PR a whole lot faster using HARO to connect directly with journalists, bloggers, and reporters who are looking to publish a story within a week or less.
How to Use HARO
You can get more targeted, faster publicity mentions by using a wonderful tool called HARO.
What Is HARO?
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It’s a free online service meant to connect journalists with experts who can help them support the stories they’re working on.
The concept is pretty simple: you sign up as a source, then receive 3 sets of emails each day with queries from reporters working on stories. If one of the stories matches up with your area of expertise, you send in a pitch responding to the query.
If the reporter chooses to use your pitch, they’ll either add it to their story straight from what you sent or follow up with you to get more information or an interview.
How Do I Use HARO?
Getting started on HARO is fast and easy!
Then you’ll select the topics that best match your interest and expertise. You can receive emails targeted to health and wellness, education, lifestyle, business and finance, and more.
Every day, you’ll get emails in the morning, early afternoon, and evening featuring queries from reporters.
Some recent topics include:
- A millennial’s guide to your first retirement account (to be published on Forbes.com)
- Animals with super senses (National Geographic Kids)
- Foods that relieve stress (Long Island Pulse Magazine)
- Medicinal properties of beer (Healthline.com)
- Lawyers over 60 (Capterra)
- Best marketing tactics you’ve used (SpinSucks.com)
As you can see, there’s a lot of different topics covered for a huge range of media outlets!
If you go through all three HARO emails every day, you could easily send out 3-5 pitches a day on a topic directly relating to your book or area of expertise. That’s an awful lot of chances to get your name mentioned in some fairly major publications.
Why Should I Use HARO?
If you want to build a sustainable career based around your area of expertise, you need to make sure that people know you’re an expert.
That means getting the word out that you’re knowledgeable on a topic and gaining industry recognition for your skills and insights.
You can’t do this with just a single book and a few blog posts on your own site. You need other people to quote you as an authority in a wide range of publications.
Being quoted or linked in a variety of publications also means that a broad range of people will see your name and a link to your website or Amazon book page. Each of those people could potentially be intrigued by what you shared in the article, click on the link, and become a new fan—and customer!
HARO is a free, simple way to expand your presence online and become widely considered an expert in your field.
As you send out pitches, you can develop relationships with writers who need a solid list of experts to call on for future articles. Eventually, you may not even have to send as many pitches—writers will come to you because they know you’re an authority they can trust!
Sending out just 3-5 pitches every day can exponentially boost your online profile and help you get more recognition for your books, courses, and other products and services. All it takes is a little bit of time and an understanding of what journalists want to see in a pitch.
Let’s look at exactly that—how to craft a winning HARO pitch.
Tips for Getting More Media Mentions
You can maximize your chances of getting a great media mention from a HARO pitch by providing the reporter with exactly what they need for their article.
1. Read the Query Carefully
Every article has different requirements, and so every query on HARO is different.
Be sure to read the query carefully to ensure that you know what the reporter is looking for—and that you can offer exactly that!
There’s a space in the query to describe the kind of expert source the reporter is looking for; be sure to read this and stick to the guidelines.
For example, although you might have grown up surrounded by cats and dogs, you won’t be able to successfully pitch a reporter who’s looking specifically for an experienced, licensed veterinarian.
In fact, that reporter might get annoyed that you’ve cluttered up his or her inbox by not reading their requirements. And that’s particularly bad because most freelance writers work on a variety of topics, for a variety of publications. You never know if the reporter you annoyed today might be working on an article that you’d be a perfect fit for tomorrow….!
2. Offer Specific, Actionable Insights
When responding to a query, keep the reporter’s preferences and requirements in mind, but try to always offer specific, actionable insights based on the query.
Some queries ask for a certain wordcount in pitches (usually 500 words or less), while others ask you to submit a bullet-point list of ideas or responses.
Always tailor your response to the request and then offer the most valuable, specific insights you can.
This isn’t the time to be vague!
Reporters are very busy people and have strict deadlines to meet. If they have to email you back to get more details about your pitch, you’ll probably never hear from them again.
In contrast, if you give them all the information they need up front, you’re likely to have your pitch used in an article.
“Hi! I read your HARO query about the challenges single mothers face in the workforce and wanted to reach out. I’m a single mom as well as a professional paralegal and I’d be happy to answer any of your questions.”
“Hi! I read your HARO query about the challenges single mothers face in the workforce and wanted to reach out. I’m a single mom as well as a professional paralegal, and I wrote the bestselling book How to Juggle Better: A Guide for Working Moms of Toddlers.
The top three challenges single moms face are:
- Balancing work responsibilities, home life and chores, and having time for themselves
- Dealing with unexpected changes (a sick kid, an absent babysitter, a sudden deadline at work)
- Not having enough support (both at work and at home)
Two of these three challenges can be dealt with through really thorough planning—you can use calendar hacks and other tricks to build personal time into your schedule and to develop a cushion to deal with the unexpected. Not having support is a bigger challenge that requires developing a strong community that you can call on when you need them.
I’d be happy to discuss these challenges with you in more detail! Looking forward to reading the article.”
3. Be Detailed—But Not Too Wordy
Freelance writers and reporters often have strict word counts they have to meet for their articles. Most blogs, magazines, and newspapers pay by the word, and print publications only have so much space available. That means that they’re paying close attention to how much is being written.
And that means that reporters aren’t likely to use your 3,000-word magnum opus on the topic of tropical fish care.
Save that for a guest blog post!
When you’re doing HARO pitches, remember that efficient is effective. If you can sum up your response to the reporter’s query in 500 words or less—preferably 350 or less—you’re much more likely to get a media mention.
That’s because pitches of about 350-500 words that include solid, actionable information can be copy-pasted straight into the reporter’s final piece. You’re saving them a lot of time and energy on interviews, distilling your thoughts, and so on.
4. Be Quotable
Reporters are always looking for a great soundbite that can be used as a pull quote—a phrase that can be “pulled out” from the main body of the article and highlighted in larger type.
By providing great quotes, you’re upping your chances of getting that “star” placement in the article—and therefore, upping your chances of having people pay attention to what you’re saying and remember your name!
Always try to include one great “soundbite” quote in every pitch…something that’s pithy, easy to remember, and strikes at the heart of the topic you’re discussing.
Perfect pull quotes include:
- “Picking what’s next doesn’t necessarily mean picking what you’ll work on forever.” —Nick Loper
- “If you write what a producer is looking for, it’s a much easier battle than writing the script you want and trying to find a producer.” –Ashley Scott Meyer
- “In order to be successful, you need a consistent commitment to doing the things necessary in order to succeed. Doing something you’re passionate about will make that commitment effortless.” –Farnoosh Brock
- “While social media is certainly valuable, you need to think less about the technology and more about the psychology.” –Jonah Berger
See how these soundbites entice you to want to read more, to get deeper into the article that might have produced them? They encapsulate a point and do it in a way that pulls you in and makes you want to know more.
Include one or two of these in every pitch and you’ll soon see your media mentions—and online traction!—start to soar.
5. Give a Variety of Links—But Not Too Many
When putting together your pitch, be sure to link to valuable resources or articles that help make your point—particularly resources on your own website.
Offer a brief explanation of a key topic, then include a link to an in-depth article you’ve written that explains it in more detail, or to your book on the subject.
But be sure not to make your pitch all links, all the time! It should be independent, valuable, original content, not just a mass of links.
A good rule of thumb is that you can include 1-2 links per 350 words in your pitch, no more. And those links have to be very relevant—it’s better to have only one link (to your website or book, included in your bio) rather than links that don’t add value to the pitch.
6. Explain Your Credentials
Always explain what makes you qualified to answer the reporter’s question. Give them some idea of your background—Do you have a degree in the field? Have you been working in the industry for some time?—and explain how you’re uniquely suited to provide insight on the topic.
For instance, if you’re responding to a pitch about animals with super-senses, you can mention that you’ve been a veterinarian for 15 years and have treated a number of bloodhounds. You can also link to your website and your book about how to work with hunting dogs to further establish your expertise.
It’s a good idea to create a Google Doc or a page on your website that includes a brief bio and a headshot for the reporter to use. HARO doesn’t support sending image attachments, so linking to a page with your media kit is the best way to go.
Sample HARO Response Pitch
So now that we’ve looked at ways to catch a reporter’s eye and get more media mentions through HARO pitches, let’s check out a great response pitch!
Here’s the query:
Name: Joe Reporter
Email: [email protected]
Media Outlet: Best Life
Deadline: 1:00 PM EST – 21 September
Query: I need to talk to some folks who can help our readers be better
conversationalists. Etiquette experts would be great!
Requirements: Etiquette experts Personal branders Life/social coaches
And here’s a great response:
I saw your query on HARO looking for experts to help your readers become better conversationalists and wanted to reach out. I’m a social coach and manners expert who’s been helping clients be their best selves for more than 12 years; I specialize in helping people improve their communication skills and stay polite and sane in our crazy modern world. In fact, I’ve even written a book about it, How To Survive Dinner Party Conversation.
It can seem like the art of conversation is dying out, especially in an age of tweets and texts and 140-character snippets. Our attention spans are getting smaller and we’re all more interested in our phones than the people we’re with. But face-to-face (or on-the-phone) conversation is still important for both work and life. After all, would you want to hire someone who can’t get out three coherent words in a row? Would you go on a date with someone who couldn’t keep up a conversation?
Here’s three easy ways your readers can improve their conversation skills today:
- Make gentle, but direct eye contact: Don’t stare unnervingly at someone, but look casually at their face instead of at your phone or over their shoulder.
- Repeat back what someone says, then ask them an open-ended (not yes/no) question: “Oh, so you went to Ibiza on holiday? What was your favorite thing you did there?”
- Don’t talk about the weather. This is almost universally a sign of conversational desperation. If you’re really that strapped for a topic, it’s probably time to close the conversation and move on. For tips on politely closing a conversation that’s stalled out, check out this article: [link]
I’d be delighted to talk with you more about making great conversation. You can reach me at [email protected]. You can see my bio and a headshot at [link] and get some conversation topics on my website at [link].
Looking forward to the article!
All that was less than 250 words, excluding the author’s bio—and just 325 words with it. There’s tips, tricks, and a few quotable snippets that make it easy for the reporter to not only say “yes” to this pitch, but also to want to reach out for more in-depth information and probably feature Jane within the article, along with linking to her book and website.
Want to apply this winning formula to your own pitches? Just fill out this Mad Libs-style template!
HARO Response Template
Hi, [reporter’s name],
I saw your query on HARO looking for experts on [query topic]. I’m a [your profession or area of expertise]; I specialize in [what you do that specifically relates to this query]. In fact, I’ve even written a book about it, [title of your book with link to Amazon page].
[paragraph introducing your insights and including a few potential pull quotes]
Here’s three easy ways to [the topic of the query and your response]:
- Thing 1
- Thing 2
- Thing 3
I’d be delighted to talk with you more about [topic of the query]. You can reach me at . You can see my bio and a headshot at [link] and get some more insight into [topic] on my website at [link].
Looking forward to the article!
Getting strategic media mentions and links isn’t hard when you write targeted pitches responding to the huge volume of requests that come through the HARO service each and every day.
Spend just an hour a day sending out pitches and you’ll see results before you know it!
For more ways to boost your online profile, read on:
- How to Write an Outreach Email (plus a bonus email template)
- 13 Sites to Publicize, Promote and Market Your Book With Little or No Marketing Budget
- 5 Book Marketing Ideas That Helped Me Go from 0 to International Best Seller in 5 Countries