Media coverage is my all time favorite way to market my businesses. It’s free and gives my work huge exposure. But you can send press release after press release and not have a single interview, which ultimately feels like a waste of time. My solution has been to use a free service called Help a Reporter Out (or HARO) that media sources use when they need expert information. Through HARO sources I’ve been interviewed for Redbook, Women’s World, Today’s Parent and a host of radio shows, blogs and podcasts.
The HARO report sends three emails a day loaded with requests for people to interview for articles, radio and TV shows. Each request for information indicates what is needed and how to reply. However, you can’t just send an email saying, “I can tell you about that,” in response to media requests. You need to read the request and respond with what the media source needs. I use the HARO report to find guests for the Work-At-Home Success podcast and I’m often surprised at how poorly some people respond. I give specific details on what I need to consider someone for the show and many reply without giving me what I asked. Because I get so many responses, I delete the replies that don’t take the time to deliver what I asked. You don’t want to end up deleted because you failed to impress the media outlet. Here are tips to increase the odds your pitch gets read when responding to HARO requests.
1) Read the request thoroughly and make sure you fit the requirements. While it might be alright if you don’t fit exactly, if the request asks for New York residents only and you live in California, it’s probably a waste of time to respond.
2) Use HARO and the topic request in the subject line. For example, if the the query says, “Looking for Single Dads with Teenage Children” type “Haro: Looking for Single Dads with Teenage Children”. I do this because sources might be sending out multiple story requests and this way they know exactly what I’m responding to.
3) Use the first line of your email to let the recipient know why you’re writing and where you found the query. “I’m responding to a HARO request about single dads with teenage children.”
4) In the first paragraph, also indicate why you’re a good resource for the topic. If you’re responding to a professional inquiry, toot your horn. I let people know that I’ve written a book and the other media outlets I’ve been featured in. In the case of the single dad example, share how long you’ve been a single dad and how many kids you have. If you belong to any single parent support groups or have been a source about single parenting, include that as well.
5) Add something that shows you know the topic and slant the source is looking for. Most HARO requests give information about what the article or show is about. For example, instead of simply saying it wants single dads of teens, the request might indicate it’s working on a story on how single dads are coping with media influence on kids. In this example, include a short blurb about your experience in raising kids while competing with media influences. If the request says it’s looking for tips, then list a few tips.
6) Give a link to your media kit if you have one online and information on how to get in touch with you. Make sure it’s easy for people to contact you.
7) End with your signature line; your name and website if applicable.
I have a template with my intro, contact and signature line already inserted. Then I tweak it and add the information related to the request for each individual request. The example below was a request for a work-at-home expert to provide tips on how to work from home and be productive.
Leslie Truex is an ideaphoric writer, speaker, entrepreneur, social worker and mom trying to do it all from the comfort of her home. Since 1998, she's been helping others create careers they love by providing work-at-home information and resources through Work-At-Home Success.
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