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Free publicity is my all time favorite way to market my businesses. It’s doesn’t cost anything but a few minutes of time, and it gives my business credibility and exposure.
In the past, entrepreneurs were encouraged to send press releases to media to get news coverage. The problem with that is that 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). Through HARO sources I’ve been interviewed for Redbook, Women’s World, Today’s Parent and a host of radio shows, blogs and podcasts.
What is the HARO Report?
The HARO is a service that connects experts to media sources. Magazines, newspapers, blogs, podcasts, television shows and more submit information about their stories and who they’re looking to interview. HARO sends three emails a day loaded with these media requests that you can reply to if you’re a good fit for the media outlet.
How to Get Free Publicity with HARO
Responding to HARO requests correctly is the key to success. 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 success profile and expert tips, and I’m often surprised at how poorly some people respond. I give specific details on what I need to consider someone for the posts 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.
I make time each day to review each of the HARO emails that comes through. Not only do I check on the topic the media outlet wants to cover, but also, it’s requirements and how to reply. 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” into your subject line. 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.