The Complete Guide To Using Help A Reporter Out

One of the easiest and most underutilized ways to get publicity is by using Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a tool that connects news sources (that’s you!) with journalists. HARO is a resource that you can use to immediately get PR for your business on influential media sites ranging from Huffington Post to CNN.

Through a straight-forward, free subscription service, HARO sends you queries from reporters and bloggers, who are looking for sources to share their expertise, top tips and case studies.

Read on for everything you need to know to use HARO to get publicity for your business — starting now!

The Complete Guide to Using Help A Reporter Out


Sign up to get daily PR leads. When you sign up for your free subscription, you immediately start getting “Master” emails from HARO. That means you’ll be getting three emails a day with PR leads broken down by categories like business, lifestyle, technology and healthcare.

You might be tempted to further filter these emails by only checking the categories that apply to your industry, but don’t do it. You’ll end up getting even more daily HARO emails, and you might miss out on the perfect opportunity.

Just the other day, there was an inquiry on the General list for giving back without spending money. If you were only receiving the Business and Finance list, you would have missed an opportunity to tout your business’s social responsibility efforts.


Scan your HARO emails daily. The number one success factor in HARO is catching and responding to a lead quickly, which is why it’s important to make a quick scan of your HARO emails as they hit your inbox. When they come through, scan the index to see if any opportunities look promising.

Here’s a snapshot of the Business and Finance opportunity list in a recent HARO email. When you see the source is anonymous or otherwise kept hidden, it’s nearly always a major media site.

Sample HARO Index

If you aren’t able to look at a HARO email within 12 hours of receiving it, simply delete it and move on. This is not an email you should route to your newsletter folder for later!

Commit to replying to only the best leads. When you start getting your HARO digests, you might feel tempted to reply to the first ones that look like a match. Before you know it, you’ll find another opportunity…and then another…and another…

In other words, there’s no need to waste time on queries that don’t help you spread your core message or promote your products and expertise.  Save yourself the headache and respond only to leads that are aligned with your goals.

Ask yourself, “Is this what I want to be known for?” If the answer is yes, your next step is to consider the outlet.

Research the media outlet. Do a gut-check to make sure the media outlet is one you want to be associated with. If you’re a vegan, and the HARO query is for a Paleo-oriented website, it may be best to move on.

Other things to consider: Is it a mainstream publication? Do your potential customers read or watch it? Does it look credible? Would you geek out if you were able to see yourself in it?


Write a concise email response that precisely follows the requirements of the query. Once you’ve identified an opportunity that’s a slam dunk, take 30 minutes or less to write your pitch. Usually the reporter or blogger will have provided explicit instructions for you to follow. For example, I love this Huffington Post query, which not only tells you what to submit, but what not to do.

Sample HARO Query
If you were pitching this story, you’d model your submission on the stories that came up in your search, which means naming the product, including a description that describes who the product is for and why they’d love it, and linking back to your site.

As an aside, the query also tells you who to send your response to and gives a deadline, but I’m not copying that here, because we’re already past the cut off.

However, not all query writers are as generous in giving guidelines as this HuffingtonPost blogger, in which case, you can modify the following template.

Use this template to write a pitch-perfect reply to a HARO query . . . Tweet It!

Subject Line: {Credential/Title} for {Query Topic}

Hi {First Name},

I’m a {title with link to website} with {experience in subject matter or product line}.

The requirements section of the inquiry is really important here. Highlight how you are specifically qualified for this story. For example, if a reporter specifically asks for a business in New York, give them your neighborhood or address. If they want a life coach, include “certified life coach” in your pitch.

In reference to your query on {subject}, I can {answer query requirements}.

Again, it’s important to follow the query’s requirements exactly. If the blogger says, “I’m looking for easy, actionable tips for women to negotiate the salary they want when being hired.” Provide one to three tips with one to three sentences describing each.

Many times, the blogger or reporter will run exactly what you send in your email reply, so don’t hold your best stuff back!

Would you be interested in talking to me further about {subject}? Please email me or call me at {contact info}.

Always end your email with a call-to action, which could be a question, an offer to provide more information and your contact details.



{Title and Business with Link to Website}

Say a little prayer and move on. This may be the one and only time I tell you not to follow up. With HARO, the reporters get so many responses, that it’s just cruel to follow-up. Either you’ll hear back from the reporter, be quoted in the story or you won’t.

That said…if there’s a media outlet you’ve really got your eye on, and you reply to a query through HARO, you could do the reporter or blogger a favor by Tweeting or otherwise sharing one of their other posts.


Set up a Google alert for your name. Hopefully, you’ll hear back within a few days from a reporter that they would like to talk to you or that your tips will be included in their story. Unfortunately, you won’t always get a heads up!

If you haven’t already, set up a Google alert for your name, and if a reporter forgets to let you know you made it into the story, it will pop up in your inbox. You might also subscribe to their feed, which is a bit more reliable than Google alerts.

Celebrate your placements! Finally, when you do get a media placement through HARO, don’t forget to celebrate! Send the reporter a thank you note, share the post through your blog, email newsletter and social media. Put the masthead up on your website. Throw yourself a little party! You earned it.

Are you ready to be quoted in your dream, can-barely-say-it-aloud, publications? Start today by putting our guide to using HARO to work!

[embed_popupally_pro popup_id=”10″]