If you’re a small business owner that’s actively looking for more publicity, there’s a tool that could easily double your efforts, and it’s called HARO. HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out” and it serves as the best way to get the media’s attention and increase traffic to your website.
Well, it’s actually pretty simple! Help a Reporter Out exists to fulfill the purpose suggested by its namesake - the primary goal is to connect reporters with expert sources. If you’re willing to serve as that expert source, reporters are often willing to help you out in return.
Two major benefits are offered to those who participate as HARO sources. They are:
1. Free Exposure
2. High Quality Backlinks
The combination of these two benefits forms a powerful foundation for both SEO and public relations.
But before we get carried away with the benefits, let’s take a step back and talk about how HARO works. What does being an expert source entail?
What Does a HARO Source Do?
Finding expert sources can be a difficult task for reporters. The demand for consumable articles, TV broadcasts, and other content is high, and it can be hard for content creators to keep up when they have to take the time to find sources that can back them up.
HARO was created for this purpose.
Help a Reporter Out is an email digest. By signing up to receive it, you’re agreeing to receive at least 3 emails per day that contain long lists of “queries” that reporters have submitted.
These queries could be specific to your industry (or someone else’s industry) or they could be written more for the general public.
They could look something like this:
- Looking for Digital Marketer for Article About HARO
- What are the Best Hair Salons in NYC?
- Realtor to Comment on New Construction
...or they could be completely different. You never know what you’ll get in a HARO email as it depends solely on the articles that reporters are writing that day. In some cases, you might be an expert on many of the topics that are being discussed. On other days, you might not have anything to contribute.
If you take a moment to think of a major publication in almost any niche, you can assume that they use HARO to find their sources. Some of the publications that rely on HARO are: The New York Times, FOX News, Bloomberg, Forbes, Business News Daily, Reader’s Digest, and more.
Why Does HARO Matter to Small Business Owners?
The reason that HARO matters to small business owners is due to the amazing benefits that it offers.
If you’re familiar with the importance of search engine optimization (SEO) at all, then you’ve probably come across the term “backlinks”. A backlink exists when one site links over to another. In SEO, backlinks are one of the most important things that your website can have – they indicate to search engines that your site is trustworthy.
Being proven as trustworthy is so important that it can actually help your website to get found on Google, Bing, and the other major search platforms.
Why is this relevant to HARO?
Because the most important kinds of backlinks are high quality and relevant to your niche.
Think about it:
There are few backlinks better than those that come from major publications who write about your industry.
Usually, when a publication utilizing HARO makes use of your comment for an article, they add a link back to your site in their article. At times, they may not, but this is rare.
The other benefit that HARO offers is much more straightforward. It never hurts to get your company name out in front of an audience! HARO publications are always within the top 1 million websites in the world, meaning that each one is highly trafficked every month.
Imagine the benefits offered by getting in front of this many people who aren’t yet familiar with your brand!
Crafting the Perfect Query Response
If you’re eager to get started with HARO, then the first thing you’ll need to do (after subscribing to the email digest) is write your first pitch.
A great HARO Pitch:
· Conveys Expertise
· Has a Niche Focus
· Includes Quotable Snippets
· Has Your Website URL
· Provides Your Contact Information
By optimizing your pitch to include each of these elements, you’ll be well on your way to getting featured.
Conveying your credibility and expertise on a subject is, quite possibly, the most important part of your pitch. If a reporter’s going to use your quote, they have to first believe that you’re an expert in the subject matter.
As a side note, it’s often best to answer queries that relate directly to a niche focus. A client of mine called The Duplex Doctors decided to focus on a niche in their real estate practice. Because of this, they are almost sure to be quoted by reporters writing about duplexes. After all, there’s no better expert on the subject matter than a specialist!
However, if we had tried to win over backlinks from anyone writing about the broader topic of real estate, we would have faced much more competition. There are lots of real estate agents, but only a few can be considered as duplex specialists!
What’s the niche within your industry that you can optimize for?
After you’ve conveyed expertise, move on into writing quotable snippets. Even if you have all of the best information, it’s important to ensure that you’ve formatted all of it correctly.
Your pitch should be written with the assumption that the reporter will only utilize a small piece of it. Complete thoughts should be consumable as bite-sized pieces.
Finally, ensure that you include your contact information and website URL. Contact information is necessary so that the reporter can follow up and your URL ensures that you get credit for your comments.
After all, expertise always deserves recognition!
Eric Johnson is a Content Creator & Video Specialist for FeedbackWrench – a web design, SEO and marketing-oriented company that works to develop and implement digital marketing strategies for small business clients.