The Ultimate Guide To Help A Reporter Out

by Jason Smit

Are you looking to build links and get press exposure by using Help A Reporter Out (HARO)? 

This guide contains our best-kept secrets to landing maximum press exposure and links in major global media using HARO. 

Buckle-up, let's jump in.

Help A Reporter Out

How HARO Works

Help A Reporter Out is used by journalists from some of the biggest media names in the world - Forbes, Huff Post, Healthline, Business Insider, Associated Press - to name a few.

Getting a link in this caliber of publication could take your website to the next level.

So joining the HARO network makes a whole lot of sense.

And it’s really easy to do. 

On the HARO website, click on I’M A SOURCE, and read through the guidelines. Then click on “Sign Up” at the top-right hand corner of the page, and fill in the required details. 

An email will be sent to your inbox to confirm your email address. Click on the link and you’re ready to start receiving your three HARO emails a day - morning, noon, and late afternoon, Monday to Friday.

help a reporter out

The HARO Challenge

The challenge that a source faces is taking time out of a busy workday, three times a day, to scan through the list of topics, select the relevant ones, and craft on-point, customized pitches.

As you can imagine this is very time-consuming!

Moreover, the speed and relevancy of a pitch are critical. Journalists can receive hundreds of pitches per request, so getting a great pitch submitted within a few hours of receiving a HARO request is vital.

This is where agencies like Contentellect come in. 

10x’ing Your HARO Chances

Contentellect has a hand-selected team of HARO ghostwriters who pitches on behalf of businesses. Our writers are trained in finding creative angles and pitching fine-tuned insights to journalists. Each client has a dedicated HARO ghostwriter whose priority is to read HARO notifications, find the most relevant topics, and pitch quickly and smartly. See our Haro link building service or read our case study on how we use Haro to build DR90+ links.

7 HARO Best Practices 

Here are 7 best practices that we’ve distilled from our many years of helping businesses capitalize on the opportunities presented by HARO.

Personalize Each Email 

If a brief contains a journalist’s name, use it when addressing your pitch email. A journalist is less likely to read beyond the opening greeting of a pitch if it feels like a “blanket response”. Personalizing each email makes the journalist feel as if a source has taken the time and effort to read the full brief - which they took the time and effort to put together. 


Write Compelling Responses 

Journalists don’t want rehashed information. They have the internet too and are masters of research. The reason they use HARO is to tap into a global pool of industry experts, who can deliver fresh, relevant, and timely information - deadlines are tight, and they don’t have time to wait.

Be Direct And Don’t Waffle 

Answer a journalist’s questions directly and without any fluff. With possibly hundreds of pitches hitting their inboxes in an hour, a bulky email with pretty but pointless content will likely be skipped over. Be direct.

Offer Additional Information 

The rule of thumb for any business trying to achieve media exposure is to be available and willing to help with more information. End an email by saying something along the lines of “please shout if you need any more info”. That leaves the door open for the journalist to reach out to a source again in the future.


Say Thank You 

It’s common courtesy in life and its common courtesy in media etiquette. If a journalist responds to a pitch, ALWAYS reply with a quick note of thanks. This is vital in building a relationship with that journalist. 

Relationships Are Gold 

The better a source-journalist relationship, the more chance of that source being approached again, and regularly. If a journalist asks for more information - deliver it as quickly as possible. If a journalist replies saying he/she won’t be using a pitch in that particular article - respond and say “Thank you for the opportunity. If you ever need info on XYZ, please drop me a mail”. Keep the door of communication open, and take EVERY reasonable opportunity to connect with a journalist and build a relationship.

Boost The Journalist 

When a source has been quoted or received a backlink in an article, share the article link on social media, relevant blogs, newsletters, etc. This will help to increase the journalist’s exposure to a wider readership, thereby deepening the relationship between journalist and source. 

Smart Help A Reporter Out Hacks 

Templates Save Time

When sending multiple pitches, three times every day, creating a basic template that just needs to be tweaked for customization to each topic is both practical and time-saving.

Include Relevant Experience 

A source must be seen to be an expert from the outset. So briefly include a sentence in the opening paragraph of a pitch that clarifies your authority in the field. 

Set Up Google Alerts 

As much as we’d like them to, journalists don’t always tell us if and when a quote or insight is featured. It is therefore very useful to set up a Google alert to pick up any mentions of the source or his/her company. 

Don’t send attachments 

HARO is configured to remove attachments from all pitches. If an image or headshot is required, rather send a link to DropBox, Google Drive, or WeTransfer.

Pro HARO Advice

Advice From A Journalist 

Working for a daily news publication, my deadlines are very tight - I generally have to get between five and eight articles out per day. So I don’t have time to sift through essays from potential sources. Keep the information directly related to the questions asked - these briefs are the blueprints for each article. Keep pitches concise, and try to share unique points of view that add value and power to an article.

Advice From A Source 

I’ve been using HARO for almost a year now. I tried doing it on my own for a couple of weeks, then getting one of my staff members to do it. But everyone is, rightfully, busy with their own work. And putting HARO pitches together concisely and thoughtfully takes a lot of time. When we handed it over to Contentellect, I couldn’t believe the difference. They did in a week what my team couldn’t manage to do in three. And because they helped me to set up an email address specifically for HARO, all the emails go there - and I can access the mailbox to see what pitches are being sent.

HARO Costs

HARO works on a freemium model. This means there’s a free service, as well as various paid-for subscription packages. The features depend on the package.

  • Free: Media opportunities are delivered to a source’s inbox. 
  • Standard - $19/month: One profile allowed, one keyword tracked, and online search.
  • Advanced - $49/month: Three profiles allowed, three keywords tracked, and alerts received before lower tiers. 
  • Premium - $149/month: Unlimited profiles and keywords allowed, phone and email support. 

Final HARO Thoughts

Every business is - or should be - on the lookout for new ways to grow its search engine presence and brand exposure.

HARO is an innovative link building strategy that empowers qualified and experienced professionals and business spokespeople to connect with journalists from a plethora of media and publishing houses. 

With a free option, it is accessible to entrepreneurs and small businesses that don’t have large budgets to work with. But it also caters to more established enterprises that want to build credibility and thought-leadership positions.

Once you master Haro, make sure to check out Haro alternatives for additional exposure.

Jason Smit

Jason Smit is the CEO of Contentellect and believes that marketing success lies at the intersection of great content and quality links. With 15 years spent in agency environments, including Saatchi & Saatchi, Publicis Media and Performics, his experience is distilled into Contentellect's service offering. He holds a B.Com Marketing from the University of Cape Town and a PGDip. in Entrepreneurship.

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