What Is HARO & How Does It Work? The Ultimate Guide

by Jason Smit

HARO is a platform that can offer loads of value to businesses seeking online exposure and backlinks. As a growing business with a small marketing budget, HARO can be an absolute game-changer for building online authority, improving your SEO, and generating more brand awareness.

So what exactly is HARO, and why should my business use it?

These are common questions that we’ll answer in the guide below. Let’s dive in.

What Is HARO?

HARO stands for “Help a Reporter Out.” It’s a platform that connects journalists, reporters, and bloggers with expert sources to gather information for their stories. HARO is also known by another name — expert commentary. Several other platforms of a similar nature are available, each with a slightly different focus but operating under the same principle.

HARO allows journalists to submit queries or requests for sources on various topics. Then, individuals or experts can respond to these queries if they have relevant expertise. If the journalist is intrigued by the response they get from their HARO request, they’ll reference it as a source in their article.

HARO helps reporters find credible and knowledgeable sources quickly. This makes gathering information and quotes for articles, news segments, and other media content easy. In return, it gives businesses and websites a platform to generate quality backlinks and gain exposure.

HARO Help a Reporter Out website

How Does HARO Work?

HARO is pretty straightforward. Here are the basic steps involved in HARO requests and how the platform generally operates:

  1. Sign-up: Journalists and experts sign up for HARO, specifying their interests, areas of expertise, and topics they cover or can provide insight into.
  1. Queries: HARO sends out emails to subscribers with queries from journalists three times a day on weekdays. These queries include details about the topic, the information needed, and the response deadline.
  1. Response: Experts or individuals who can provide valuable information related to the query can respond directly to the journalist via email with their insights, quotes, or information.
  1. Selection: Journalists review the responses and select the most relevant and credible sources for their articles or stories.
  1. Publication: If a journalist chooses a response, the source’s insights might be included in the article, blog post, or media content. The source is usually credited to the publication.
  1. Relationship Building: HARO helps journalists find new sources and experts while allowing experts to gain exposure by being featured in articles or media pieces. So, even after the initial article has been published, brands can get further mentions and links in the future if the journalist they connected with covers their niche regularly.

Is HARO free?

As of right now, yes, it is (keep an eye on this for future updates). This is one of the most compelling reasons to use the platform. Not only does it offer some great opportunities for brands, but it doesn’t have to cost you anything to use.

Successful HARO outreach is time-consuming and requires serious dedication and a deep understanding of the platform’s workings.

While anyone can get backlinks from HARO, these links are generally only scored (with any degree of regularity) by marketers with plenty of experience using the platform.

The Benefits of Using HARO for Your Business

When used correctly, HARO can be an incredibly valuable tool for businesses. Here are some of the main benefits of using HARO:

Quality Backlinks

The primary and most valuable reason for your business to use HARO is link-building.

HARO can help businesses acquire high-quality backlinks from reputable websites. When a journalist or reporter includes your expert insights, comments, or information in their article and credits your business, it often results in a backlink to your website.

These backlinks from authoritative sources can improve your website’s SEO and online visibility.

As a link-building tactic, HARO ticks all of the right boxes. It lets you generate links from reputable sources (news and media websites), and it’s entirely white-hat. Few link-building tactics are as effective at helping smaller businesses and websites gain such high-quality, organic links.

While it can be tricky to manage effective HARO outreach for link-building, HARO outreach services exist to help acquire these links for you. This is a safe and impactful way to boost your website’s SEO.

Increased Exposure

Being featured in articles or media stories through HARO can significantly increase your business’s exposure. Your insights or quotes can reach a broader audience, allowing you to showcase your expertise in your industry or niche.

It’s not just about the SEO effect of backlinks; your mentions from HARO can also drive direct traffic to your website.

The more instances your brand is mentioned online (especially in reputable news publications), the more brand awareness you’ll generate.

Establishing Authority

If your business is quoted in a prominent publication for being an expert within its field, then this can hold significant value for building trust and authority.

HARO backlinks come from the most credible sources, as they’re trusted media publications. This helps your website earn more authority from these backlinks, as opposed to generating links from smaller blogs and unknown websites. This means HARO backlinks can help you generate backlinks that boost the EEAT credibility of your site.

Not only do successful HARO mentions give your website authority in the eyes of search engines, but you’ll also be able to build up authority in the eyes of your customers. This can do big things for growing your business.

Networking Opportunities

Engaging with journalists, reporters, and other experts through HARO can create valuable networking opportunities.

Building relationships with media professionals can lead to future collaborations or further media exposure for your business. This could help you establish link partnerships that offer more value to your website over the long run.

Cost-effective PR

HARO provides a cost-effective way to gain media exposure. Unlike traditional PR methods that might involve significant expenses, HARO allows businesses to connect with journalists and reporters for free, making it a budget-friendly option for publicity.

Not only this, but you can get high-quality digital PR results from using HARO. When successful, HARO PR pitches can get you the kind of media coverage you’d expect to pay hundreds of dollars for.

Content Creation

HARO can also be used as a tool to guide your content creation.

The insights and information provided through HARO queries can also be repurposed for your own content marketing efforts. You can use your contributions as the basis for blog posts, social media content, or newsletters, maximizing the value of your expertise beyond the initial media coverage.

PR and brand awareness via HARO

10 Steps To Get Started With HARO

Using HARO takes plenty of time and effort if you’re going to generate consistent results from it.

However, it’s also a straightforward platform to use. Here are the steps involved to start using HARO:

1. Sign Up

Visit the HARO website and sign up as a source. Provide details, including your name, email, areas of expertise, and industries you can discuss. You’ll start receiving queries from journalists once your account is active.

You must narrow down your interests and make this specific. Otherwise, you’ll be bombarded with irrelevant HARO requests, and you’ll probably miss the ones that matter for your niche.

2. Review Queries

HARO sends out emails with queries from journalists three times a day on weekdays. Check your email inbox regularly for these queries.

Each email will contain specific topics or categories that journalists need sources for. It’s important that you read these emails as they come out, as successful HARO outreach depends on you being timely.

3. Identify Relevant Queries

Review the queries and identify those that align with your expertise or knowledge. Focus on queries where you can provide valuable insights or information.

The more you use HARO, the easier it will be to filter out and identify the queries that matter. Be prepared to go through many HARO queries that don’t apply to you and aren’t worth pitching to.

4. Craft Your Response

When you find a relevant query, carefully craft your response.

Ensure your response is concise, informative, and directly addresses the journalist’s needs. Provide your expertise and any relevant credentials to bolster your response’s credibility.

Remember that many people will be responding to this same query, so you must ensure that your response offers enough value and credibility for the journalist to note it.

5. Submit Your Response

Respond directly to the journalist’s email address provided in the HARO query. Ensure to follow any specific instructions outlined in the query, such as using a particular subject line or response format.

6. Follow-Up (If Necessary)

Sometimes, journalists receive numerous responses, and they might not acknowledge every submission. If you haven’t heard back after a reasonable time, consider a polite follow-up email to reiterate your interest and availability.

7. Track Your Engagements

HARO can get confusing if you use it every day. It’s easy to lose track of which requests you’ve pitched to and which journalists you’ve connected with.

Keep track of the queries you’ve responded to and any interactions with journalists. This helps in evaluating your success rate and adjusting your approach if needed.

8. Be Responsive and Professional

If a journalist contacts you for further information or an interview, be prompt and professional. Provide additional details or schedule interviews as needed.

Remember, journalists are on a tight timeline, so they need your information quickly. They’ll choose a different source for their article if you’re too slow.

9. Evaluate and Refine

After some time using HARO, evaluate the effectiveness of your responses. Identify which queries or approaches yield better results and refine your strategy accordingly.

The thing about HARO is that it takes time to understand the platform and realize what types of responses and pitches are successful. The more you do it, the better you get.

10. Stay Engaged

HARO success comes down to how regularly you use the platform. Don’t be disheartened by rejections, and make sure that you constantly go back and respond to pitches.

Continuously engage with HARO by regularly reviewing queries and responding to relevant ones.

Consistent participation increases your chances of being featured in media stories and establishing yourself as a reliable source.

HARO Reporter and Expert Sharing Comments

Our Top Tips For Writing Top-Notch HARO Pitches

While using HARO is straightforward, being successful on the platform is not always so easy. Here are some tips to help you craft impactful pitches when responding to HARO queries.

Be Concise and Specific

Craft your response concisely while addressing the specific points outlined in the journalist’s query. Focus on providing relevant information without unnecessary fluff.

The journalist won’t have much time to read each pitch, so get straight to the point and make sure you position your value first and foremost.

Answer Promptly

Respond to queries promptly. Journalists often receive numerous responses, so being among the first to reply can increase your chances of being noticed.

As mentioned earlier, make sure that any follow-up responses are quick, too. This makes the journalist’s life easier, which gives your pitch a better chance of being used.

Customize Your Response

Recycled HARO pitches will get you nowhere.

Tailor your response to match the query’s requirements. Avoid sending generic responses and personalize your pitch to address the journalist’s needs directly.

Sure, this takes extra time and effort. However, if you want to see success through HARO, then you need to personalize your pitches.

Highlight Your Expertise

Showcase your expertise by providing valuable insights, statistics, case studies, or personal experiences related to the query’s topic. Demonstrate why you’re a credible source on the subject.

Provide Succinct Contact Information

Include your contact information clearly and concisely. Make it easy for journalists to contact you for further details or interviews. Remember, you’re trying to build relationships.

Use a Compelling Subject Line

Your subject line is what grabs the journalist’s attention. It’s also what dictates whether they open your messages or not.

Craft an attention-grabbing subject line for your email response. A compelling subject line increases the likelihood that the journalist will open and read your pitch.

Follow Formatting Guidelines

If the query specifies any formatting guidelines for responses, stick to them. Following instructions demonstrates your attention to detail and professionalism. It also makes the journalist’s life easier.

Proofread and Edit

Before sending your response, thoroughly proofread it for grammar, spelling, and clarity. A polished and error-free pitch reflects positively on your professionalism.

Offer Exclusive Insights

Provide unique or exclusive information that adds value to the journalist’s story. Sharing exclusive data or perspectives can make your response stand out.

If you just offer stale, generic information that can be found with a quick online search, there’s not much reason for the journalist to choose you as a source.

Respect Journalists’ Deadlines

Pay attention to the deadline provided by the journalist and submit your response well before the cutoff time. Respect their timelines to increase the likelihood of your inclusion in their story.

Be Authentic

Be genuine and authentic in your responses. Avoid overly promotional language and focus on providing helpful information that benefits the journalist’s story.

After all, there’s a reason journalists are sending out requests on HARO instead of just looking for existing information online – they want a unique source.

HARO pitches via email

Conclusion

While you can use many link-building strategies and tools, few are as accessible as HARO. When you get your HARO pitches right, they can boost your website discoverability significantly.

Just be aware that performing quality HARO outreach takes time and effort. If you want this done for your business by HARO experts, check out our fully managed HARO outreach service to help you secure quality backlinks.

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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