Do you want to get featured in major publications like Business Insider or Forbes? Of course you do! And one of the best ways to get free press is by creating a HARO account and sending out some pitches.
HARO link building is a fantastic strategy for increasing the quantity and quality of your backlinks, a key ranking factor for Google that can lead to better rankings and ultimately, more traffic.
The HARO platform, which stands for Help A Reporter Out, is a press service that connects journalists with expert sources for stories. If you can provide expertise or unique perspectives, you have a great chance of being featured.
When pitching journalists, it's important to remember that they get pitches all the time, so you'll need to stand out and make your idea irresistible.
In this blog post, we'll give you 12 tips and examples to help you write the perfect HARO pitch!
1. Make sure your pitch is directed at relevant queries and relevant publications.
When you're scanning through the list of HARO queries, make sure you read the latest articles from journalists and find a way to connect them to your idea. Don't just send a blanket email with backlinks to your website; take the time to personalize each pitch and show that you've done your research.
For example, if they are writing about the latest food trends, you might send over a perfect pitch about how to cook with quinoa. Or if they're covering the election, you could suggest an article about how millennials are voting.
When pitching HARO, always make sure your pitch is relevant to the stories that journalists are writing.
"Hi [Journalist], I saw that you're looking for insight on new food trends and I think I have something of value to add. My company just released a new line of organic quinoa products that would be perfect for your next article."
"Hi [Journalist], I noticed that you're writing about the election and wanted to offer my insights as a millennial voter. I'm passionate about this issue and I think my perspective would be beneficial to your readers."
You can also pitch for stories that are already published. If you have a unique angle or new information to share, they may want to run a follow-up article.
"Hi [Journalist], I read your article on millennials and voting and wanted to offer some additional insights. My company did a study on millennial voters and I think our findings would be of interest to your readers."
"Hi [Journalist], loved your article on new food trends! I noticed you didn't mention quinoa recipes, so I thought I'd send you some of my favorites."
If you can't find any connections between their stories and yours, it's best not to pitch at all. Keep it relevant!
2. Keep your HARO outreach short and to the point.
Journalists are busy people and they don't have time to read long emails. Your pitch should be around 100-200 words, max.
Make sure your email is easy to skim by using short paragraphs, bolded headings, and lists. And always start with a catchy headline that will make them want to keep reading.
Keep your pitch short and sweet so they can easily scan it and see if it's relevant to their article. If you can't capture their attention in the first few sentences, they'll probably just delete your email.
Additionally, your subject line should be catchy and intriguing so they want to keep reading. If they're not engaged by the time they finish your headline, they won't bother opening your email.
Emily Amor, a digital marketing & SEO strategist at Digital Darts recommends the following:
- "When pitching to a reporter, make their job easier by providing a ready-to-go short, snappy, and quotable answer for them to use. Reporters get hundreds, if not thousands of pitches a day. Too much information can have the opposite effect and prompt them to gloss over and ignore your pitch. Think, how can your pitch eliminate as many roadblocks for them as possible?"
"Quinoa for Dinner: Five Easy Recipes to Try Tonight"
"How to Cook Quinoa: The Ultimate Guide"
"Can Millennials Save the Election?"
Your email subject line should be catchy and intriguing, while your pitch itself should be short and to the point. The goal is to grab attention.
3. Sell the story, not your company or product.
When pitching a story, it's important to remember that you're selling the story, not your company or product. Focus on the benefits of your idea and how it will interest readers.
For example, if you're selling a new line of quinoa products, focus on why people would want to buy them.
Talk about how they're organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO.
What are the benefits of these products?
Why do they matter to consumers?
Then tie this into the reporter's article about sustainable foods.
When pitching HARO stories, always sell the story, not your company or product.
"As an organic quinoa brand, we believe in sustainability and providing high-quality products for our customers. Our quinoa is grown without pesticides or herbicides, and we only use sustainable farming practices."
"Our new line of quinoa products is perfect for people who are looking to eat healthier. All of our products are sustainable, organic, gluten-free, and non-GMO."
Focus on the benefits and how it will interest their readers. Share your expertise on the subject and don't just talk about the features of your company or product.
4. Personalize your pitch to the reporter.
When pitching an idea, it's important to personalize your pitch to the reporter. Address them by name and use their first name in your email.
This makes them feel special and like you took the time to research them and their work. It also shows that you're connected to their specific publications or media outlets.
If you can, find a way to connect their stories with yours. If there are any similarities, highlight them. This will make reporters more likely to consider your pitch.
In addition, always be polite and professional. No one likes a pushy salesperson, so don't act like you're entitled to coverage.
Personalize your pitch to the reporter and find ways to connect their stories with yours. Be polite and professional while pitching.
5. Research reporters and their media outlets to make sure you know what they're interested in.
Before pitching, it's important to do your research and make sure you know what the reporter is focused on. This means reading their articles and bio so you can get a sense of their work.
It also helps to find out what type of stories they're currently working on. If you can reference one of these stories in your pitch, even better.
This shows that you've taken the time to familiarize yourself with their work and that you're genuinely wanting to help them with their article.
It's also recommended to follow the reporter on social media so you can stay up-to-date with their latest work.
Trevor Ford, Head of Growth at Yotto, suggests that you should:
- "Make yourself known to a reporter by responding and reacting to their social media posts. Engaging with them is definitely more effective than simply sending emails. If you reply and like Tweets and respond to their Facebook and Instagram posts, you’re likely to get noticed by them. Once you’ve gotten their attention, you’re in an advantageous position to secure media placement. You can be relied upon to be a source for their business stories and you might even get a profile story written about you and your brand. Journalists rely on social media for engagement, so definitely be among those who engage with them the most."
Do your research before pitching and make sure you know what the reporter is focused on. Reference one of their recent stories in your pitch if possible.
6. Make your pitch interesting and catchy.
When you're crafting your pitch, try to use colorful language and avoid jargon. Be clear and concise in your explanations, but also make sure you're interesting enough for journalists to want to learn more.
Your pitches should also be catchy and intriguing. You want the journalist to feel like they have to read your email in its entirety.
In other words, make them WANT to write about you.
Remember, the more you can hook journalists in from the beginning, the better chance you have of getting coverage. So make sure your pitch is intriguing and exciting!
Don't be boring.
7. Follow the journalist's guidelines.
Before you pitch a story, be sure to read and follow the journalist's guidelines. Sometimes, aside from their questions, they ask for very specific pieces of information.
This may include a link to your headshot, a link to your LinkedIn page, a professional bio, or other information.
They may also ask that you structure your pitch a certain way. They might ask for no bullet points, or they might ask for a minimum word count or include a maximum word count.
Read through all of their guidelines to make sure you're following directions.
Follow the journalist's guidelines before pitching a story. This will help them find what they need quickly and easily.
8. Get your pitch in early.
One of the best ways to increase your chances of being featured is by pitching early.
Journalists sometimes receive hundreds of pitches, and if you submit your pitch early, they will be more likely to read your email and consider featuring you in their article.
If you're the 50th person to submit a pitch, they're more than likely not even going to open your email. By this point, they've probably read through enough pitches and have the sources they need.
The other important thing to mention is strict deadlines. If you wait until the last minute, the journalist might have already closed submissions. If you send past the deadline, HARO will automatically reject your email and the reporter won't receive it.
Submit your HARO pitch early to increase your chances of being featured!
9. Follow up with the reporter if they don't respond right away.
Sometimes reporters are inundated with pitches and they can't get to them all right away. If you don't hear back from a reporter after a few days, it's ok to follow up with them.
Just be sure to check their submission guidelines first. Some people prefer not to be contacted more than once.
You can also try reaching out to another member of the editorial staff if you don't receive a HARO response from the journalist you pitched.
In addition, always be patient and understand that not everyone will respond to your pitches. In fact, most journalists only respond to a small percentage of the pitches they receive.
You'll usually end up finding your published article from the pitches that weren't responded to. A good way to do this is by setting up "Google Alerts" for your name and brand name. You can also use tools like "Mention" to find mentions of your brand, and Ahrefs to find new backlinks.
It's okay to follow up, but make sure you check their guidelines first, and avoid follow-ups if they explicitly request no follow-ups.
10. Be prepared to be interviewed for media coverage.
Once a journalist decides to write about you, they will sometimes reach out for an interview. This is your chance to provide more information and elaborate on your pitch.
Be prepared to answer any questions the journalist has and be open and honest with them. This is also your opportunity to promote yourself and your brand.
Make sure you have a few sound bites or quotable statements prepared so you can make the most of this opportunity.
Sometimes a reporter will request a phone interview, and other times they are fine with sending additional questions for you to answer via email.
Either way, be prepared and consistently monitor your inbox in case they reach out to you for more information. Be sure to respond quickly so they can get the information they need as fast as possible.
Be prepared for an interview with the journalist if they ask for one.
11. Don't lie to or mislead the journalist.
This should go without saying, but don't lie to or mislead the journalist. They are looking for true and accurate information, so you're only hurting yourself by trying to deceive them.
If you're caught in a lie, it's very likely that the journalist will not write about you, and will likely blacklist you for future articles.
"I'm an expert in SEO and can offer insights on the latest Google algorithm changes."
This may be true, but if you're not actually an expert source, the journalist will likely catch on – and they won't be happy. It's always better to be upfront and honest about your qualifications; after all, the journalist is looking for real expertise to feature in their article.
If you don't have any firsthand experience with seemingly relevant topics, it's best to steer clear of pitching that idea. Instead, focus on stories where you do have something valuable to say.
If you don't have real expertise on a topic, but you still want to submit a pitch, try something like this:
"I'm not an expert on the topic, but I do have a unique perspective that could be valuable to your readers."
This is a much better way to send a pitch. It shows that you're honest and upfront about your qualifications, while also indicating that you might have something valuable to offer the journalist's readers.
Don't lie to or mislead the journalist - it will only hurt your chances of getting coverage.
12. Have fun with it!
Using HARO can be a lot of fun, and it's a great way to get your name out there along with some backlinks for your website.
Don't take it too seriously – have some fun with it and see where the pitches take you. You might be surprised at the opportunities that come your way.
Have fun with HARO and see where it takes you!
Now that you know the basics of pitching, it's time to start sending out some pitches and getting press coverage for your brand! And don't forget – be patient, and understand that not everyone will respond.
The key is to keep a consistent pipeline of outreach going until you find a journalist who is interested in what you have to say. Good luck!
If all of this seems overwhelming, Reporter Outreach is here to help with your HARO link building campaign!
Interested in contributing your insight to the Reporter Outreach blog? Write for us by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org