We are in the process of building brand awareness we’d really like to get our name in the right places and in front of the right people.
I’ve read in a few places about companies that have used Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to get publicity, traffic, and SEO. HARO appeals to us because it’s much less expensive than a PR agency. Is it effective though? I have also heard startup marketers say that it didn’t really move the needle for them, and took up a lot of their time.
Yes. I know the founder (he sold it a couple years back). It is good, but you do have to do the work. Reporters are very specific about what they need. Do not waste their time pitching an idea they have not asked about.
HARO is not a brand-building tool. It is a place to read about requests by journalists that may or may not be relevant to your company and expertise. If you can find 30 seconds three times a day to read their newsletter, consider that the time investment needed.
ProTip - set your email filter up to only show HARO when it contains topics of interest.
Think of HARO as a place where you can showcase your expertise in the specific domain. If your growth strategy includes inbound via demonstrable expertise, you can use HARO. Yes, it will take up a lot of time but could be well worth it if done correctly.
HARO is best used for 'expertizing' type comments. You will wait a long time to see something relevant, you will be pitching against a lot of competition, and you will be rarely utilized, and the outcome may not be worth the time and effort you invested.
What you really want to do is called Targeted PR. And to do that I recommend you ask the following questions:
Who are my customers and what do they read, watch, or listen to, especially when they are most receptive to products or services like yours.
The answer to this question leads you to the right media. But then you need to have the right pitch to meet their needs.
Here is my recommendation. Use what I call the Three I Technique.
1. Identify a Success
3. Innovate with your own information.
Identify a Success Story - Use news search engines on your keywords to identify existing media coverage. Study what it says carefully and use the best feature stories and interviews as a model which guides you to create content that matches the editorial style and readership interests you see in the success stories you find.
Imitate - Create a pitch that uses your information. Follow along using your success story as a guide and create a story all about you. You do this line by line, paragraph by paragraph.
3. Innovate. Now make it better, using the media you selected as a guide again - offering better graphics, better, information, better ideas, whatever innovation you can really bring to the party.
BUT - don't sell products or services. The primary reason people get rejected is that the pitch is deemed too commercial for editorial purposes. You must stay in the realm of value added education and or entertainment, and not switch to sales.
Self-laudatory praise is another killer that sends a pitch to the trash can.
Once you follow the Three I technique, you can use search engines to identify hundreds of magazines, newspapers, radio, tv, news web sites, bloggers, and reviewers of all sorts in your keyword areas.
I must disclose here, I am a long time publicist, author (of the book Trash Proof News releases and many others), retired rewired federal government scientist and former attorney, who is also an inventor, and my new creation is site called Presari a custom search tool that lets you select where you want your information to come from. It can be used to accomplish all the above. Presari in latin means 'creating opportunity' and it is designed to help identify the content, the keywords, and the connections you seek.