How to Harness HARO for Publicity & Backlinks for Your Blog
This is a guest post article written by Lauren Shroll. If you want to learn more about her and services, click this link here.
Everyone has this mental image: You and your blog are featured in a Yahoo Finance or Business Insider article. You’re recognized for your expertise in being a subject matter expert. You’re widely known as the “best-kept secret” in what you know and do. People are sharing links to your content and website. You’re becoming more recognized in the Internet landscape, and your website is getting valuable organic traffic.
It’s not just a fantasy that happens to other people. It is totally possible for you to land a feature, get strong backlinks, and up-level your SEO strategy in the process. Whether you’re a blogger or freelance writer, business owner, or industry expert, you have many publications that are just a pitch away. In order to get connected to these publications, you can either work your existing network connections to get access to journalists, pay a PR agency or manager, or take advantage of a widely available tool on the Internet called HARO.
What is HARO?
HARO is a service provided by Cision that stands for Help a Reporter Out. This website exists to help journalists and editors get in touch with quality sources like yourself, who are seeking PR exposure and backlinks for your blog and business. As you might have experienced in your process of content creation, there are times when you aim to collaborate or want to interview someone with expertise. In a similar fashion, this is where journalists need your help.
With HARO, journalists from various publications send out daily requests via email on business days (Monday-Friday) at 5:35 am, 12:35 pm, and 5:35 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST). Emails include a list of queries, organized by category, like the sample email above.
The HARO categories include the following:
- Biotech and Healthcare
- Business and Finance
- Entertainment and Media
- High Tech
- Lifestyle and Fitness
In a HARO email, this is what a sample query looks like:
Queries include all the information that you need to submit your pitch. Read the details carefully to determine if you are the right expert to speak on the topic. Is this query related to your niche? Would a backlink from the site be beneficial for you? Are you able to answer the query questions indicated? Make sure to review requirements before crafting your pitch. Not following instructions fully can put you out of the running, since reporters have limited time to follow up on missing items.
Note: If you see “Anonymous” next to the media outlet, it typically means the request is coming from a larger, well-known publication (i.e. TIME Magazine) that doesn’t want to garner extra attention or have others poach their stories.
How does HARO impact SEO efforts?
HARO helps your SEO strategy in backlink building and gaining domain authority on your blog or website. When you pitch to sites with larger domain authority, like Forbes and Business Insider, you can benefit from getting some SEO “power” from these big sites linking back to your website, which increases your domain authority.
When using HARO for backlinks, pitch for relevant queries only. For example, if you are a human resources (HR) manager, you should aim for HR-related queries to give you relevant backlinks. Even if you have knowledge of sports and entertainment queries and can get features from these categories, these backlinks will be less beneficial if your blog or website is in the human resources niche. You’ll get less traffic that converts on your website from those that come from other unrelated sites and niches.
As such, you need to field HARO queries and pitch to what is most relevant to your niche and audience. What does the publication share that’s in line with your content and audience? Does your audience read or follow this publication? What’s the domain authority of the publication that you’re pitching to? Meaning, if you got a backlink, would it help raise your domain authority in return?
As you get featured in articles, you can then share these feature accomplishments by having the “As Featured In” section of your site (with permission for logo use). This shows the people that visit your site that you are an authority in your field and are a resource to share online with others and are worth linking to.
How do I get started with HARO?
Starting the process of submitting to HARO starts by understanding the guidelines. You can do so by clicking here, and selecting “I’m a Source”. Make sure to read through their guidelines, as they include tips that help you with your pitches to journalists. For instance, you shouldn’t pitch your products or offers, send multiple pitches to spam journalists, or add attachments in your responses.
Sign up for a HARO account here. Fill out your account details and select your plan. HARO offers four plans. Generally speaking, the Basic (free) plan works well for most individuals. Once, you’ve filled out your account details, indicating your preferences for what queries you want to receive. Do you want to get an email update for all HARO topic categories, or just one? For example, you can elect to get only emails relating to the Business and Finance category, or you can select “Master HARO” to receive every query from every category. (Master HARO is recommended so you don’t miss anything.) Once you’ve created your profile, you’re ready to start receiving emails from HARO.
How do I submit to HARO?
You have two major steps:
1. Read your daily HARO emails.
2. Respond to reporter requests, ASAP.
In order to submit to HARO and respond to reporters, you need to head over to your portal and select the tab “My Pitches”. In time, this area will be full of pitches that you’ve sent to reporters previously. From here, you’ll select the blue button that reads “Submit a New Pitch”.
You’ll be presented with a screen that will ask you for the query info, which will be the reporter’s email address. (The anonymous reporter email you need here to contact the source is provided in your HARO email for each individual query.) The second part of the HARO pitch is the Pitch Details, which includes the subject line and pitch. After you’ve filled in all fields, you’ll select “Submit” and your pitch is on its way to the journalist.
How do I write a HARO pitch?
Your HARO pitch is your brief response to relevant queries from reporters. In it, you’ll share valuable answers, insights, opinions, and stories in response to questions and prompts from reporters. Overall, your pitch is your brief statement that contributes immense value. Quality is better than quantity, so don’t craft an essay when a sentence or two is ideal.
To write an effective pitch, craft a pitch with tips and insights that offer a fresh perspective and that are quote-worthy. Meaning, your pitch should be straight to the point and memorable. Are you able to stand out from the potential hundreds or thousands of other submissions? Could a journalist take a sentence from your pitch and copy and paste it into their article with ease?
To construct your pitch, greet the journalist (preferably by a name, if given), include your brief introduction with your title or industry expertise to establish authority, and then your direct response to their query. You’ll then sign off with your full name and any requested links that are defined in the query.
Here’s a sample of how to format a pitch:
I bake 500 loaves of bread a day at my bakery, Crunch, which has recently earned the Craft Bakery Business Award. Our signature confection is French baguettes.
Our top tip for baking baguettes is to put a pan of water at the bottom of the oven to get the crisp, crunch that lends itself to the crackling “bread song” that baguettes are known for.
About: John Smith is the owner and head baker at Crunch Bakery. He received the Master Baker award from 2016-2019 and was featured at EliteBakingWebsite.com as a “Baker to Watch” in 2019.
Headshot Link: Url.com
Your response can be formatted in several ways. You can also jump into your response from the first line of your pitch, and then close with your credentials and expertise. In general, don’t get caught up in a templated response or directly copying the above framework. Every publication is different. Like submitting your resume to different companies for different jobs, you’ll find you might need to tweak your pitches along the way. You’ll also find a format and rhythm that works for you to submit your pitch quickly.
After creating your pitch, format your subject line. Journalists may be fielding hundreds of pitches for multiple editorial projects, so sending a pitch with a subject line that reads “My insights for your upcoming article” won’t get much attention. Aim for a subject line that reads more along the lines of [Title] sharing insights on [Article Subject] or tease your insights with “A Genius Way to Network Without Networking”. Keep it as brief as possible and don’t be afraid to test different subject lines as you submit pitches.
How do I get publications to include my insights?
Getting your insights featured is dependent on following query instructions and submitting them in a timely manner (see below). Here are some additional tips that can help you:
- Respond quickly. When you receive a HARO email, don’t wait hours or days to respond, even if the deadline is several days later. Being featured is more likely if you respond in the first 30 minutes of HARO emails landing in your inbox. Reporters will typically pull together the first qualified pitches that reach them.
- Don’t follow up on pitches. You may hear nothing or the timeline for the article’s publish date could be months out. Regardless, don’t reach out to ask the journalist for an update on your pitch submission or the article in question.
- Don’t write for an industry that you’re not an expert in. If you’re not an HR Manager, don’t respond to pitches that explicitly ask for HR managers to share their input. Make the most of your time and the reporter’s time by only submitting pitches for requests that are highly relevant to you.
What happens after I submit to HARO?
Submitting to HARO is a waiting game. Depending on the publication’s editorial calendar, they may publish their article days, weeks, or months later. In the meantime, make it an effort to submit for other pitches to keep the ball rolling on prospective future features.
In order to get a heads up for mentions of you and your blog and business in a publication, set up Google Alerts here. You’ll get a notice when you’re featured anywhere online. If you land a feature in a publication and receive a notice directly from the journalist, be sure to respond and say thank you. Then, be sure to share the article across your social media channels and email list to send additional traffic its way. In doing so, you’ll also be indirectly sending traffic to your insights and backlink too.
HARO is a tool that can be used by bloggers, business owners, and industry experts everywhere. It’s a tool that can be an avenue to build backlinks for your website, raise awareness of your expertise and blog, and assist you in your SEO efforts.
Using this tool is one avenue out of many in trying to gain media awareness and build backlinks for SEO purposes. As such, don’t spend all your time on HARO. Each pitch should take you 30 minutes or less to deliver to the journalist, and it should be to queries that are highly relevant for your blog niche and audience. Timeliness and expertise increase your likelihood of being featured and gaining more publicity and backlinks.
As an entrepreneur about to launch her business, this article was unbelievably helpful. It offers great value for someone just starting out, as well as for established businesses/bloggers. Great framework and advice on how to get your name out there and build your authority. Thank you!
I’m so glad you found this helpful! Lauren put a lot of time and thought into writing this article, so it’s great that it’s serving its purpose. Thanks for this thoughtful comment, Kim!