One of my favorite PR tools is Help a Reporter (www.HelpAReporter.com). This free service, which is called “HARO” for short, helps reporters quickly and easily connect with sources for their stories.
Here’s how it works. Three times a day media inquiries are e-mailed to people who have requested them. The inquiries are all different, but generally include this information:
- The type of person the reporter is looking for (e.g., experts in child care, accountants, people who eat lunch at their desks)
- The topic (e.g., front-yard vegetable gardens, cloud computing, time-management tips)
- The deadline (Some are quite short.)
- The contact information.
Urgent requests are also posted on Twitter.
The inquiries are divided into categories such as “general,” “health,” “business” and “technology,” making them easy to scan.
I recently arranged an interview for a client with SmartMoney Magazine thanks to a HARO posting. I was quoted in Better Homes & Gardens, and a colleague was mentioned in the Wall Street Journal, thanks to HARO inquiries.
Of course, there are some caveats. One is that you have to check the postings regularly and respond quickly. Often reporters get so many responses that they put a “stop” on the request. (As of this writing, more than 100,000 people subscribe to HARO, scanning inquiries from almost 30,000 journalists.)
And you cannot pitch the reporter on a different angle than indicated in the HARO inquiry. Doing so can get you thrown off the e-mail list.
That said, HARO is one of the best tools for long-term, consistent public relations. I encourage you to use it. You can sign up at www.HelpAReporter.com.