HAROs (an acronym of the phrase Help a Reporter Out) are sort of the lifeblood of the PR world these days. For those unfamiliar with the term, a HARO is basically a request sent out to PR professionals by a reporter or blogger looking for more information on a certain topic, a quote for an article, or a person that can be interviewed. The concept is a fairly new part of the symbiotic relationship between journalists and public relations professionals. While we in public relations rely on journalists to help spread messages and news regarding our clients, journalists rely on us to provide research, data, and interview subjects that their deadline-obsessed field does not give them much time to acquire. As we have the ability to spend a lot of time on specific subjects and build up strong relationships with people in specific fields, our resources are often invaluable to time-crunched reporters.
Now back in the day (pre-HARO) this research and information that we possessed was distributed to journalists via a method known as “throw something to the wall and hope it sticks.” We would send pamphlets, press releases, and large collections of data to any reporter we could find that worked in the beat that our client was a part of. Naturally, this resulted in many reporters receiving tons of documents that they didn’t need and PR professionals wasting time creating items for reporters that wouldn’t read them. This has begun to change thanks to the introduction of HARO’s. HARO requests basically amount to a shift in the reporter-PR professional dynamic. Instead of us sending swaths of information to reporters hoping that one of them will use it for a piece that will bring clients some impressions, reporters now come to us with specific requests for information.
While a fairly new tool in the arsenal of the PR professional, HARO’s are something no communications firm should ever avoid using. Not only does it make everyone’s life easier thanks to the quick connections between reporters and PR professionals that they make, but they can also help get millions of more impressions for a client than if they were not used. While there is no guarantee that a reporter will use the information a PR professional provides for a HARO request (as they often either put them into a database that sends the request to hundreds of communications firms or contact multiple PR professionals), the chances of getting what is submitted to be picked up is much higher than doing a standard pitch to a reporter. For example, here at the cyphers agency we tend to get one to two pickups per week thanks to receiving and responding to HARO requests for information from our clients. This has allowed our clients and their messages to reach millions of people who would otherwise have never set their eyes on them.
HARO’s may seem a bit daunting to those who have never worked with them before. The databases that provide them are quite large, and it can be a lot of data to sift through. However, the benefits HARO’s bring, especially the massive increase in impressions and views that they can bring to a client thanks to their high chances of pickup, significantly outweigh the slight difficulty of getting used to using them. Avoiding HARO’s in this day and age is like avoiding an oasis in a desert: not a smart idea as using it can only benefit.
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