Almost every PR and marketing professional is familiar with HARO, the subscription newsletter service that shares queries from reporters and editors looking for sources for their articles. But not many are aware that since being acquired by Vocus in 2010, HARO has added a number of new service features. HARO recently hosted a webinar, “Build Bigger Buzz with HARO” explaining their new services. Since I had never used it before, I was dying to learn all about it and signed up for the webinar.
To provide a quick background if you’re not familiar with the service, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) actually started as a Facebook group by Peter Shankman, a marketing and PR professional based in NY. He started the group because his motto was “If I can help a reporter out, I will” – which translated to the worst acronym ever (IICHARO), according to Peter. In March, 2008 IICHARO outgrew Facebook and moved to an email subscription service with over 1,200 subscribers.
Now the name has been simplified to HARO. The service sends out three emails per day: to nearly 200,000 subscribers, 100,000 journalists, bloggers, authors, and writers internationally. For PR pros this provides a great opportunity to secure coverage for their clients, as well as connect with the reporters that frequently cover their clients’ industries.
The big news from the webinar was that HARO is launching new paid subscription services to help enhance the HARO experience. Don’t worry – the FREE version is staying.
There are 3 paid levels, which range from $19/month (standard) to $49/month (advanced) to $149/month (premium) – you can see the breakdown on the HARO subscriptions page.
With the new paid subscription services, you will be able to sort through the deluge of information that arrives in each HARO email by filtering queries by key words. For example, if you have clients in the healthcare, publishing, and high-tech industries, you can use those key words to filter what queries are most relevant to your clients. Plus, with the premium service, you can add and remove keywords at anytime.
Another cool feature is that journalists can now easily find you. In the free version, reporters only connect with those PR professionals who pitch them. With the new enhanced services, you can create your profile to reflect your expertise in your industry, and you can have unlimited profiles based on which level of service you subscribe to. The example that Peter gave in the webinar was if you’re an expert on unicorns, you can post this is in your profile so if a reporter is writing a story on unicorns (hey, it could happen, I suppose), they will be able to easily track you down.
If you are new to the industry, like myself, and you need to pitch a reporter, the new features will allow you to research relevant information about the target media relevant to your pitch. The new HARO lets you research past queries, reporter’s beats, and find trends to help you identify the right reporter for your pitch.
If you are new to HARO, these are the five basic rules about using the service:
- You will get emails each day, (Monday-Friday) with queries from reporters and outlets from all over the world. Scan the emails, and if you’re knowledgeable about any of the topics, answer the reporter directly using the provided contact information.
- Don’t spam reporters with off-topic pitches in response to their queries.
- You may forward queries to friends, but do not post them on blogs or anywhere on the web.
- You’re not allowed to harvest the reporter email addresses in the HARO emails for any reason.
- Be excellent to each other.
The major differences between the free and standard levels and the advanced and premium subscriptions are that the latter two will feature a head start service. As part of this feature, the queries will be sent via email or text message before they appear in the free and standard emails. You then have the opportunity to get an early start on your pitch and send it to the reporter. However, the reporter will not get it right away – they will receive it with the other’ pitches. This is key to keeping the playing field even for the users who don’t pay as much each month.
Want to try the standard service free for a month? As part of the webinar, HARO announced a promo code to test it out; just use the code harowebinar03649 when you’re signing up. It will expire on 12/31/11 so make sure to sign up soon if you want to take advantage of the full month.
What do you think of HARO’s new services? Do you plan on signing up for any of the new paid subscription levels? Do you have a success story of your own? Please share, we would love to hear your thoughts.
DeAnna Jacobsen – Public Relations Intern at 451 Marketing