Every blogger is always looking for ways to get publicity and links to their blog or website. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a great example of a site that might just get you on the “publicity” map. Each day, Peter Shankman the founder of HARO, sends our 2-3 emails with a list of reporters who are looking for experts and stories about specific subjects. If you fit the bill and reply quickly – you might get the publicity that you normally can only obtain through a public relations agent.
Shankman says he built this list “because a lot of my friends are reporters, and they call me all the time for sources.” So instead of each time going through his contact list, Shankman decide to push the requests out to people who actually have something to say. Initially he created a Help A Reporter Out as a Facebook group – but interest outgrew the capacity on Facebook and he started his own email list as way to make it easier for authors and reporters to track down sources.
The HARO service is free and there is little risk of SPAM. Shankman allows limited advertising in each email and because the list is so widely read he is bringing in over $1 million in yearly revenue. Shankman is a public relations veteran and he knows that spam would only risk his current cash cow! The site won an Open Web Award for social media.
A key to using HARO is to read the emails when the email arrives – the typical reporter is on a deadline and only has the time to contact a handful of sources. The other key, and this is a recommendation directly from Shankman, is that you’ll ask yourself these questions before you send a response to the reporters: Is this response really on target? Is this response really going to help the journalist, or is this just a BS way for me to get in front of the reporter? Shankman’s advice is “if you have to think for more than three seconds, chances are, you shouldn’t send the response.”
For a few minutes a day reading, HARO might give you access to that reporter who will value your expertise. As with any hunt for publicity, you will probably read a fair number of HARO newsletters that have nothing to offer you as you search for that one request that is perfect for you.
David Silversmith is an Internet and Web analytics consultant with more than 20 years' experience managing both technology and customer service for information businesses. He is the former CTO at Carfax.com where he spent 12 years implementing and managing IT strategy. While there, he led the adoption of hosted Web analytics and implemented some of the earliest A/B testing applications to optimize visitor traffic. Silversmith also spent seven years at Nielson Claritas, a leading supplier of demographic information, establishing its technical support and training departments. He's also managed call centers supporting products such as Canon printers, and the Sony Magic Link - one of the first hand held PDAs.