HARO: A great publicity tool for small businesses

Every day reporters, bloggers, book authors, and TV and radio news producers are looking for informed sources to quote on a topic they’re covering. Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a service where you can receive three daily e-mail feeds (Monday through Friday) with queries from media members who are looking for expert sources. The range of topics covered is quite amazing. And best of all it’s FREE!

Previously, the only similar service cost hundreds of dollars a year and was thus used primarily by PR firms and corporations. Then an enterprising young PR consultant, Peter Shankman, decided he wanted to help out his reporter friends by finding them good sources. Hence HARO was born, and it has become a phenomenon, with over 100,000 subscribers and almost 30,000 reporters participating.

Shankman makes money by selling ads at the top of each listing. If you have an interesting product or service that lends itself to this kind of advertising, you might consider that also. He has reported amazing surges in traffic to the Web sites of people who have advertised. And of course he has hundreds of success stories from small businesses who have responded to a reporter query and obtained great news coverage as a result.

Learn all about HARO at http://www.helpareporter.com. A new feature was recently added whereby you can choose to get queries only in the news category you’re most interested in. For example, I only get the queries in the Business & Finance category.

Be forewarned; you may feel overwhelmed by the thrice-a-day feeds. But my approach has been to not feel that I need to read every single one. I dip in as time allows, and I have found a number of queries that were of interest to clients.

Do be sure to follow the HARO rules, which are fairly simple but are strictly enforced. Violate one of them and you’ll get permanently booted from the HARO community.

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