How to use HARO to get free press coverage for your small business

Image by mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

By Oli Graham

Getting the media involved with your small business is one of the most effective marketing strategies out there. Press coverage can help build credibility for your brand, increase exposure, and even establish your business as an authority in the industry.

However, it can be difficult for startups and small businesses to gain such media exposure through traditional PR methods like press releases. Unless your business deals in revolutionary, groundbreaking products or services on a global scale, most media outlets would hardly be willing to give you any time of day.

While it’s difficult, it’s definitely possible. You’ll just need to be creative with your approach. For instance, you could always take advantage of HARO to get your business free press coverage.

What is HARO?

An abbreviation for Help A Reporter Out, HARO is a platform for journalists and reporters to connect with expert sources and collect useful insights and quotes for their stories.

By citing sources in their stories, journalists essentially give credit to that source and their company. Many of these publications tend to have a global audience. In this way, HARO becomes an effective PR tool that small businesses can utilize even with a small budget.

HARO can be so effective for small businesses because reporters are not always looking to speak to established, popular brands in a given industry when looking for sources. Instead, their focus is on finding the most valuable insight or the best possible answer to their questions.

As such, if you or someone in your company can provide exactly what they need, then there’s a good chance of your business being featured.

How does HARO work?

The first thing to note is that it is completely free to use HARO as a source. Simply sign up as a source on the HARO website and select the types of requests that are relevant to your business or industry.

The signup process takes just a few minutes and you’ll be required to provide your company’s details, including an email address, which you’ll need to verify.

Once everything is set up, you’ll start receiving emails from journalists in need of credible and timely insights on specific topics. You can receive up to three emails a day and over 100 requests from journalists and reporters so be ready to put in the necessary work and provide diligent answers on areas that involve your specific expertise.

Clicking on the links in the emails will take you to the questions posed by the journalist, as well as the requirements for properly answering them. Since there are three emails sent out each day, you can simply look out for relevant questions and answer them.

Now imagine you’re able to provide 5 – 10 proper sources each week. All that publicity would be a massive boost for your business. The best part? You didn’t have to pay a cent for such coverage.

How to answer HARO questions for optimized coverage and conversions

Utilized properly, HARO can get you a conversion rate of up to 20%, sometimes even higher. Ideally, you should be exploring other link building strategies, such as guest posts and niche edits, in addition to your HARO outreach. This way, you can maximize your conversion rates across your marketing efforts.

That being said, responding to questions and requests in a specific way can significantly up your chances of success with HARO. Here are a few guidelines:

-Make sure to supply the details requested by the journalist. This includes quality insights and your credentials. If there are multiple questions, take them one by one and provide straightforward answers to each.

-Always write your answers in short, bite-sized paragraphs. In most cases, journalists would prefer to quote your response directly in their story so try to provide short concise answers. Even if the response requires a lengthy answer, be sure to include quick one-sentence quotes that properly encapsulate your point.

-Answer the questions thoroughly. If you come across a complex question, break it down and be as detailed as possible with the answer. Think of possible follow up questions to the original query and answer them too. The idea is that the journalist should see you as a complete and viable source without feeling the need to look elsewhere for additional info.

-As much as possible, don’t use your responses as an opportunity to promote your business. You could mention your company and your position as a way of establishing your credibility, but limit that to the introduction. Once you get to answering the question(s), keep it professional, and avoid plugging your business in your answer.

-Stick to the facts and back up any claims with relevant data. The last thing you want is for the journalist to reject your response because they cannot substantiate your claims.

-Lastly, answer the questions as quickly as possible. HARO is quite popular so chances are journalists can find the sources they need within a short period of posting their questions. Your chances of being featured are better if you can provide your answer within an hour or two after the question hits your inbox.

Once the journalist publishes the story or article, you should then see your answer and a link back to your company website. Double points if the article was published on a high domain authority site.

The bottom line

Getting press coverage for your small business with HARO can be a rewarding experience, albeit a time consuming one. Still, it is time well spent, especially if you consider the potential reach and conversion rate that typically come with being featured.


Oli Graham is the Marketing Manager of digital copywriting agency RightlyWritten. He is passionate about helping small business owners compete with larger companies through leveraging technology.

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