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What is HARO? Tips for Media Outreach and HARO Alternatives

HARO is an abbreviation for Help A Reporter Out, a platform owned by Cision that enables journalists to connect with subject matter experts on a variety of topics. HARO’s popularity has increased significantly in recent years, with its appeal to both journalists and subject matter experts alike.


A completely free platform, HARO helps journalists, reporters, and other writers find individuals willing to contribute their industry knowledge, experience, and insights on a wide array of topics. Including such insights from subject matter experts in content can help with SEO—plus, readers are ultimately more likely to trust the word of an “expert” in many cases.


For subject matter experts, contributors, and respondents, HARO is well known to help with link building, an important component of SEO. In most cases, when a reporter chooses to include your quote in their article, they provide attribution to the respondent via a link to their desired website. The quality of publications on HARO varies greatly, but media pitching is a solid strategy to earn links, among other benefits.


Let’s explore how to use HARO, discuss best practices and tips for media outreach, and learn about HARO alternatives.


graphic of reporters holding microphones pointed at paper and pen

How to Use HARO (Help A Reporter Out)

Help A Reporter Out, commonly known as HARO, is used by reporters—news media journalists and website bloggers—and sources—public relations (PR) specialists, thought leaders, subject matter experts, and link builders. This article is aimed to help sources find success when using HARO, whether your intention is to obtain media mentions for yourself or your brand, or to build links to a website.


Sign up for HARO

The sign up process for HARO is the same for both journalists seeking sources and for subject matter experts looking to respond to media queries.


First, navigate to the Help A Reporter Out website and click “Sign Up” in the top right corner. You’ll be prompted to provide some personal information, including your name, email address, phone number (don’t worry, this is kept private), country, company name, and a password.


From there, you should receive an automated confirmation email from HARO, so be sure to check your inbox and spam folders and confirm your registration as soon as possible. You will not receive emails with journalist queries until your account is confirmed.


Once you confirm your account, login to the HARO platform and confirm your preferences, whether you’re a journalist or source, and opt-in to relevant categories pertaining to your area(s) of expertise: Master HARO, Business and Finance, High Tech, Biotech and Healthcare, Energy and Green Tech, Lifestyle and Fitness Sports, Entertainment and Media, Public Policy and Government, Education, General, Giftbag, Travel, UK.


HARO website


Find and Respond to Relevant Queries


Each weekday, HARO delivers a Morning, Afternoon, and Evening edition email straight to your inbox. They are sent at approximately 5:35 AM, 12:35 PM, and 5:35 PM Eastern Time. If you opted-in to specific categories on the HARO website after completing your sign up, you will receive an additional email with relevant queries per category, along with the Master HARO email containing queries across all categories.


Note: You do not need to login to the HARO website daily. All queries are emailed directly to you and you are able to respond to them via your email provider.


All HARO queries are delivered through the daily digest emails. The emails are formatted with a comprehensive numbered list of queries by category, followed by each query’s outlet and reporter name, full details, requirements, and HARO email address.


Example of a HARO digest email
Example of a HARO digest email

When looking through queries, you can quickly skim the “Summary” line to determine if it is relevant to your area of expertise. Some digests will have multiple queries that you’ll want to answer, while others may have none. That is why employing a HARO strategy that includes checking emails once a day or more frequently is important, in order to keep up with media outreach opportunities.


Upon finding a query that you want to answer, you’ll need to check the deadline and pay attention to the reporter’s requirements, if any. It should be noted that it isn’t worth your time to craft an answer and send it to a reporter if it is past the query deadline, as HARO will automatically email you back that the deadline has passed.


Reporters often provide specific requirements or requests for contact information in their queries. For example, if a journalist is writing an article on the subject “Back Pain Causes and Exercises,” they may wish to only speak with qualified experts including chiropractors and physical therapists. You should respect the writer's profession-related requirements and only respond to the query if you are a good match.


Another common request is for respondents to include their full name, company name, website, LinkedIn, and/or URL to their headshot for attribution purposes in the published article—should your quote be used.


Example of a HARO query
Example of a HARO query

To respond to a HARO query, you’ll need to send an email to the query-specific email address, which will look like "query-abcd@helpareporter.net." Note that each query has its own unique email address. More often than not, reporters will include their name and outlet so you can properly address them when writing your email pitch, but some journalists prefer to remain anonymous. You should use your discretion when choosing whether to respond to anonymous queries.

How to Write a HARO Pitch


Writing your pitch is the most important part of using HARO! Your pitch refers to the email you will write when responding to a journalist’s query. And yes, there is more to writing HARO pitches than composing your average email.


Before you start composing your pitch, keep in mind any requirements that were mentioned in the query, such as word count or inclusion of a website link. It may be helpful to include this information before you write, to avoid forgetting about it later.


For the email subject line, you may write whatever you’d like, though most people tend to copy and paste the query’s “Summary.” Though a common practice, your email can get lost among all the others with the same subject line, so you may want to use something different.


For example, if a query’s summary is “Seeking marketing professionals to discuss best times to post on social media platforms,” you can write a subject line that says, “Best times to post on social media” or something similar, just not the exact phrasing of the HARO summary.


Now you’re ready to write your pitch. Start as you would any email—with a greeting. As mentioned, most reporters will share their name and outlet in their query so you should properly address them by name before diving into the body of the pitch.


When composing your pitch, try to keep it as simple as possible. Refrain from unnecessary vocabulary and jargon (unless it’s essential to your answer), ensure you address the reporter’s questions, and stay true to yourself and your knowledge (don’t copy information from the internet or use AI generated content).


A general rule of thumb for pitch length is to answer each question within the query in 1-2 paragraphs at most. Bolding the reporter’s questions within the pitch above each respective response can be beneficial to both you and the reporter, as well as including bullet points or short numbered lists.


In addition, follow general rules of email etiquette. Avoid over-formatting your text with different fonts, sizes, and colors; don’t type in all caps; use a professional tone; and so on.


Once you’ve written your pitch, give it a proofread to correct any misspellings or obvious grammar issues. Again, make sure you’ve met the reporter’s requirements before sending.


HARO Pitch Examples


Below is an example of a successful HARO pitch that resulted in a link placement on a DR 72 site.


HARO pitch example

The pitch above addressed the reporter, identified themselves and their expertise through their job title and company, and answered the query in two paragraphs. The closing was respectful of the reporter’s time and included the source’s full name and website for accreditation.


Here’s another example, this time, leveraging the source’s existing content and research on the topic they are pitching. This pitch resulted in a placement on a DR 84 site.


HARO pitch example

While much more informal, this pitch got straight to the point by expressing the source’s knowledge and providing helpful information for the reporter to leverage in their piece, with a link to the source of data for attribution.


Finally, below is a customizable, multi-use HARO pitch template that can be used for almost any and every pitch.


HARO pitch example

Keep track of the different pitch styles you're sending over time and make note of which result in media placements. Those can then be your "go-to" pitch templates when doing media outreach on HARO and other platforms.


HARO Alternatives

Once you’ve honed your HARO pitching skills, you might be eager to seek additional platforms that connect journalists with subject matter experts. Good news: additional platforms exist!


Let’s explore some HARO alternatives below to further increase your chances of landing a media placement and earning a high quality backlink.

media outreach platforms logos

Help a B2B Writer

Perhaps most comparable to HARO is Help a B2B Writer, or HaB2BW. This platform is extremely similar to HARO in that you sign up as a reporter or source through their website, select which categories are most relevant to your expertise, and receive near-daily emails whenever queries are available. HaB2BW also feels very familiar to HARO when reading and responding to queries.


As the name implies, the categories available on HaB2BW are largely in the realm of business and marketing, unlike HARO with a wide array of categories. Some of the most notable categories on HaB2BW include AI, Content Marketing, eCommerce, HR, Marketing, Saas, Sales, and SEO, among others.

One major difference between HARO and HaB2BW is the quantity of available queries. On HARO, you’ll receive upwards of 100 available queries per day on the master list. With HaB2BW, depending how many categories you opt-in for, you might receive just a handful of queries per day, but they should be more targeted to your interests and experience.


HaB2BW is significantly lesser known than HARO, so while you’ll probably see more repeated journalists and outlets, you shouldn’t have as much competition when sending pitches—a major advantage of using this platform.


SourceBottle

Another free HARO alternative, SourceBottle connects journalists with individuals looking to be quoted in the media. One key difference between SourceBottle and other HARO alternatives is that reporters on this platform are generally looking for personal anecdotes, experience, and stories related to a given topic, opposed to general insights on a subject.


For professionals looking to establish themselves as thought leaders and businesses aiming to earn media placements, SourceBottle isn’t your best choice of platforms. However, if you are an individual who has a story to tell and wants your voice to be heard, give SourceBottle a shot.


Terkel

The HARO alternative called Terkel is a lesser known platform that helps content publishers get insight from industry experts. Similar to Qwoted as you’ll see below, Terkel has both free and paid plans for sources. With a free account, you may answer up to 3 queries per month, and the paid plans range from $99/mo to $199/mo + $30/seat.


Terkel is a good choice for professionals and businesses alike, as it offers a variety of queries across business, marketing, and other niche industries. While there is a lesser volume of queries available on Terkel than on HARO, the questions tend to be more engaging or “fun” to answer, and a healthy amount of top tier outlets use the platform.


The Terkel platform is web-based, so instead of answering queries via email, you’ll search and respond to questions on their website. The user interface is very simple to navigate, though it can be a slight inconvenience to have to go to the website to see opportunities opposed to receiving them directly through email.


Qwoted

Qwoted is another great alternative to HARO, despite their numerous differences. Both reporters and sources can sign up for Qwoted, but you must create a separate account for each purpose (unlike HARO and HaB2BW). Not just anyone can sign up for Qwoted, however; you must provide a brief overview of who you are and how you intend to use the platform upon sign up.


This added step essentially vets sources to ensure they are legitimate, experienced experts versus someone claiming to have knowledge on a subject they aren’t knowledgeable about just to answer queries and get links. You’ll also notice that the quality of publications and outlets on Qwoted exceeds those on HARO, meaning more top tier, high authority outlets are sourcing quotes via Qwoted.


The primary differentiator between Qwoted and HARO is that Qwoted offers paid plans, while HARO is 100% free to both journalists and sources. Reporters can use Qwoted for free, but sources are only allotted 3 pitches per month on a free account. If you want to reach more reporters and increase your chances of getting more media placements, you’ll need to spend $124.99/mo or create a custom plan for your team.


Another key difference between Qwoted and HARO is that the Qwoted platform is best used through their website, rather than directly through email. While this makes Qwoted a tad less convenient as all queries are not delivered straight to your inbox, there are settings you can enable to receive relevant queries in your inbox so you don’t miss the opportunity to respond.


A big perk of using Qwoted is that you get your own reporter or source profile which enhances your subject matter authority and expertise. Not only should your profile include your headshot, email, website, social links, and a short bio—making this information easily accessible to reporters—but it can also serve as a home for all of your earned media placements. By showcasing your earned placements across various publications over time, you’re boosting your credibility as a source and reporters will be more likely to use your pitch over non-experienced contributors.


In addition, source profiles are searchable on Qwoted to help connect journalists with their ideal matches, and they are indexed on Google, meaning profiles can appear in the SERP (search engine results page). Frequent sources—those who pitch frequently on the platform—are highlighted as such, further increasing one’s chances of connecting with a reporter and landing a placement.


Overall, Qwoted is a higher quality platform for both journalists and sources than HARO, but it may not be sustainable for link building long-term if you don’t intend to upgrade to a paid plan.


graphic of best practices and tips for HARO

Media Outreach and HARO Tips

Whether you’re using HARO for SEO or working to build up your online presence, there are a number of best practices to keep in mind. Follow the below tips for increased chances of success with your media outreach.

Check HARO emails frequently: While it is not expected that you eagerly wait around for each HARO email, it is advisable to check these emails at least once per day, if not more frequently. Not only do all queries have a deadline (ranging from mere hours to days or a couple weeks), journalists are more likely to use responses that come in first, opposed to responses received days or weeks after their query posting date.


Seek out top tier outlets: Journalists at high quality, “top tier” media publications (a.k.a, the most coveted for link building) tend to have the quickest deadlines, so keep your eyes peeled and send over your response to them as soon as possible for a higher chance of inclusion in their article. Examples of top tier outlets include sites with a high domain rating (DR), such as The Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Huff Post, and Forbes.


Be quick, but not sloppy: While quick responses to queries are more likely to be used by journalists, sloppiness or carelessness in your pitch is a surefire way to get ignored—or worse—downvoted by the reporter. An occasional typo, misspelling, or improper use of grammar isn’t worth worrying over, but low-effort responses are easy for reporters to detect and you'll have a slim chance of being selected for inclusion in their piece.


Avoid using AI writing tools: With the recent rise in AI generated content through platforms such as ChatGPT, many journalists and their publications have enforced stricter requirements when sourcing quotes through HARO, so you mustn’t use AI to write your pitches.


Don’t overreach: Stay true to your area(s) of expertise and only pitch queries for which you feel confident sharing your insights. If you send irrelevant or unqualified responses, reporters will not only ignore your replies but also may downvote your answer. Excessive downvotes may lead to your HARO account being suspended.


Exclude sales-y, commercial language and links: With the exception of the Giftbag category, journalists don’t want to be pitched your product or service; they want qualified answers to their questions. Unless otherwise noted in a query’s details, avoid sales-y or commercial language and links at all costs.


Keep it short and sweet: Reporters can get upwards of 100 emails per day. Don’t waste their time and clutter their inbox with long responses. Avoid filler words and personal anecdotes—get straight to the point in your pitch. Some reporters include maximum word count requirements, so double check your word count before sending your pitch!


Don’t outsource media outreach: There are link building and HARO-specific services available online that claim to build you links through HARO pitching. You shouldn’t engage with these companies for a number of reasons. Trusting another individual to write on your behalf can be risky and potentially damaging to your own or your company’s reputation. Additionally, it breaks almost all journalistic principles to falsely attribute credit where credit isn’t due. Further, it is impossible to guarantee any number of links obtained by HARO (especially in a given timeframe), as these companies do not have control over which responses are used by journalists.


Time management is a must: While earning links from HARO may be your primary goal in media outreach, you can’t guarantee when or where your pitches will be used, if at all. It may take time for you to get comfortable with pitch writing and land your first placement, or you may see multiple placements come in one month and none for the next few months. While you may want to focus more energy into HARO when you’re first starting out, keep track of your time searching for queries and responding to pitches to ensure it isn’t excess of what you should be spending. Numerous other link building strategies have a better ROI than HARO.


Not every media placement results in a backlink: Some reporters and publications are more stringent than others regarding external links, so don’t be shocked if a reporter on a top tier site wants to use your quote but isn’t able to link to your site. You should still be appreciative of your quote being selected for inclusion, and this name or brand mention is still beneficial for your online presence. While you generally shouldn’t ask for a website link if the reporter made it clear they aren’t able to provide one, it may be worth a shot to ask if you notice other contributors in a given article are attributed with external links. Use your best judgment in those cases.


Don’t give up: HARO link building is not a one-and-done or easily repeatable task to obtain quick backlinks; rather, it should be part of your overall link building strategy. You might land a placement with your first pitch, or it might not happen after sending dozens of pitches, but you will have a higher chance of earning a media placement by following these HARO tips and best practices. As with learning any new skill or technique, be patient, be persistent, and most importantly, don’t give up!


Build Links and Brand Recognition Through HARO and Alternative Platforms

HARO and similar platforms are great tools for improving your online presence and building your backlink portfolio, especially on high quality publications and industry-relevant outlets. There is an art to crafting successful HARO pitches, and time and resources must be spent to see long-term success of your efforts.


Individuals and businesses should implement a media outreach strategy that includes time to read through and answer HARO queries on a regular basis to earn quality, relevant backlinks and broaden their online presence across readerships.


Connect with an experienced digital marketing specialist today to start building high quality HARO links and improve your overall digital marketing strategy.

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