7. Reiterate the query in the introduction of the pitch. On the heels of the Subject line tip, I always recommend mentioning the following in your initial pitch: the writer’s name, their query summary, and the outlet. It would look like this as an example:
My name is Wes and I’m writing in response to your HARO request for OUTLET NAME where you’ll be discussing TOPIC. I was able to connect with CLIENT who is a CREDENTIALS in LOCATION. They share their insight on TOPIC below for your review and consideration.”
Trust me, this will help you immensely if you want to check in on a past pitch. I can rarely remember passing details but I can remember hot-ticket outlets I pitched or the topic. Keep in mind that many writers will not notify you in any capacity on your pitch, so don’t assume they’ll tell you it’s been used and published. I share this because the technique above allows you to do your own searching by Author Name + Outlet + Topic.
8. Keep it snappy. If you’re representing clients, this one is for you, as many writers already view PR pros as a sort of roadblock that prevents them from getting direct access to the expert.
In the past, I didn’t respect the number of pitches HARO reporters received. This led to me sending super-glossy and detailed emails introducing myself, the client, and their expertise. I thought this would get me more takers. It did not. Writers care about the insight and don’t have the luxury to read superfluous backstories and pleasantries from a potentially one-off engagement. One day I pretended I was Tom Cruise in Risky Business and said to myself, “Oh, what the fu…dge” and just started rattling off short and simple intros. That worked better.
9. Know that nice people finish first. Think about how you engage with people in every part of your life. Do you smile, ask questions, and thank your server at dinner? If so, did you have a more pleasant experience due to the care you put into it? Do you think the server gave potentially better service because you cared and made their table experience personal? If so, what stops you from doing that in all areas of your life? I try to give the same attention and care to a reporter I have never met and might not hear back from as I would to anyone. Sincerity goes a long way.
10. AVOID promotion and focus on education. This one is important and I can’t stress it enough to new clients. Oftentimes, they’ll want to incorporate their business name, business offerings, or more self-promotional elements into their commentary. Don’t do that…even a lil bit. Technically, you’re not the star here, as the writer is the maestro, and this isn’t marketing copywriting but traditional Q&A interview format. Answer the questions and leave it at that. You (and your brand) will receive recognition via inclusion, the one-liner that introduces you to the audience, and the backlink – and that’s all there is to it!
Some Examples of Successes
Here are some examples of successful links I’ve earned through HARO outreach:
- NBCNews.com: Yeppers, that’s the NBC News. This one placement for a dermatologist client turned into a frickin’ 7 article arch with them and parlayed into other mass media outlets.
- CNN.com: I placed two veterinary clients in this article about vet-approved kitty litter recommendations. It doesn’t have to be sexy, people 🙂 That’s two DA95 follow links in one article!
- Realtor.com: I’ve placed 7 clients (some repeatedly) in articles like this one, which featured a client’s recommendation on the best home improvement projects to do in winter.
- Money.com: Product recommendations are a big one these days, thanks to all outlets moonlighting as affiliate advertisers via Amazon and more. A dental client was featured in this article about the best WaterPiks.
- RD.com: Quick topical articles are also popular for clicks, so places like Reader’s Digest have been great partners of mine. I’m not gonna admit how many of these sources were/are legal clients, but it rhymes with five! Wait, I did that wrong…
- HelloGiggles.com: American actress, Zooey Deschanel, founded this entertainment and lifestyle website that included a couple of my mental health practitioners. In a COVID world, mental health has taken a forefront and has been a popular sector.
I’ve also gotten clients in publications like USA Today, ESPN Magazine, Shape, SELF, Health, AP News, CNBC, CBS, Business Insider, Livestrong, Healthline, MSN, Oprah, Forbes (staff-writer, not agency contributors), and many more household names with killer SEO metrics.
That isn’t supposed to be a laundry list of bragging rights, but encouragement that there are tons of opportunities via earned media outreach. If you’re a source, you need to be doing this and if you’re representing clients, try to find those really responsive and personable ones for this tactic.
It also works incredibly well at boosting organic rankings and visibility which generates more revenue, customers, purchases, etc. We did a comprehensive case study on this at Sterling Sky, which goes into the specifics in more detail than I could properly summarize here. We provide proof too to back up the claims. I encourage you to read it if you want to see how effective earned media link building can be.
Have you used HARO before, or want to? Any tips or questions? Please leave a comment and let me know!