HARO can be a great way to get coverage and links for your website – but it can also be a huge waste time with no results if you approach it in the wrong way. Understand these six personas and you’ll avoid wasting time and focus on the queries that could give you the media opportunity you’re looking for.
Online PR is an important part of any link-building strategy, but SEOs don’t always have the right skill sets to make it work for them. But one of the great things about HARO is that it can provide a great education at no cost – just dive in and keep at it!
HARO does have quality rules and the sites that pitch must have a certain score on Alexa. And the editors do scan the pitches and do refuse pitches that are not up to scratch.
Sign up at HelpAReporter.com and you’ll get three emails per day featuring queries from journalists who are looking for examples and good quotes to add color to their stories.
Scan through the queries (you’ll get between150 and 200 per day) and you’ll find that they fall into these types of personas.
Persona #1: Top-Notch
The BBC, Washington Post, ABC News, Fast Company, and many other top media outlets regularly pitch queries on HARO. These journalists use HARO to get quotes and add personal stories to their content.
This is one of the great advantages of HARO – it allows anyone who signs up to get access to top journalists.
Of course the payback can be tremendous, however for the top-notch journalists:
- You need to be exactly the type of person they’re looking for
- You’re going to face a lot of competition – lots of other people will be pitching
- You’ve got to have a great story and you’ve got to pitch it well – no mean task
If you can’t fulfill these criteria, then you’ll be wasting your time pitching.
And even if you do have a great story, that doesn’t necessarily, mean you’ll get a link. However, you can improve your chances (see 10 Ways to Increase the Odds of Getting Editorial Links).
Persona #2: General Business Sites
Probably the most common and possibly the most useful of the media outlets you’ll see on HARO. Most have good audiences and require a good standard of writing. These include sites like Open Forum from American Express, Entrepreneur Magazine, and BankRate.com.
Most of your online PR effort on HARO should go into sites like these.
They present a good opportunity because any business can respond, no matter what industry you come from.
The resulting articles are likely to be along the lines of "21 Small Business Owners Share Their Top Tips on…." That means you don’t really have a chance to stand out – the article will not be exclusively about you or your business.
There’s a high probability of getting a link because such sites understand the value exchange – give them a good quote and you get a link in return.
Of course others will see that too, so you’ll have lots of competition.
What is required is:
- Flexibility in being able to see how to make your business relevant to the subject of the article.
- A great sound bite – you need to write something original so that they can simply cut and paste into their article.
Persona #3: Niche Business Sites
These are queries from particular niches – lawyers, psychotherapists, dog trainers, and so on. You really have to be relevant to that niche – trying to twist your story to fit is a waste of time.
If you do fit the bill, you’re likely to get good editorial coverage and a decent link – but you must have a good story to tell.
The disadvantage is that any particular niche is not going to be featured that often and so your opportunities are limited.
Persona #4: Stingy Business Sites
Becoming a writer and posting queries to help you build content for your own site is a legitimate strategy (see Using HARO to Create Fresh, Compelling Content).
However, the value exchange mentioned earlier should be followed – any site that gets a good quote should give a link in return.
But "stingy" sites don’t follow this value exchange. They’re usually attached or related to a commercial business so they’re not strictly a non-partisan media opportunity. They’re often reluctant to give links because they want to sell their own good or services.
So choose very carefully before investing time in making pitches to these sites!
Persona #5: Authors Looking for Material for Future Books
These can be a mixed bunch. You may get some decent writers, with a publishing contract already in place, looking for interesting examples or case studies.
But you may also get a lot of people writing their first e-book who think they can fill it with material from HARO pitches. They still have to meet the Alexa threshold, but it‘s worth checking them out.
- the book may never get published
- you’ll wait a long time for your publicity or link
- your contribution may be out of date by the time it’s published ,li>if the book does get published, it might bomb - no fame or fortune for you!
Are you really prepared to take the chance?
Persona #6: Anonymous
You’ll also see queries that give neither the name of the writer nor their targeted publication. For some reason, the publication does not want to tell you who they are.
Perhaps they’ve got a guaranteed spot on Oprah Winfrey and don’t want to be inundated with hundreds of pitches?
Perhaps, but you shouldn’t count on it. Your time could be better spent on other opportunities.
These six personas cover most of the queries you’ll find on HARO. But before pitching, you need to do some further checks.
Simple Checks on Queries That Interest You
When you do find queries that seem to fit the bill, check out:
- Is the site a place where you’d really like to be featured?
- Does the site readily link to sites that are featured in published articles?
- Can you find articles that have already been written by the journalist behind the query?
- Are there other ways to pitch this journalist or media outlet? A guest post or a press release perhaps?
Handling the media is something that won’t come naturally to all SEOs (see Jon Ball on SEW, "The Future of Link Building").
However, if you think you’ve got an aptitude for working with the media, then HARO is a great place to start.
You will get editorial and often that will be accompanied by quality links. But perhaps more importantly you’ll get the opportunity to develop your skills by working with and building contacts within the media – and that could be very valuable indeed.
Image via DollarPhotoClub.com.