The media is a powerful tool, if utilized properly. It can give your brand the voice it needs to reach a much larger audience, build credibility, and establish brand awareness. Unfortunately, many businesses simply fail to leverage the power of the media for their operations.
In this article, we are going to discuss how you can get started and how you can utilize the media to help you establish digital credibility, spread the word and increase your sales.
This is not a press release, or something where you pay a PR company to make you draft some release document that they will submit across 1,000 sources, hoping for one to cover your story. Unfortunately, of all the stories that get submitted everyday, there is usually very little chance of getting the coverage you’re looking for.
So, what do you do?
We operate with a different strategy. A more modern, more effective one. HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out, and the organization was designed and built to connect journalists and bloggers with industry experts to meet the demanding deadlines of journalists doing specific topic research.
HARO enables brands to have a voice and tell their stories in a unique way. This platform gets over 50k queries a year from different niche journalists that share their articles on highly respected media outlets. The service itself has the capacity to reach over 800k sources.
How does HARO work exactly?
You have to first sign up to be able to use this service. You don’t necessarily have to pay for the service, but paying brings in some perks to make your life easier along the way.
What makes this service so important is that it fulfills both needs, giving a voice to qualified experts and letting journalists cover the topics they are trying to cover more effectively.
Now they do have one strict rule they religiously follow, but don’t waste other people’s time. If you do, they will kick you off of their network. Basically, if you are not an expert in a field that you think is a good opportunity for a feature, do not respond to the given query.
Let’s say you end up responding to a query. You have to use everything in your power to convince them you are the right person to ask for answers. The best way to do this is by impressing the crap out of them with your biography. You need a kickass biography.
How to write a query response that works
- Keep your query short — Do not use more than two paragraphs to reply with. This amount is perfectly sufficient. In your message, introduce yourself and, right away, address the necessary information. Give them enough but don’t give them too much to where they stop needing you. The point is to get them to bite and reel so you can feed them a spoon at a time.
- Answer Their Questions — Oftentimes, there are questions outlined in reporters’ queries. You’ll have to answer them in order to be chosen, so stay on topic and don’t get off the task. These reporters have deadlines to meet and they need to get to the point. That’s why they are asking the questions they are asking.
- Be Aware of The Deadlines — The majority of the reporters on HARO have query deadlines. Do not apply for a query that expired yesterday. Focus on the fresh ones. Normally, you will get an email roundup of every query in your inbox, and you can apply immediately to eliminate the chance of a late response.
How to get a foot in the media door?
Recently, I had the pleasure of working with a client who had leveraged HARO’s services for his business. Now, he has gotten so much credibility built from being covered on so many different credible sources, he refers to what he does as “outreach”, getting journalists to cover him on several major media outlets.
Years ago, when I was first getting started in the media industry. I also started with HARO. It is a great first step to get your foot in the door and secure that initial media coverage. Reporters are on constant lookout for experts for their interviews, so it’s the perfect opportunity for you to pitch them.
Ultimately, your long term strategy can benefit from implementing both reactive elements. For example, responding to pitch requests on HARO. and the proactive elements where the outreach to media professionals is initiated by you when they aren’t actively looking. Because media professionals are spinning a lot of plates, they’re not only wrapping up yesterday’s stories and working on today’s, but cogitating on what’s coming up tomorrow. You help them when you pitch them something in their lane they haven’t come up with yet.
What is a response rate on HARO?
I’ve probably emailed 50 Haros at any one given time but gotten 0 responses. Reporters receive over 300 queries and pitches a day on average. Take a moment and imagine putting yourself in that reporter’s shoes. The obvious approach is to follow the 3 second rule: if something doesn’t catch and hold their attention within three seconds, they will delete it. That’s a pretty harsh reality, but it is real.
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing a media professional for research I was working on. This expert was working with students who wrote for Forbes, Fortune, Entrepreneur, Chicago Tribune, etc. This guy told me that he receives over 400 queries and pitches a day, sometimes. Sometimes even more than that. Imagine that for a moment: he and his admin sort through hundreds of these emails, and have also said that they use the 3 Second Rule to filter out interesting pitches from none-interesting ones.
Take a look at your pitches and examine them equally as harshly. Proofread the heck out of them so there are zero typos. Does the subject line grab your attention? Ditch that “Re: your HARO query” stuff–they don’t have time for that. Grab their attention. Ditto with regards to starting out your pitch with “Saw your HARO query.”
Again, you have three measly seconds. Don’t waste even one of them.
Please forgive me for sounding harsh here, but it’s not their job to let you know if it fits well with what they’re doing. It’s your job to come up with a unique angle, a revolutionary solution, a new and surprising way to solve their problem, and to do it all in the shortest way possible.
Make sense? I’d rather you think I’m being harsh than have you deal with the harsh reality of zero response to your pitches. That really sucks.
What are some great messaging angles to use for media marketing?
Here’s my take:
- Look at what they’re already talking about in the news.
- Bring a unique take to it. Flip it on its head. Myth bust it. Say something different to everybody else.
- Here’s the catch: you have to substantiate whatever you say. Back it up. Cite the studies or back up your claim to prove that what you’re saying is the new, better way to _____. (fill in the blanks.)
What Are The Benefits of Using HARO?
If you or your company are mentioned in the media coverage, this is a very powerful marketing strategy that can magnify your message and reach more people than ever. Just by giving your expertise on a specific topic, you’ll convey a message of professionalism and your audience will acknowledge you as someone who is an expert and thought leader.
Here are some benefits:
- Establish Brand Credibility
- Increase Brand Awareness
- HARO can benefit your SEO efforts
- Attract More Customers
Make sure you take action and actually leverage the power of media coverage. When you sign up for HARO, make sure you subscribe to the correct industry feed so you only receive the queries related to your niche.
Once you set up your account, be ready to move quick. Coverage opportunities often disappear just as quickly as they come, so pay attention to listing deadlines and make sure you are on the right track. Do not send in a pitch if the deadline has already passed. Create eye catching subject lines to grab the attention of the reporter. Don’t use click bait and stick with the summary text as your subject line.
Also, make sure that you are using an easy-to-read format as your writing strategy. No one wants to read a bunch of mushed up, hard-to-read content. Keep your pitch short and to the point. Also, make sure not to attach anything to your pitch, do not pitch your products or services, carefully read all the pitch requirements and follow the query instructions before pitching.