What is HARO?
Brands are constantly trying to get their names out there considering every marketing strategy, method, and tactic possibility. There are endless amounts of effective MarComms routes to explore, but often overlooked is utilizing ‘HARO’ in your campaign.
Firstly, let’s explain what HARO stands for:
HARO - Help A Reporter Out! Like many, HARO was developed through a Facebook group, the idea was to discuss a solution to a missing piece to reporter’s stories, a source for them to cite their resources from expertises.
Reporters regularly hunt for the missing pieces in stories, whether it's facts, quotes, opinions, or suggestions. HARO provides a synergistic collaboration that allows reporters to connect to expert individuals, giving credible and interesting content relevant to any given subject matter.
There is largely an under-usage of HARO's marketing potential for businesses. Perhaps this is because at the core of HARO, it is intended to offer genuine help rather than be self-serving for brands. Yet, within this platform (practise), there are great opportunities.
How does it work?
When signing up to https://www.helpareporter.com/, you can choose to be a reporter or a source.
Reporters will indicate what topics they're writing about and can put out requests for information on particular content. The content requests are sent to the wide database of sources, and if any source members are relevant to their inquiry, they can reply with the information.
Generally, sources receive 3 emails daily with reporter requests on subjects that the source has indicated they're involved in.
Often, multiple sources will answer the same inquiry, which simply means the reporter will sift through options to find the most relevant content for their publication. This is worth noting, as if you wish to be featured, you'll need to ensure your answers are focused on directly answering their questions or requests succinctly - don't stray into topics you want to talk about, stick to the question.
HARO as a Marketing Tool.
Firstly, this platform comes with a set of ethical guidelines. It is not a place for free promotion, so there is a balance to be struck with the information and content you provide.
Simply put, you can't just spam reporters with glowing self reviews of your company and your own practises.
There's a fine line here, but striking a balance between relevancy and transparency can lead to great brand exposure. A lot of brands use HARO Marketing in the hope to be featured in big magazines, newspapers like Forbes, USA Today, etc. Thinking of benefits, consider how much sponsored content in media publications can cost, and also the difference in perception that readers have between reading paid-for content (and our suspicions towards advertisers) and between organic articles.
We can achieve a 'thought leadership' status by having spokespeople for our brands regularly answering difficult or complex questions with articulate and insightful answers. For example, if the Mäd CEO is constantly quoted in intelligent conversations about the future of UX, then by association Mäd will be positioned as the go-to agency for forward-thinking design.
You don't need to say 'we are the best', you don't need to reference your own work, it's just about being involved in the conversation.
Ways to utilize HARO Marketing.
Adding Depth to New Content
Don't always aim to be the source. If you create content for your brand, you can utilize this tool to strengthen your work. By becoming the reporter, you can gain quick access to knowledge and information and strengthen the quality of your work with reputable easily-gained third party contributions.
For example, this insight is written purely from the Mäd perspective, but if we quoted four other leading global agencies that agreed with our opinion on HARO marketing, it adds believability and further positions us amongst the best. It also puts us on the radars of the sources (our next point).
Build new relationships.
Being part of the conversation is great, but you can just be acknowledged in the room. By reaching out to experts in the sector/topic, you build your own awareness to people that matter. Work with the best, form new bonds, disrupt key thinkers with radical new ideas, present your work to a targeted audience of interested experts - we could go on, but you get the idea, right?
Improve SEO and inbound traffic.
As a source, you can be included in highly valuable news and publications. If you're credited, and your brand gets hyperlinked as a credential, this will strengthen the SEO of your website and of course help visibility through virtual footfall.
Communicate well and you'll increase intrigue, gaining new followers for your work or those wanting to consider your opinions on wider topics.
If you're included in a piece, or have included sources in your own pieces, then cross promotion becomes common. Think of the social reach from articles:
- You share an article quoting yourself on your Website blog, LinkedIn and Facebook.
- Your professional network re-share articles involving your input due to their business relationship with you.
- Your affiliate brands share your work, or work involving your input.
- Those that were quoted as sources in your work, will repeat all the above steps with their own networks.
Never underestimate the ego involvement in social media content - and therefore the additional reach your brand can get from involving others - either through your work or being a source for theirs.
You can also use new articles as an opportunity to re-share old content similar or relevant to the new discussions. Regenerate interest without seeming stale and uninspiring.
As outlined, you should approach this practise with ethical intentions. Aim to genuinely help others, and aim to produce genuinely inspiring content. With your reasoning fully aligned with the HARO platform mission, you'll gain steady impact through the positive community of knowledge-sharing, whilst likely learning lots of key new knowledge and perspectives.
The networking aspect of HARO can supercharge your visibility and connections without needing to spend thousands of awkward evenings at clunky local business meet-ups. The global reach of professional platforms is a clear advantage if your brand has aspirations beyond your own backyard, but even the local companies can benefit massively from worldwide recognition as it'll seriously impress prospective clients.
They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, and maybe there's also no such thing as a free source.
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