Matching up author experts with reporters using HARO
Saturday I went for a jog with Peter Shankman, who created and manages HARO (Help a Reporter Out) — which I mentioned a few weeks ago, although I’d only just signed up at that point — and he filled me in on the service:
“HARO links up reporters with the sources they need, and sources with the reporters who want to cover them. Over 4,000 people have joined in the past 10 days, and it keeps growing and growing. Sources [or people who represent experts like book publicists] can sign up here and reporters can sign up here. About three emails go out a day, with about 10 source requests per email.”
If you decide you don’t like it, you unsubscribe using the link included each message. Pretty simple.
Here’s my more verbose take on HARO. Although I don’t suggest having authors sign up for HARO (too many emails), as publicity / marketing folk working with dozens if not hundreds of authors, services like HARO — or Profnet if your company will fork over the dough — can be useful. Some HARO queries are very specific and / or trade oriented — the other day there was a question about people who had experience landscaping pizzerias, for example — but many others are quite general: Long Islanders over 50 in debt, getting kids back into a routine come September, etc. HARO is also an easy way to get publicity for backlist authors: while I can’t possibly be pitching authors with whom I worked two years ago, I sure can take five seconds to forward emails to them.
A word of caution: some of you won’t like getting an additional three emails a day, especially since there’s no guarantee that any of the reporters’ queries will match your authors’ fields of expertise. I don’t mind, particularly since I’ve found that on average, I forward probably one query a day to authors / colleagues / friends. (I do work on a pretty wide variety of both fiction and nonfiction titles, though.) I also don’t mind since it’s free, I can unsubscribe at any point and all emails start with the subject line “[shankman] …” so if I’m really busy on a given day and simply don’t have time to look, I can easily delete those messages.
Lastly, it’s worth noting that a lot of freelancers use HARO to source their pieces. On the one hand, you probably won’t be using HARO to get a mention in Nicholas Kristof’s latest article, but on the other, our contact with most writer freelancers tends to be disorganized and sporadic, so if HARO can help us reach those freelancers, so much the better.
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