What is HARO and Why Should You Use It?

By Jeffrey Kitt Published: 18 February, 2020 Last updated: February 17th, 2022 at 4:06 pm

printing press machine

The state of journalism today is a far cry from its hey-day.

Newsrooms are shrinking and journalists, like many of us today, are increasingly time-poor. And yet these same reporters are expected to produce more content for less return.

This is not only bad for quality journalism but public relations. The internet has made reporters easier to contact but that does not mean that they are easier to interest in any given story. In fact, journalist inboxes are bombarded with story ideas and tips all the time, meaning that your idea must be the best to work.

It is in this context that HARO makes a lot of sense. Let’s explore what the term means and how it works for both sides of the communication divide.

What is HARO?

HARO – Help A Reporter Out – connects journalists with story sources.

If any journalist or publisher has an article idea, yet are struggling to connect with an article subject, they use HARO to request for subjects.

In its simplest terms – HARO is a glorified email list that caters to online and offline journalists who are on the hunt for story sources. This is great for startups looking to demonstrate their industry expertise and get their name in the news. 

For example, perhaps your startup could comment on this journalist’s story about “How I Turned My Hobby Into A Successful Business”? Or maybe your expertise is in health and medicine? Er, perhaps this subject is more applicable: “Why Pooping Properly Is Important to Your General Health”. Yes, that is a real request. 

The point here is that requests can literally be about anything. This offers both journalists and PR agencies or startups endless opportunities to put their hand up for comment.

Haro is great for thought leadership

This is the most obvious win for succeeding with any HARO request. Commenting from the perspective of industry expertise positions any startup as the top in their field. Appearing in publications as an industry thought leader is what every business should strive for, and this is a process made easier through HARO.

This platform lets the journalist come to you instead of the other way around. Perfect, right? No more pitch emails, no more pestering publications with little response.

Thought leadership has never been easier thanks to HARO – and don’t just think this service is for small publications. In fact, in order for a blogger or journalist to send out a HARO query, the website they write must have an Alexa ranking of 1 million or less. That means the majority of queries are for publication on decent websites. 

Even some of the biggest in the game – like The New York Times, Time, The Wall Street Journal, Fox – use the service to find and connect with suitable sources. With more than 55,000 journalists and 800,000 sources, you might be surprised to find out just how much seemingly organic thought leadership actually comes from HARO.

The opportunity to spruik your industry expertise contributes to something just as important – backlinks. Hyperlinks that refer back to your own domain builds trust and traffic to the website, improving search visibility and ranking over time.

Why are these so important? They are great for PR and SEO and, in turn, increasing traffic into your website. 

So, there is certainly more to helping a journalist than showing off your knowledge on the topic. And while we’re at it, let’s discuss why it is handy in the long-run to help that journalist.

HARO helps build your startup’s network

They say it’s not what you know, but who you know, right?

Building that contact and helping them with a story is good practice when it comes to getting in touch with the right people. Befriending someone from The New York Times is generally hard to do. After all, what are the chances that writers from such an institution would contact you out of the blue? Working with this writer on their HARO request means building that relationship on the right foot.

Connections make or break any startup. This is just as true for public relations as it is for funding rounds and seed investment. Entrepreneurs need to know who to talk to – and the same is true of journalists. HARO offers a vital connection that goes much further than the standalone article.

HARO makes sense because journalism really does need help. This platform connects stories with sources to save effort on both sides of the divide.