I’ve been using Help a Reporter Out (HARO) for a while to publicize my business and my clients’ businesses.  But I also sit on the other side of the fence as a journalist when I’m looking for sources to add a punch to assignments or writing for Examiner.com (strictly as a labor of love).  Over time, drawing on my previous journalism background as well as my current work, I’ve found that there are several things to do (and not do) when you’re trying to get publicity through HARO.


  • Make your pitch relevant.  Read the entire query from the journalist, not just the headline, to tailor your email.
  • Make your pitch brief.  Include enough relevant information to be helpful, but don’t overwhelm the journalist with a lot of superfluous information.  She’s on deadline, and she doesn’t have time to wade through it.
  • Use proper grammar and spelling.  Journalists notice these things, and they will see you as less credible if you’re writing in fragments and misspelling common words.
  • Offer easy ways to contact you.  Include, at minimum, a good phone number to reach you at (and the best times to call) and an email address that you check regularly throughout the day.
  • Be responsive. If the journalist contacts you for more information, respond promptly.  Again, she’s on deadline, and if you don’t respond promptly, she won’t be able to quote you, and you won’t get that free publicity.


  • Reply in ALL CAPS.  Yes, this did happen.  No, I didn’t read the email; it went straight into the trash.
  • Send an irrelevant pitch.  This is very important.  If you didn’t read the whole query, you’re not going to be able to pitch something she can use.
  • Ramble.  Brevity is best, so keep your pitch short and to the point with enough relevant information.

Follow these tips, and you’ll be able to get free publicity on HARO.  If you need help with a pitch or want to engage my consulting services, contact me.