Growing a Business
How to use HARO to get your business in the news
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Whether you’ve been an entrepreneur for five decades or five weeks, you know the importance of getting the word out about your business. One way to earn credibility and set yourself up as a subject expert is to get featured in the media. If you know how to use HARO (an online service that connects journalists and sources), you’ll be better equipped at getting your business noticed both offline and online.
But, what is HARO and how can it get your business media attention? I’m sharing everything you need to know about HARO below, along with how you can use it in your business practices. Keep reading to learn more.
What is HARO?
HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It began as a Facebook group in 2008 to help reporters and journalists gain feedback directly from the public. It later transitioned into a mailing list and was ultimately acquired by Vocus, Inc., which later merged with Cision Inc.
Before HARO was around, businesses often had to pay a publicist or public relations firm thousands of dollars to be featured in a media outlet. They may have also written and sent out their own press releases in hopes of getting lucky enough to get the attention of a journalist.
These days however, getting media attention can be as easy as answering queries sent to your email via HARO. It’s essentially a media and source matchmaking platform, where people can sign up as either journalists or sources.
A business can benefit from both options by strategizing connections accordingly. I’ll explain how to use HARO in more detail below.
How to use HARO as a journalist
When journalists sign up for the platform, they can post queries related to content they are developing. This content can be:
- Podcast episodes
- Radio programs
- Web content
- Newspaper articles
- Magazine articles
- Television programs and more
If you’re learning how to use HARO for the first time, it might help to view a visual breakdown. Here’s a peek at what a blank query looks like from my own account:
The journalist shares what media outlet the content is for and the outlet’s URL. They can then choose whether to remain anonymous or publicly share where the content will be published.
Next, they will include a short summary of what they are looking for, followed by a more in-depth query. The section beneath the query is reserved for requirements that sources must meet if they hope to be selected as a contributor.
Finally, journalists will fill out the deadline and submit their queries to HARO for approval. If they are approved (and not all of them are), the queries are then sent out to an email list of potential sources.
Typically, HARO will approve or deny the query about one or two business days prior to the deadline. If a journalist has a quick deadline and needs answers the same day, they can click “Urgent” and HARO will post the query on Twitter to get instant responses.
How to use HARO as a source
When a source is exploring how to use Haro for the first time, they’ll begin with the three step sign up form. Here, they can choose the frequency of emails they receive. Emails are sent out Monday through Friday in the morning, afternoon, and evening. They are then broken down into different categories that include subjects like:
- Business and Finance
- High Tech
- Biotech and Healthcare
- Energy and Green Tech
- Lifestyle and Fitness
- Entertainment and Media
- Public Policy and Government
The queries in the emails vary greatly depending on what journalists are seeking sources for. Some sample topics might include:
- How to be successful with cryptocurrency
- The best holiday gifts for men over 40
- Tips from relationship counselors on how to find a date using online dating services
I’ve also seen generic queries and ones that are so hyper-specific, I wonder if the journalist was able to even find a source at all! You honestly never know what will pop up as a query. Plus, anyone can sign up and learn how to use HARO for free.
Alternatively, Cision also offers premium subscriptions starting at $19 a month. This paid option gives you additional opportunities to increase your chances at getting featured. But It’s worth noting that a paid subscription doesn’t guarantee you’ll be chosen as a source.
My experience using HARO
As a journalist, I’ve learned how to use HARO for many different types of stories — including this post. Some of the queries I’ve sent out include:
- Podcast promotion tips
- Travel agent success ideas
- Tax deduction advice for small business owners and more
The reason I love HARO so much is because you can be as specific as you’d like with your query. You can then find the exact sources you’re looking for to help enhance your content and add credibility to your posts.
Why I like HARO’s anonymous feature
One you understand how to use HARO a little better, you might decide to utilize their anonymous feature in the settings. I always opt to make the outlet I’m gathering materials for as “anonymous” because I don’t like to share posts until they are live – or at least guaranteed to go live. Sometimes stories get killed midway through production and it can be very frustrating when you get an email from a source wondering what happened to the post.
Breaking the news that a post never went live could be quite disappointing for any sources involved.
I’ve also noticed that disclosing your outlet’s name sometimes skews the responses you get. For example, everyone wants to respond to a query from Forbes, but they may not want to respond to a query from a smaller website.
Note: If you are a journalist representing an online-only or business website, make sure to check out the HARO rules for journalists before getting started — especially if you’re not sure how to use HARO. You don’t want to violate any rules that could deny your query or ban your account.
Keys ways HARO has helped me
I’ve also used HARO as a source for both myself and for clients I ghostwrite for. It’s a fabulous tool for:
- Getting backlinks to your website
- Establishing yourself as an expert in your field
- Contributing to the content that matters to your niche
When the queries go out in the morning, afternoon, and evening, there could be 50 or more responses per email. Again, queries are all broken down by category, so sources can skip to the subjects they want to contribute to.
I’ve never personally paid for HARO’s premium plans, and don’t know anyone who has either. But if you want to know how to use HARO with additional subscription-based features, here’s a glimpse at what they look like and what they offer:
What niches benefit the most from HARO?
I’ve yet to see a niche that wouldn’t benefit from learning how to use HARO. Because of the different categories, and the wide variety of queries created across all of the categories, I would bet that any business could find some kind of query to respond to – even if your business isn’t directly related to a category.
And, if your business doesn’t have anything to contribute the first time, you can always expect a new query within the next day, week or month.
It’s okay to hold out for the best queries you feel are a match.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of HARO, let’s take a closer look at how to use it to get your small business in the news!
How to use HARO to benefit your small business
First, the bad news. Don’t jump into HARO expecting to land a feature in Forbes the first day. While this can certainly happen, it’s highly unlikely. There are many small business owners just like you who know how to use HARO to get media attention.
Perhaps Sharon Geltner, a successful multimedia journalist who’s written for publications like Forbes and the New York Times, says it best:
“I won’t kid you, using HARO means I kiss a lot of frogs before I meet the prince. But it is well worth sorting through amphibians to eventually ascend to national media outlets – which would otherwise be very hard to do.”
With this in mind, here is my best advice on how to use HARO to get in the media:
- Have a website up and running. Make sure to have an “about” page available, so journalists can learn more about you.
- Sign up for an account as a source on HARO. This will grant you access to media queries you can respond to.
- Choose the frequency of emails you would like to receive. Email newsletters are sent out to sources three times a day and can range from 10-100 queries.
- Create a plan of attack. Think about what your business is all about, what market you are trying to serve, and which outlets align with your business values.
Editor’s note: If you need help setting up a website, check out GoDaddy’s Website Builder to easily get started with no tech experience necessary.
Pro Tip: Don’t respond to every query!
Instead, choose the ones that most resonate with your ideal audience. Seek out queries that you would be best suited as a source for.
Once you start receiving queries, read them carefully and start responding.
Be prepared to respond quickly!
Some journalists get dozens of pitches and don’t have time to read each one. They may decide to stop accepting pitches after receiving a few decent responses. Pitches that come in too late risk getting buried at the bottom of their priority list.
For example, one of my most recent HARO queries had 56 responses and I was only able to use 11. Though I got a lot of great responses, I went in the order I received them and chose the first 11 that worked for my content. I didn’t even read the rest!
However, that’s not to say you should rush when responding to queries – not by any means. Always give thorough and well thought out responses, but don’t wait several hours to figure out who you want to respond to.
Real world examples of how to use HARO for your business
To help you determine your plan of attack, let’s look at some real world examples of sources that know how to use HARO successfully.
Hugo Guerreiro, The Men Hero
Hugo Guerreiro, founder of lifestyle and men’s fashion blog The Men Hero, says that HARO has been wonderful for building his domain authority with backlinks. He says, “It’s free and takes less time than pitching to other websites to provide you with a link or write a guest post. I have built all my backlinks with HARO, since my answers have been chosen multiple times. I would advise anyone who wants to improve their blog authority to answer HARO questions.”
Jackie Blanchard, Fortress Development Solutions
Jackie Blanchard is a social media marketing specialist for the construction development company, Fortress Development Solutions. She says HARO has been great at getting “niche industry opportunities” and adds that it has also helped her company “get in front of a national audience.”
“The more articles we can collaborate in, the more opportunities our potential customers will have to find us. HARO is very user-friendly and we get emails daily with potential opportunities. I scroll through and if we’re a good fit I reach out and share our story.”
Her best advice for sources looking to get selected is to be open. “The more information you share, the more likely you will get chosen for follow-ups.” She also notes that it helps to get email notifications, so you can be among the first to respond. “Always answer all questions and offer your company for future needs.”
Additionally, your response should be thorough, yet straight to the point. I’ve gotten responses that were as short as one sentence and as long as three pages. The three pages were overkill!
Stephen Curry, CocoSign
Stephen Curry is the CEO of the online signature platform, CocoSign. He says that HARO has become the best means of getting his business featured in the media and that it has “proven to be the best backlink generation technique.”
His best advice for sources is to:
“Read the requirements that the reporter has given. If you feel that you have a unique point of view and insight on that query, use your best words to describe it as clearly as possible, and you’ll see that query getting accepted in no time. The chances of getting selected as a source get much higher when you provide credible content in less time.”
Related: How to get backlinks to a small business website
Patty Malowney, Badass Web Goddess
Patty Malowney is the social media marketing and SEO expert for Badass Web Goddess. Her best advice on how to use HARO is to:
“Use HARO consistently every day. They send out queries three times a day. Go through every single one of them. If you miss one, you could miss an opportunity. When you find a query that interests you, respond back promptly. Make sure what you write is quote-worthy. Think about whether or not the author can easily use what you say in a quote. If not, condense what you have to say into a bite-size quote.
Don’t get discouraged. You have to send pitches regularly and be patient. Sometimes you won’t hear anything back for a month or longer. If you stick with it, you’ll get better at your pitches and will be selected more often.”
Alex Shute, FaithGiant
Alex Shute, founder and chief editor of the Christian lifestyle website FaithGiant, says, “HARO has been a reliable source of media attention for our website and the best way to utilize HARO is to choose queries that are related to your website’s main topic and interest.”
His best advice for getting selected as a source is to write answers that are “straight to the point yet incorporate your own experiences related to the queries.” He also adds that your goal for answering should be “both helpful and genuine.”
When it comes to the length of your answers, Shute recommends aiming for a happy medium:
“It’s all about finding the right balance between one that’s short enough for both the recipient and the would-be readers to not lose interest easily, but also be long enough to be informative, engaging, and compelling. This can be the difference between someone opening it or sending it to the trash. A well-written answer to the HARO query can save the day.”
Remember, the end-game is to offer answers with substance in a timely manner.
Greg Jenkins, Bravo Productions
Greg Jenkins, founder and partner of Bravo Productions, has been using HARO for the last 13 years. He says “it has been a great experience in not only getting our company’s name out to global audiences, [but] it’s also been beneficial in educating consumers and various audience demographics about the profession.”
To highlight his point, Jenkins notes that “topics run the gamut” and can include examples like:
- Quick party fixes for Health & Fitness Magazine
- Budget tips for websites like Brides.com
- Super Bowl party tips for publications like the Atlanta Journal & Constitution
- Party planning advice for Costco Connection Magazine
- Security and risk management advice for publications like Smart Meetings
He takes things a step further by sharing any content his company is mentioned in on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more. This helps Jenkins:
- Build up his social fan base
- Set himself up as an expert in event planning
- Increase brand awareness
Knowing how to use HARO helps give your small business the upper hand in marketing and Jenkins reports:
“We find using HARO is a means to distinguish our company from the masses and competitors. There are a plethora of event and party planning companies in every city. When included in an article, it’s one way to distinguish our company from those who may not receive the same media exposure.”
His best advice for a source is to, “Be specific in your answers. Vague responses to questions will not help the journalists or the end reader if your input adds little to nothing in the story.”
Jenkins also adds that you’ll want to make sure you edit and utilize spell check for grammar before sending responses to journalists. He suggests keeping an eye out for typos and making yourself available for any follow-up questions.
Linda Pophal, Strategic Communications
Linda Pophal, founder and owner of Strategic Communications, uses HARO as both a source and a journalist. She says the most important thing is to “only respond to pitches that you are truly qualified for.”
Pophal also notes that HARO, in her opinion, has been overrun “by trash responses from people [clearly] seeking only to attain backlinks.” She adds that these responses often use content generation tools to develop their responses, which typically don’t offer any valuable insights to her queries.
“If you don’t have the credentials [or] expertise the reporter is looking for, don’t respond. If you do, and do so repeatedly, you’ll fall off their radar screen and likely be blocked. I have a number of names I’m now familiar with that I now delete responses from without even looking at them because their input has been so irrelevant or off the mark.”
Finally, she acknowledges that journalists are busy and more likely to use “detailed written responses than to take time to interview sources.”
“Providing relevant detailed information can boost the odds that your input will be used. A side benefit is that, since you’ve actually documented your response you’re more likely to be quoted accurately.”
Ryan Stewman, Break Free Academy
Ryan Stewman, founder of Break Free Academy, reports that the two most important things for him are consistency and delivering value. He says:
“I’ve been using HARO for three years now. I answer one to two email queries daily. If you add it up, that’s 700 or so opportunities per year to get published from HARO.”
When it comes to getting published, Stewman says his experience as a source is to “give the reporter the information they are looking for.”
“Most people fail to get published because they made their replies about themselves, instead of about the needs of the reporter. The key to getting the most out of HARO is to consistently answer queries daily, and answer them according to what you think the reporter wants information on, not about yourself.”
Key takeaways and next steps
To close things out, I’ve rounded out some final tips to get your business featured in the media using HARO:
- Don’t wait. Start learning how to use Haro right away. There are hundreds of opportunities every week, and your business might have the exact insights journalists (like me) are looking for.
- Give thorough and valuable responses. Read queries carefully and answer all questions appropriately. If you want to get selected, holding back won’t do you any good.
- Answer truthfully and don’t hype yourself up. No one likes to find out their source isn’t as amazing as they claim to be. It’s also a quick way to land yourself on a blacklist for many websites.
- Have a bio and headshot ready. Many journalists will want to feature your information alongside your quote or answer to a query.
- Don’t forget to include contact information. Add this to your emails in case a journalist wants to follow-up.
- Keep pitching via source requests. You never know who is looking for a source, or which pitches will be selected.
What are you waiting for? Sign up for HARO and start working on getting your business in the news today!
Finance & Accounting
4 tips to find the funding that fits your business
The facts are clear: Startups are finding funding increasingly difficult to secure, and even unicorns appear cornered, with many lacking both capital and a clear exit.
But equity rounds aren’t the only way for a company to raise money — alternative and other non-dilutive financing options are often overlooked. Taking on debt might be the right solution when you’re focused on growth and can see clear ROI from the capital you deploy.
Not all capital providers are equal, so seeking financing isn’t just about securing capital. It’s a matter of finding the right source of funding that matches both your business and your roadmap.
Here are four things you should consider:
Does this match my needs?
It’s easy to take for granted, but securing financing begins with a business plan. Don’t seek funding until you have a clear plan for how you’ll use it. For example, do you need capital to fund growth or for your day-to-day operations? The answer should influence not only the amount of capital you seek, but the type of funding partner you look for as well.
Start with a concrete plan and make sure it aligns with the structure of your financing:
- Match repayment terms to your expected use of the debt.
- Balance working capital needs with growth capital needs.
It’s understandable to hope for a one-and-done financing process that sets the next round far down the line, but that may be costlier than you realize in the long run.
Your term of repayment must be long enough so you can deploy the capital and see the returns. If it’s not, you may end up making loan payments with the principal.
Say, for example, you secure funding to enter a new market. You plan to expand your sales team to support the move and develop the cash flow necessary to pay back the loan. The problem here is, the new hire will take months to ramp up.
If there’s not enough delta between when you start ramping up and when you begin repayments, you’ll be paying back the loan before your new salesperson can bring in revenue to allow you to see ROI on the amount you borrowed.
Another issue to keep in mind: If you’re financing operations instead of growth, working capital requirements may reduce the amount you can deploy.
Let’s say you finance your ad spending and plan to deploy $200,000 over the next four months. But payments on the MCA loan you secured to fund that spending will eat into your revenue, and the loan will be further limited by a minimum cash covenant of $100,000. The result? You secured $200,000 in financing but can only deploy half of it.
With $100,000 of your financing kept in a cash account, only half the loan will be used to drive operations, which means you’re not likely to meet your growth target. What’s worse, as you’re only able to deploy half of the loan, your cost of capital is effectively double what you’d planned for.
Is this the right amount for me at this time?
The second consideration is balancing how much capital you need to act on your near-term goals against what you can reasonably expect to secure. If the funding amount you can get is not enough to move the needle, it might not be worth the effort required.
Growing a Business
5 Simple Tips to Grow Your Business the Best Way
To achieve success in your business, you need to be ready to keep it growing. You can’t just treat your business with no passion and with no goal for further growth. It’s best for you to grow and expand your business, even though it’s just one small step at a time.
Here are 5 simple tips to grow your business the best way:
1. Expand Your Business Promotion
It’s important for you to expand your business promotion further, so that you can attract new customers to your business. You can do this in various ways, such as by running promotional campaigns on social media, spreading flyers and pamphlets around your local area, offering free bonuses to your customers, and so on.
By expanding your business promotion, you will expand the target audience for your business, meaning that you can increase your potential revenues from time to time.
2. Improve the Quality of Your Products and Services
The best way for you to grow your business is to improve the quality of your products and services. The more you can provide the best products and services to your customers, the more your customers will recommend your business to their friends and family.
This is the best way for you to attract more customers through word-of-mouth marketing.
3. Improve Your Customer Service Quality
Another aspect you need to improve in your business is the customer service quality. Your customers will rely on your customer service team to help them solve their problems with your products or services.
The better you can handle the customer’s problems, the more they will trust your business. Also, the more trustworthy your business, the more people will come to your business and use your products and services.
4. Increase Your Business Productivity
You also need to increase your business productivity, which will allow you to use your work hours in the most efficient way, both for you and your employees. The more productive you are in your business, the more tasks you can complete each day, and the better the results you will get.
Increasing your business productivity also means to stop wasting your time on doing unnecessary things. For instance, when you invest on a money counter from Ribao Technology. you can avoid the loss of counterfeit bills and stop wasting your time counting for the money you have received in your business, as you can get it done much faster by using a money counter machine.
5. Establish a Strong Online Presence
Nowadays, it’s important for you to have a strong online presence. You can do it by building a social media account for your business, and you can also build your own business website. By establishing a strong online presence, it will make it easier for people to get to know about your business.
You also need to make your business available online to make it easier for anyone to order your products and services. This is one of the best ways to grow your business.
Are you ready to grow and expand your business?
Follow these tips to get better at growing your business and increasing your business revenues. Take it one step at a time and make growing your business your biggest long-term goal to achieve.
Common SEO Mistakes That You Should Avoid
There are a number of great strategies that businesses can use when aiming to improve the performance of their SEO campaign, working to increase their online visibility and boost the amount of traffic being directed towards their website. However, it is not uncommon to find that many of these optimisation approaches could actually be causing your site more harm than good.
Of course, a wide variety of the of the search engine optimisation tactics that can be found on line will prove to be highly valuable resources, but trusting all of the tips and tricks that you come across could have adverse effects for your campaign, especially if the content that you are reading details out of date practices.
In the article below, we will discuss some of the most commonly seen mistakes made within SEO, helping you to avoid unnecessary damage to the performance of your company website.
Your Site Lacks Quality Backlinks
The creation of quality backlinks to your business page from reputable, high authority external sites is an extremely popular SEO management recommendation, these aforementioned links playing a vital role in the improvement of many aspects of your campaign.
Link building is a great off-page optimisation technique, allowing you to build the authority of your company website as a way to improve your ranking position within the organic search results. This is a must for any business looking to improve their online visibility or brand recognition, meaning that their website will be shown to a wider target audience and will thus see a boost in overall traffic and sales as a result.
While the creation of links leading back to your website from various external sources is vital for the optimisation and management for your SEO campaign, the quality and relevance of these backlinks is also a factor of great importance. If you are aiming to rank well within the search engine results (which is a goal that all businesses should strive towards!), the links that you are forming should be of a high quality and relevance to the industry in which your company operates.
The overall quality of the sites that your business is linking to can have a knock-on effect on the performance of your own website. Forming backlinks with sites that are completely irrelevant to your field, or those known for their poor reputation, will do more to hinder your website than help it. Associating your brand with poor quality pages will affect the authority of your own company website, and should thus be avoided at all costs.
Your Site Misuses Outbound Links
Outbound links are something that are often avoided completely within modern day SEO strategies, being the reason as to why so many marketing experts would now consider guest posting to be an ineffective and outdated technique. However, this is far from the truth, and is actually one of the many common misconceptions within SEO.
While filling your site’s main navigational channels with endless external links is not a recommended practice and would definitely cause some issues for the performance of your SEO campaign, this does not mean that outbound links should be avoided altogether. Creating natural links within your on-page content to reputable sources that provide your readers with additional information is actually a great way to enrich the blog articles and landing pages that you publish to your website. This will cause no damage to your brand’s SEO campaign, but can actually assist in the improvement of your authority and reputation.
The issue with outbound links comes not with their use on your company website, but in how they are used, as the placement of such links will play a vital role in whether this common SEO practice will either help or hurt your online presence. Any outbound links that you choose to feature on your site should occur naturally within the on-page content that is presented to your customer base.
Whether it be your landing page content or a blog post, links should only be placed if and where it makes sense to do so. Placing outbound links randomly throughout your text or all in one place is considered bad practice, increasing the likelihood that your content be picked up as spam and your site ultimately be penalised by the search engines.
To avoid outbound links negatively impacting the quality score and performance of your website, links should only be placed as and when it makes sense to do so, using these to provide readers with additional information that will enrich the text published to your company website. As with link building, the quality and reputation of the websites that you link to will impact the authority of your own business site, so it’s important that your brand avoids linking to pages that could harm your domain.
The setup and maintenance of a successful search engine optimisation campaign can be a difficult, and sometimes even daunting, task for those who find themselves unsure of where to start. With so many different strategies claiming to provide the best tactics for effective website optimisation, how do you know which advice you can trust?
Luckily, there are a number of highly reputable online SEO courses made readily available to entrepreneurs across the globe, providing expert advice and a helping hand to those looking to optimise their business’ online presence.
SEO is an excellent tool for improving your ranking position and visibility within the organic search results, but it’s vital that your campaign is managed correctly, helping you to avoid any unnecessary mistakes!
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