If you have never heard of HARO (Help a reporter out) then you owe it yourself to check it out. HARO, created by Peter Shankman, puts reporters and sources together in a very effective way. Once you sign up (for free!), you’ll get daily e-mails with reporters requests for sources and you can reply directly with your pitches. You can also follow HARO on twitter @helpareporter.
Last week I participated in the “How to Pitch a HARO Reporter” conference call featuring reporters from the WSJ, USA Today, AOL News and Crain Business. Here are some of the great tips from the call:
- Most reporters want pitches via e-mail (not via phone and not via twitter).
- Know what the reporter writes about – do your homework before you send the pitch
- Subject line is key – short & sweet indicating what your pitch is about
- “Exclusive” in subject line will get attention – BUT only if it’s truly exclusive!
- Misspellings are annoying – check and double check before hitting the send button.
- Initial pitch should be short, interesting and on target, don’t include attachments. If reporter is interested they’ll come back and ask for more info.
- Use bullet points – why newsy, why now; is your pitch related to a broader trend or related to a current news story?
- If you include a link in your e-mail pitch, make sure you explain what it is; if you can’t explain don’t expect reporter to click on it.
- The traditional press release is not going to get you coverage – usually old news by the time it’s read.