Today, I want to share my first experience of inquiring on HARO (Help a Reporter Out), “the most popular sourcing service in the English-speaking world, connecting journalists with relevant expert sources to meet journalists’ demanding deadlines and enable brands to tell their stories” (according to the website’s self-description).

HARO distributes more than 50,000 queries every year, reaching more than 475,000 sources and 35,000 journalists. Any person or business can subscribe to the service to receive three emails a day, Monday through Friday at 5:35 a.m., 12:35 p.m. and 5:35 p.m. EST with lists of media requests. It allows freelancers and startup founders to eliminate an expensive middleman and to talk to journalists and bloggers directly. It also helps journalists to find diverse sources of information in a very short period of time.

So, I was looking for a couple of stories to add to my blog post. I was pleasantly surprised by the speed of the HARO’s editorial approval process: after submitting the query a little after 11 am, I saw it included in the same day afternoon list. Here are some numbers:

• I received 66 pitches.
• Almost half of them came within the first 30 min. after the HARO email went out.
• More than half of the pitches were sent by PR firms.

My frustrations:

• The vast majority of the pitches were as long as essays. It took me much more time than I expected to read through all of them.
• Even many PR firms sent ridiculously long pitches (500+ words), which looked like standard letters not even customized to my query.
• Approximately 40% of the pitches were very generic and didn’t really answer my question.
• Less than 25% of the respondents followed my request regarding the information which should be included in the pitch.

My suggestions:

• Read the request and answer the question. Be specific.
• Make it short: one paragraph with a link to additional information is enough for a journalist to decide if it’s worth their time to learn more about you.
• Include required information.
• Be unique.
• Be professional: proofread your pitch and show the journalist that your goal is to make their job easy. Provide your contact information.

My major discovery:

I found more than a couple of stories worth telling. While I have everything I need to finish my blog post, the pitches helped me to generate several other future article ideas. Reading about different businesses, I’ve learned some information which will be useful for my daily life.


I am glad I tried it. I will be back for new “hidden gems” and inspiration.

The post first published on Linkedin Pulse.