What Is HARO and How It Works

by Thomas Sorheim Danielsen | Last Updated: 23/07/2021

The shift to online journalism requires journalists to churn out stories at an increasing rate. Journalists need information about, ideas on, and resources for their stories.

Having a service that aids journalists in their work and helps them reach their KPIs (Key Performance Indicator) is a must. 

This is where HARO comes in!

What is HARO?

In short, HARO is a service that connects journalists with sources for stories.

HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.

And that is exactly what you do; help reporters produce content. 

A journalist submits a request for sources on a topic to HARO. The service will then aggregate all these requests in an email that is sent out to the sources. 

There are no special requirements for sources, other than that you are an expert in your field, or have knowledge or experience with the topic in question.

What is a HARO request?

A HARO request refers to the actual request the individual journalists submit to the service. 

HARO will send out 3 emails per working day with these requests aggregated. In the morning, noon, and evening. 

The requests include:

This is how a typical email looks like:

Screen shot of a HARO request overview

This is what a HARO request looks like:

Screenshot of a HARO request

In each email, you will find anywhere from around 70 to 300 requests for stories, quotes, opinions, experiences, interviews, podcast guests, and even the odd TV appearance. 

HARO offers a unique opportunity for companies or brands to get exposed to large media outlets like Reuters, TIME, Wall Street Journal, Fox News, and many more. 

Screenshot of media outlets using HARO

HARO is a win-win for both journalists and businesses/brands. 

How much does HARO cost?

It is almost too good to be true, but HARO is actually free! 

All you have to do is sign up and you are off to the races! 

NB! You can see the whole signup process further down in the article.

HARO has paid tiers that may save you a bit of time with keyword alerts and more. Depending on the tier you sign up for, they even give you what they call a “Head Start”, where you get instant notifications when requests for comments are approved.  

Basically, you get all that you need for free, but $49 a month will give you an opportunity to get in front of the pack. 

HARO link building in and of itself does not really cost money. However, it requires both the right format, speed, and time to actually do the mundane work.

If this is something you do not wish to do yourself, or simply do not have the time to do it, we offer HARO Link Building services.

Who is HARO for?

For both new and established brands/companies, getting exposure in the media is hard. 

PR itself requires routine, skills, network, and knowledge. And even then, the timing must be right, in order to have a fighting chance of catching the journalists’ attention! 

In comes HARO. 

HARO is a powerful and scalable way to build brand awareness, trust, and identity. And lest not forget a very powerful link-building strategy. 

Building backlinks and earning exposure in the media merge SEO and traditional PR, and thus falls under what is generally known as Digital PR. 

Sniperlinks.com offers HARO link building as one of our two services (the other is Manual Based Outreach Link Building).

What is HARO SEO?

HARO SEO is the process of utilizing HARO for your off-page SEO efforts.

Or said in a clearer manner, it is the tactic of building backlinks to your website using HARO. 

How many people use HARO?

Backlinks are still one of the 3 most important ranking factors in Google. 

With increased competition in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page), getting your SEO right is key. And where backlinks are digital gold, the gold rush has long started. 

The constant need, and hunt for high-quality links to rank in Google, combined with an ever-increasing demand on journalists to produce content fast, has seen services like HARO soar. 

According to Cision, the owner of HARO, there are now over 1 million sources and over 75 000 journalists and bloggers registered on the platform. 

Although there are alternatives, it is fair to say that HARO is the leading service in the market. And thus, where you want to be! 

Screenshot of how many users HARO has

How do you respond to HARO?

In our opinion, there are 3 key factors for success with HARO:

1. Timeliness of your answer

Answers within the first two hours of the email arriving in your inbox will generally see a higher conversion. Answer after 2 hours and you enter the “dead-zone”. Now your conversion (success) will suffer and you may as well not answer at all.

It actually does not matter if the journalist says there is a 24h or 48h deadline. Being “first” simply yields better results. 

If you are an “extreme subject matter expert” in your field, and your answer will add considerable weight to the article, you may allow yourself a longer time to answer. But again, the faster is always better!

2. What, and how you answer

It is not what you say, but how you say it. 

A journalist typically gets 200-300 email replies for each HARO request they put out. This alone underlines the first point – be first!

However, a busy journalist’s objective is to deliver the content on time and reach his/her KPIs. 

You need to lean into that fact and make sure your answer is as easy as possible for the journalist to include in her/his article. 

This means you must answer short and to the point. The answer should be 1 or 2 paragraphs max unless the journalists specifically ask for something else/longer. 

The answer needs to be “bite-size” and easy to cut’n’paste. Often journalists simply copy your answer into the article. The moral is; make it easy for them to use YOUR answer!

Important advice: cut all fluff! 

The only thing you should add before your reply to the query, “hello Name”, and a statement that shows that you have the expertise or is an authority in the field. 

Screenshot of an example email you would send a journalist for HARO

It goes without saying, but I will say it anyway: Your grammar must be on point!

Use a tool like Grammarly to eliminate stupid grammatical errors which may cost you coverage and a link!  

3. Form

As alluded to above, your email reply should follow the right form in order to increase your chance of success. 

Cut all the fluff, get to the point, and answer the question! 

Finish off with your name, title, link to your site, LinkedIn profile link, Twitter link if you have/use, and a Dropbox link (or similar) to a headshot. 

Journalists usually want an image when quoting you as a source, but HARO does not allow attachments. Therefore you absolutely need to send your headshots as a link. 

The format should be 200×200 or 400×400 (we usually use 400×400, it can be scaled down, while 200×200 cannot be scaled up). 

But before you respond to a HARO request, you need to register with them. In the next section, we will go through this process in detail.

How do you sign up for HARO

Instead of writing a full step-by-step instruction, we decided to simply record the process and show you instead. 

Watch the video to see how to sign up for, and start using HARO.