You’ve scoured Google for the best tips on how to get a reporter’s attention and how to build relationships with these people. If they’re so busy all the time, how am I supposed to get their attention? How do I build these relationships and where are they all hiding? When I jumped into PR a few months ago, it was communicated to me very clearly that relationship building with reporters was very important. But I hadn’t a clue as to how to go about doing this. Thus was born two amazing tactics. HARO and #JournoRequest. *Angel choir singing*
Here it is, the real beginning to those relationships we dreamt about in our dorm room beds before slipping into a deep sleep.
How do you start building relationships with reporters for PR? Find out! Click To Tweet
How I met my HARO
For those of you who are unaware, HARO is an acronym for Help A Reporter Out. And the definition presents itself in the title. HARO is quite literally a website for reporters looking for help with short deadlines on stories for publications varying from small magazines, niche blogs, newspapers, everything fit to print. You do need to set up an account to be able to respond to these queries, but about 5 times a day, HARO buffers out a long list of queries submitted by reporters for anyone to pick up. Reporters will specify the topic, questions they want an answer to, the length of response they’re looking for and requirements such as profession or level of expertise they expect from the responder.
These queries are sectioned into categories like lifestyle, workplace, science, sports and everything else under the sun. With an account, you can respond to whatever query you deem yourself an expert on (or your client). The trick to responding is the actual pitch part. These queries are for brand new, unwritten articles for informative publications. Think like a reader. When you pick up a magazine or click on a blog, you want the most timely, accurate and helpful advice, right? So provide that in the most concise way possible. When crafting any response to a reporter, think about the 7 elements of newsworthiness:
- Possible Future Impact
- Human Interest
If you can’t craft a response that hits at least two of these elements, the reporter isn’t going to consider your response for publication.
Generally, reporters want a quick quote or 3-5 sentences to sum up what they asked about. Remember, they’re writing the story, your response acts as professional support or a little extra suga’ on the side. Don’t try to steal the show or put reporters in their place. Reporters are incredibly sharp-witted people. Respect them, give them exactly what they ask for to the T, nothing more, nothing less. This is serious biz!
Here’s My Handle, Tweet Me, Maybe?
You thought crafting a 3-5 sentence response was hard? Here’s a game-changer for you. Many seasoned PR practitioners recommend making social connections with reporters on Twitter. How? Oh, hello, #JournoRequest. It’s the freebie, no account necessary (well…besides the Twitter part) version of HARO. Log into your Twitter account and search this hashtag to discover HARO’esque queries posted by journalists all over the world. The downside? These aren’t categorized and easily searchable like HAROs. These less formal queries give anyone the opportunity to take the advice I gave above about outreach and test out your blurb writin’ skills!
The biggest takeaway when reaching out to reporters is to respect the reporters time, respond according to their deadlines, not yours, and give them the most accurate, clear and concise message they’ve ever seen. Don’t forget to either very briefly explain who you are, and how to contact you. Leave a Twitter handle behind so they have a way to tweet at you when necessary. Keep your eyes peeled on your DM inbox and be active on your Twitter channel so they know you’re a reliable source who won’t go radio silent if they have any follow-up questions.
There’s a lot of tiny, time-sensitive rules when it comes to reaching out to these busy bees. Make yourself a checklist so you can easily zip down the line the next time you find a query you want to jump on. Keep crafting until you hit the jackpot!