Are you sharing your brand with the masses? If even the thought of that idea makes you hug tighter to your checkbook, you’re not alone. Advertising can be expensive—especially for the little guys. But what if you could get free press coverage?
When you hear “press coverage,” you likely think of PR, or public relations. Of course, hiring a PR firm to get you in newspapers, books, radio, or television is another expensive endeavor. However, did you see that great word there: FREE? Yep, there’s a free press coverage option available to you and everyone else in the world, and it’s called HARO.
HARO: The Definition of Free Press Coverage
HARO, which stands for Help a Reporter Out, links journalists and news outlets to businesses and individuals through regular email leads. It was started in 2008 by Peter Shankman as a Facebook group. It soon moved onto its own website and built a mailing list in the hundreds of thousands of free subscribers. HARO is such a big deal that, in 2010, Vocus bought the site. (In case you’re unfamiliar, Vocus also owns PR Web. They’re also now known as Cision.) While Cision did add some fee-based subscriptions to HARO, it essentially remained as it always had been.
Since you can access HARO free of charge, all you need to do is go to the website and subscribe. You can choose the specific lists to which you subscribe or get all of them. Then you just wait for the emails. They’re sent to your inbox three times daily on weekdays (except bank holidays). You then review all of the leads and see which is for you.
Differentiate Yourself with Good Replies
The lists you receive in the HARO emails are called queries. When you respond, your answer is channeled through HARO and then passed along to the reporter. As you can imagine, reporters receive a number of answers to their queries. You want free press coverage—not just to spend a lot of time answering queries and getting nowhere. What you need to have is a good reply.
Here are some hints to differentiate your responses:
- Follow directions in the query.
- Provide an answer in a quotable snippet.
- Do not refer the reporter to a video, website, blog you wrote, or attachment. In fact, most attachments won’t even go through.
- Include your contact information. Sometimes, that means a photo, so have one online that you can link to, if the reporter has requested it.
SharpRocket has created a complete how-to article for setting up and leveraging HARO. This might be a good read if you’d like a step-by-step guide.
Other Avenues for Free Press
While HARO mostly has the market on free press coverage, there are other options. However, keep in mind that they will take a bit more time and aren’t as well presented in a nice little box in your email.
Reach Out to Local Media
If you have a great story to share, local media will probably want to hear about it. Most TV, radio, and newspaper outlets have a general email to receive leads. Reach out to these emails directly when you have a story. As with submitting a HARO response, make sure your presentation is succinct and newsworthy. And if you’re emailing, include a catchy subject line.
Submit Your Own Press Release
There’s no rule stating you can’t write your own press release. You can use an online press release template to get all of the details straight. Then you can post the release right on your website, using SEO to help get it seen. You can also use a distribution service to get your news out to the right outlets. No doubt someone is going to want to share your information.
Do Something for the Community
When you are involved in community service, there’s a good chance the media will be involved, especially if it’s something big. Your company can be a sponsor, which puts you firmly in the spotlight. Have your team build a home for Habitat for Humanity. Hand out water at a marathon. The options are endless. And this is also a great opportunity for a press release of your own.
Host a Grand Opening or Ribbon Cutting
If you are moving locations or opening a new location, this is the perfect time for some free press coverage. A ribbon cutting or grand opening always brings in media. Plus, you can partner with a local chamber of commerce to ensure you have a good turnout.
Need Help with Securing Free Press Coverage?
While Ink & Quill Communications is not a public relations firm, we are a content marketing firm. As such, we create press releases and write responses for media queries. We also develop the strategy for creating excitement around a brand. Ready to get more brand awareness? Let’s talk.