How to Pitch the Strike Zone at HARO
Today HARO, the free service for PR pros and journos alike, helping them to connect on story pitches, is celebrating its two-year birthday. Peter Shankman, the boy wonder behind the service, has invested and invented something that is giving ProfNet (a fee-based competitive service), dry ice in their boots. A paid-for service can never truly compete with a free service, if both are at parity. HARO generates a lot of bread for hungry PR mouths more so than does ProfNet. Then there is PR Source Code, which pushes editorial calendars into your inbox. That service is inexpensive, underrated, and a big time saver.
HARO is a phenomenon in the PR world. Anyone can sign up. Shankman, whose book on publicity stunts I found wildly entertaining and provocative, is a man constantly on the move. I get exhausted just reading about his travel schedule.
HARO has a subscriber base of some 100,000, which it calls “sources.” Sources that offer expert sources for the 30,000 journos that query for them. With so much noise on that tube, how does a savvy pitcher get into the strike zone? Easier than you think. Your first mistake is lack of brevity. Don’t email the reporter your client’s annual report. Less is more. Get right to the point. List credentials. Make your client sound impressive. Use facts, not marcom-speak. Never be selling. Always be closing. Don’t waste their time.
If you want to know why the press is ignoring your pitches, simply post your own query for sources. You will get many responses from PR shops. You will see why PR gets such a bad rap from the press.