What’s the best way to respond to a HARO query?

Photo by Roberto Rizzato

Last week, I posted a query on HARO (Help A Reporter Out), an invaluable service that connects writers like myself with sources for articles. I was looking for future story ideas for a new green building publication I was writing for.

I was deluged with replies. 86 and counting. Another response from another PR manager popped in my inbox yesterday. Normally, I would receive about 5-10 solid leads. But everyone from PR firms to construction executives to authors responded this time around. In fact, I’m still culling through my list. There were some solid leads in there, as well as the bad and even downright ugly.

If you want to win me or another journalist over and convince us to interview you or your client for an article, just follow these simple tips and you can’t go wrong.

Please Don’t Call.  There’s a reason why most reporters don’t include their phone numbers in a query. Would you like to answer 86 phone calls in a day?  Many journalists are busy and usually working on a deadline. So they don’t have the time to take your call. So when you call, they view that as a disruption. Some, like myself, will listen politely to what you have to say, but don’t expect them to set up an interview with you.

Answer the Question, Claire. Most queries include specific questions that need answered. If I asked a question in a query, I prefer to get an email response. You’ll increase the likelihood that I will use your client as a source. First, giving me a response to my questions will give me an indication of what kind of interviewee you or your client will be. Secondly, it saves time. If I like your comments and think you’re a perfect fit, I’ll probably use your quote as-is, sometimes altering it slightly after speaking with you or your client.

Stick to the Topic. If I’m writing an article on how ocean wave energy compares to other renewable resources, and you talk to me about your product is great for combat, you’ll probably not be quoted.

Get the Person’s Name Right. For the last five years, I have been receiving a press release from a book publisher in New York City about every couple weeks.  The PR agent has addressed me as Danielle every single time. I asked her to correct it. And she did, and the next week she called me by the right name. However, the next release and every single other one since then still addresses me as Danielle. In my last HARO announcement, I was addressed as Daniela. You’ve already irked me that you can’t spell my name right, so why should I give you the courtesy of an interview?

Do you have advice you can share that will improve your chances of getting a reporter to call or email you back? Please share!

As a full-time freelance writer, Daniel Casciato helps clients prosper by writing clear, concise,  and effective content for blogs, brochures, newsletters, Web sites, and other marketing collateral. He also writes health, legal, real estate, and technology-related articles for trade magazines and online publications. For more information, visit www.danielcasciato.com, follow him on Twitter, or friend him on Facebook




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About Daniel Casciato

Daniel Casciato has his own business as a social media consultant, freelance copywriter, ghostwriter, and ghostblogger. The Pittsburgh native loves his Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates. Learn more about him at www.DanielCasciato.com.

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