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Getting quoted in the media is one of the most effective ways for lawyers to raise their profile, gain credibility as a thought leader and attract clients. However, you may not have the time to cultivate relationships with the press or the budget to hire a PR firm. Help A Reporter Out — HARO — is a shortcut to free publicity and can be a powerful marketing tool.
HARO is a platform that connects journalists to sources for their stories, distributing over 50,000 journalist queries from respected media outlets each year.
Pitching a reporter can be an intimidating process, and many HARO queries receive hundreds of responses per day. How can you capture the attention of journalists and build relationships with the media? Over the past 12 years, I have used HARO as both a journalist and an expert source. HARO has helped me secure press mentions in leading media outlets such as The New York Times, Business Insider and Psychology Today. Here are five tips to help you do the same.
HARO sends requests to your email inbox three times a day, Monday-Friday: at 5:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. ET. Since HARO queries receive so many responses, it is important to send your pitch as quickly as possible so it does not get buried in a sea of other responses.
How quickly do you need to respond? Responding within the first half-hour is ideal. A same-day response is important. If you do not have time to answer the query that day, it is best to move on.
Be sure to double-check the reporter’s deadline, which is always listed in the query. Some deadlines are set only a few hours after HARO sends the request.
In your HARO response, it is important to answer the writer’s questions and prompts specifically and directly. In most cases, you want to keep your entire response at 150 words or less. This is not the forum for lengthy, complex responses. Tailor your response to the query, avoiding answers that may appear generic or templated. Include your answers and tips in the pitch itself so all the information the journalist needs is right in front of him.
Do not link to your response, request an interview or require that the journalist contact you by phone or email to gain the information. The goal is to make the reporter’s job as easy as possible.
A soundbite is a brief statement or phrase that is memorable and relevant. Journalists love soundbites because they are quotable and allow the writer to pull the most important bits of information you have provided to weave into their story. When a query asks for tips, I generally list three to five tips along with a short explanation of each. The journalist may choose one of your tips or print all of them.
Pitching HARO is a numbers game; the more pitches you submit, the better your chances of getting quoted. To streamline the process, it is a good idea to create a pitch template that contains the basic elements needed in every pitch.
My pitch template includes a greeting, my bio (I have several bios, depending on the pitch), my contact information and my social media information. In the body of your pitch, break up the text with headlines, short paragraphs and bulleted or numbered items to make it easier to scan. You should also include a link to your website or blog, since backlinks can help drive traffic to your site.
Many queries require a headshot so it is also important to have a quality headshot that you can send via email or link to online.
Not all your HARO pitches will get accepted, but that does not mean you have wasted your efforts. You can recycle your responses into blog posts, client tips, articles, SlideShare presentations, short videos and other content assets.
Capturing the attention of journalists is not easy, but these tips can help you get your pitch noticed, build relationships with the media and establish yourself as a thought leader in your practice niche.
Sally Kane is a lawyer, writer and legal marketing consultant for PaperStreet, a digital marketing agency for law firms. She has been writing on law practice marketing and management topics since 2004 and has published over 100 articles in various legal media outlets, including Vault.com, Legal Management, Law Practice Today, The Legal Intelligencer and Student Lawyer. Previously she served as editor-in-chief of a national legal magazine and as a legal careers expert for About.com. Follow her on Twitter @sallyannekane.
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