If you’re looking to get more free publicity for the work that you do, HARO is a great way to do that for free. If you haven’t already signed up, do so as at Helpareporter.com as a source. Queries will start to flood your inbox daily. Responding with a catchy pitch can possibly allow you to be a source for an upcoming article, podcast or other form of media coverage. If you’re just starting out or haven’t had much luck, here are some tips to increase your chances of getting selected.
1. Act like a girl scout.
After completing certain requirements, scouts get to add badges to their clothing as a way to show their accomplishments. First aid, camping and being a good citizen give them some bragging rights and street cred. Others can see these awe-inspiring achievements at a glance when they wear their scout clothing. The more badges they have, the more impressive they appear.
While you don’t necessarily want to show off what you’ve successfully completed on a tunic, sash or vest like a girl scout, you do want to pick up media mentions to attract attention to the work that you do. One way to improve your presence as an authority is to get mentioned on top media outlets. Adding these media mentions to your website, resume or Linkedin profile looks impressive and can be. It can boost your trust factor when someone is deciding whether or not to work with you.
If you don’t have any media mentions yet, showcase any other accomplishments when you pitch. Think about writing them under your name. Put your title under your name in the closing of the email, a link to your website (if you have one), appropriate social media profiles or anything else worth mentioning. If you won an award, add that too. It shows you’re credible and the writer won’t have to take as much time to vet you. If they’re just one click away from reading about you, they can more readily check if you’re credible. It makes their job easier. And, the easier you make it for them, the easier it is for them to pick you.
2. Don’t send off-topic or inappropriate pitches.
When you pitch unrelated issues in response to queries, you risk angering the person in charge. Also, if you want people to value your time, value their time. Writer’s have deadlines and need to weed through tons of pitches to start gathering information for their articles. Unrelated information makes their job harder. You don’t want your first impression to be a bad one. That won’t get you your free publicity. You also don’t want to turn people off to working with you in the future. Be sure to read the query thoroughly before responding. If it helps, cut and paste their request into your email so you won’t forget the specifics. You can delete it once you’ve finished answering the questions as best you can before sending it.
3. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.
Writers get incredibly jaded and especially put off by people who answer queries when the topic truly isn’t in their wheelhouse. Once again, you are wasting their time and you are coming off as untrustworthy. Another way to leave a bad impression. If they are asking for 5 gluten free pancake recipes, don’t send them ones about waffles. If they are asking about how to set savings goals using Capital One 360, don’t send them information about how you save with Wells Fargo Bank.
I think part of it has to do with feeling rushed to send your pitch because you know you’re competing with a ton of other people. While you do want to act quickly, be sure to carefully read through the query a second time before proceeding. The title might sound general but if you don’t fit the requirements in the description, there’s no sense responding.
Here’s an imaginary query with a response below it where the person meets the requirements.
Sample query for free publicity:
In honor of Earth Day, we’re looking for professionals in science-related fields to share tips on easy ways to find recycled items for science fiction and superhero fans — gently used items people can use to reduce the amount of post consumer waste.
Please reply with your credentials and 2-3 tips. Will follow up if you’re a good fit. Thanks!
If the person on your list is a superhero buff, consider getting them a distressed, upcycled Batman and Superman T-shirts. Trekkie fans can enjoy Klingon Boggle time and time again in the privacy of their own home with friends by purchasing it on Ebay. Star Wars lovers will get a kick out of gently used light sabers like Luke’s pale blue one before it was digitally remastered or unopened Darth Vader sheets originally sold at Pottery Barn on Craigslist. These are foolproof tips to keep the recipient happy for light years to come while being kind to Mother Earth.
Live Long and Prosper,
Sheldon Lee Cooper
The Bottom Line
There are a number of ways to get free publicity. Using HARO is a free way to get media coverage. Showcase yourself in the best way possible when answering queries. Link to anything that can showcase your expertise. Be sure to stay on topic and answer queries that fit your area of expertise. This way you’ll increase the likelihood of getting picked. Scouts honor.