Your online presence is very important in today’s world. As you take your Internet marketing to the next level, you need to find ways to build your online presence. You need to be findable — and you need to be top of mind when someone needs something in your field.

Even when you are trying to grow your business, you need to grow your personal brand online. Who you are matters, and your personal brand can provide you with a way to shine the spotlight on your company as well.

As you work to build your online presence, one of the best resources out there is Help a Report Out (HARO). If you want to be featured in traditional as well as non-traditional outlets, and if you want to establish yourself as an expert, HARO can help.

What is HARO?

HARO is a place for journalists and others to find sources for stories. As a freelance journalist, I know the frustration of trying to locate someone who offers the perfect insight for a story I’m working on. Even though I have a pretty large Rolodex of contacts and potential sources, there are times when I just need a quick quote or I find myself stuck.

When this happens, I can turn to HARO and usually find someone who will work well for my story. With HARO, journalists and others put out calls for experts who can help out. Some of the publications that turn to HARO for help include Fox News, Reuters, Mashable, The New York Times, ABC and The Globe and Mail. There are plenty of other media outlets and high-profile bloggers and content creators looking for knowledgeable sources and thought leaders to provide quotes, insights and be guests on podcasts and TV shows.

It doesn’t cost you anything to sign up as a source, and you can answer queries that fit your area of expertise. The main downside to HARO is that you end up vying with others to be chosen as someone used as a resource. With the right approach, however, you can increase the chances that you will be picked — and this in turn can help you build your online presence.

How to Answer HARO Queries

When you are ready to offer yourself as an expert and build your credibility, there are a few things you can do to ensure that you are more likely to be chosen as an expert source or guest:

  • Be one of the first to answer: The faster you answer, especially for urgent requests, the more likely you are to be chosen as the expert. HARO queries are released close to the same times each day. Be aware of when these times are, and check your inbox. You can gain a bigger edge if you are willing to pay to have the leads sent to your inbox ahead of the general release. Finally, follow HARO on Twitter. Some of the most urgent requests go there first and you can jump in quickly if you see them.
  • Understand the query: Read through the query a couple of times to make sure you understand what the journalist is asking for. You need to make sure that you can present yourself as a good match, as well as fulfill the requirements asked for.
  • Address the query: Unless the query is just asking for people with certain qualifications, don’t respond with a long list of your credentials. Briefly state who you are and why you’re qualified to comment. Then address the query. If the request is for some quick tips, offer quick tips. If the request is for an interview, offer three to five sentences about what you can discuss, including at least one valuable nugget. You want to be relevant and useful so that even if the journalist doesn’t call you, s/he might still quote you.
  • Assume the journalist might quote you: While many journalists let sources know when they are planning on using a quote you provide, it doesn’t always happen that way. Be careful about the information you provide, and then keep track of your mentions (Google alerts is a good tool) to see if you have been quoted. If you have been, you can reach out the journalist to say thanks and share on your own social media channels.
  • Persistence is key: It might take several tries before you are quoted or asked for an interview. Keep at it, though. If you are targeted in your approach to answering queries and you offer good information, eventually you will be used. Once you are used, you will have the social proof to increase your chances of other interviews and further build your online presence.

While HARO shouldn’t be your only effort to build your online presence, it can be a good part of raising your visibility and boosting your creditbility.

I'm Miranda and I'm a freelance financial journalist and money expert. My specialties are investing, small business/entrepreneurship and personal finance. The journey to business success and financial freedom is best undertaken with fellow travelers.

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