Free online PR tool helps connect your small business with reporters

by on February 17, 2012

Free online pr toolIf you’ve ever spent any time trying to connect with reporters and get some free pr for your small business, you know what a time consuming, and often frustrating experience it can be. Reporters are extremely busy people who get flooded with pitches – getting a response to your pitch is challenging. In most cases, your pitch doesn’t even get read in the first place.

But reporters do need sources.

Ever read a newspaper article on the topic of your business and wondered how the heck “fill-in-the-blank company” get featured? *Sigh* “Must be friends with the reporter or have some big PR/Marketing budget. If only I had that,” you might have thought.

Ever wish there was a way that you could find and connect with reporters that are actually actively looking to cover a topic or story related to your small business in some way, without having to shell out the big bucks for a pr consultant?

Enter HARO (stands for Help a Reporter Out) – a free online platform that collects information requests from reporters and makes the inquiries available to the general public.

It’s the largest free source repository in the world with over 1,200 queries a week. What is a query? It’s a question from a journalist, reporter, blogger, etc. looking for sources for their next article or piece. They could be looking to talk to anyone from a cheese expert to someone affected by the volatile real estate market…and everything in between! HARO has close to 30,000 journalists actively looking for leads.

The way it works is that you receive 3 emails a day with queries from journalists/major newspapers/tv news right down to small business blogs/authors. There is an email header summarizing the information requested. Take a quick 10 seconds to scan if it has anything to do with you. If yes, send a quick email to the address listed about why you’re an expert on the query and provide your contact info.

Tips for responding to HARO requests

  • Keep your responses simple. A few paragraphs should be plenty to get your message across – think short and sweet. Provide the contact details they need to find out more if they are interested. Reporters are super busy people. If you write an essay as your response, they are most likely not going to take the time to read it. Don’t add to their workload. And hey, don’t all us small biz owners agree that time is precious, so it’s great to be able to just drop a quick line and see if you get a bite!
  • Keep your responses straightforward. While it’s important to keep things simple, you do have to make it very clear why they should use you as a source. How are you particularly qualified to answer their specific query?
  • Don’t contact reporters about anything else but what they’re asking about. Anything else will be considered SPAM and ignored.
  • Respond quickly. Reporters work on really tight deadlines and have to turn around articles super fast. The faster you can respond, the greater chance you’ll have of actually getting a response.

To sign up, head to and click the “Become a Source” button. Simply enter in your contact information and you’re all set. This free subscription will send you media opportunities 3 times a day (and you can unsubscribe at any time).

Update and add to your account details

In your account details, you can set your location, as well as select specific industries you want to be notified about. There aren’t too many options available at the moment, however the folks at Haro are working to expand the list. If your industries are travel, business or lifestyle and fitness related, then make sure to select the option to get a special email with only queries related to those specific topics.

Local businesses and HARO

If your small business strictly serves its local market, ie. you don’t sell to anyone outside of your local area, then HARO is not an ideal tool for you. It would extend your reach far too broadly. In this case it’s better to target your local publications directly, and look to get in touch with the reporter that would be the most likely to cover your industry.


It’s important to realize that you aren’t going to be getting a ton of responses. Getting a response at all is a great, alebeit rare, thing. However, there are definitely opportunities to be had, so taking a sec to scan the emails when you have the time can prove to be worth it. Or pass the task on to an assistant.

Another free pr option

If this free tool really has you excited, you can also check out another similar option – Reporter Connection.  It operates pretty much the same way as HARO, but is just a little smaller.

HARO  is a great way for your small business to get further exposure, potentially connecting you with reporters/bloggers/news resources. You just might get the chance to tell your story, get your brand out there, and market your products or services!

 “Be excellent to each other. Try to help some people out to try to make this world a better place.” – Peter Shankman, HARO founder

Have you ever used HARO? What were your experiences? What are some of your other tricks for getting noticed in the media? Let’s hear it in the comments!

Comments, likes and tweets are always appreciated! Did I mention that I LOVE your feedback?

Image source:  renjith krishnan /

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Dan February 27, 2012 at 4:15 pm

Good stuff Martina, we have one in Australia called Source Bottle that does the same thing. I have replied a few times and have never got a reply before however last week I got a reply from a journalist for the first time. I’m not sure if it will lead anywhere yet but it’s worth a go.


Martina February 28, 2012 at 10:47 am

A response – how exciting! Fingers crossed that you’ll get your mention 🙂 Thanks for sharing the additional resource for Australia – here’s the link if anyone is interested:


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