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HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.
There are also many Help A Reporter Out alternatives available.
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Help A Reporter Out
We have been responding to the classic Help A Reporter Out email list for a while now.
We were contacted by a reporter from the Associated Press yesterday. This validated that their service seems to work. This was at no cost, but required us to be diligent about following their list, responding quickly and thoroughly.
Tips on how to get to the top of the list are coming soon - depending on the outcome of that interview.
Overview of Help A Reporter OutHelp A Reporter Out service connects public relations people with journalists who are looking to have certain stories covered in the Press.
It is a method that allows for two parties to rapidly find each other and complete work in a mutually beneficial way.
Here's exactly how it works.
Publishers: Publishers are typically looking for opportunities to put their clients in the news.
In the early days of public relations, PR people would rest on relationships with journalist for placing stories containing their clients’ business name.
Public Relations Specialist
Just a few years ago, you could not get a placement without a strong relationship with a specific reporter at a prominent newspaper.
The PR person would use this relationship repeatedly as they were seeking to get their clients in the news.
Clients very much want to be in the news because it helps their brand awareness.
In addition to awareness, Brands want to be represented in the news in a positive way.
In this fashion, PR people would often help with reputation management before the internet.
Much of this dynamic changed when the internet became prominent.
Public relations people started to need Outlets that were geared towards online audiences more than traditional newspapers and magazines.
Especially as Google gained prominence, the world of PR change dramatically.
Even in 2019, the pr industry has not fully adapted to the digital marketing age.
And that is where Service is like help a reporter out become a central task for online marketers.
Journalists: Again, from a historical perspective, journalists would often enjoy strong relationships with public relations people and would lean on these relationships when they needed to publish an in-depth story.
It was not uncommon for a PR firm to help a reporter prep a story, which would earn them favor 4 placing their client brand name in the story.
There were of course ethical concerns with these types of relationships which had to be navigated carefully.
Classics that's a cool conflicts of interest can be found in high-power situations such as the Washington Post and high-ranking officials at the White House.
As you can imagine, the dynamics got very complicated as you try to understand whether a story was truly newsworthy or was gaining traction with a journalist do to a relationship between a White House staffer and that newspaper.
The Digital Age Arrives
As the digital age evolved, many of the dynamics between the Press and Public Relations Firms has changed.
This is where Service is like help a reporter out (HARO) started to gain prominence.
Whereas the old Dynamic required a face-to-face relationship and geographical collocation, any digital publishing world reporters and promoters need not be co-located.
HARO, and several help a reporter out alternatives, spotted the need to connect journalist and promoters with Publishers in new and unique fashions.
As a result the service was developed to help the two parties find each other even if they are not in the same city.
How does Help A Reporter Out work?
The process is simple. The party seeking to promote a brand, person or cause, signs up for the service.
They either search for reporters who are covering stories they might be interested in gaining placement with, or post their availability to help a reporter produce a story.
On the journalists Side, Opportunities are scanned to see if any appropriate stories exists that match the editorial Direction the newspaper wants to go with a particular story.
If no current opportunities exist, a new one can be posted by the journalist and soon several parties interested in collaborating on that story will respond.
HARO (and HARO alternatives)
Bridge the gap between the parties and make the introduction easy.
From there the two parties work directly together to fulfill the publishing need as well as the publicity needs of the promoter.
Let’s walk through this step-by-step
From the journalist perspective:
Step 1 - The journalist has a deadline to hit
Additionally, they have been given a specific assignment by their editor or manager.
There is a usually a specific point of view they are trying to represent and they very much need facts and statistics as well as quotes and sources for the story.
Perhaps the story has been started and needs to be beefed up with more additional research before it can be published in a newspaper.
Perhaps it is a light and fluffy peace, more in line with lifestyle, and the reporter is just looking to beef up the content as well as the word count.
These are typical scenarios for a journalist who is facing a deadline and needs to get a story out.
Step 2 - The journalist signs up to help a reporter out
They register the opportunity with the software. In the digital platform various details of the story are shared as well as the deadline.
If specific facts and figures are needed, the journalist will document this in HARO (or an alternative to HARO).
Step 3 - Various promoters will respond to the opportunity
These promoters work at public relations firms, digital marketing agencies, or other professions who have been hired by a brand or client to be placed in the media.
The promoter will acknowledge the opportunity and commit to working to fill the gaps identified by the reporter.
Step 4 - The pr person provides information
They will typically include the promotional items to help a reporter out site (or HARO alternative) in the first place.
This work will be submitted to the journalist.
Step 5 - The journalist completes the story and publishes
After all it is their story that is being published.
I want to see somebody playing tonight yeah that would be cool.
How has public relations evolved in the age of digital marketing?
To make the story more interesting we now have to analyze it from the digital perspective.
At the Providence on Google has arrived, much of the publicity has turned towards learning placements that promote visibility in the search engines.
What does that mean exactly?
Simply put, public relations people now need to help their clients earn links, tweets, and Facebook likes as much as they need newspaper placements.
This is a game-changer
... in a world that has been dominated by traditional newspapers for a hundred years.
In the digital world, a prominent place in social media or in Google search may actually be more influential for a client or brand than a mentioned in the New York Times was 20 years ago.
This traumatic change in public relations strategy is hard to get your head around.
Modern PR people understand the value of Google search for their clients.
Additionally, getting an extremely strong Facebook presence can be the difference between a good PR campaign and a poor one.
How exactly do you maximize client exposure with Google search and Facebook spread?
Well there are specific strategies for each that we will have to dive into.
Google is the prominent search engine that is largely governed by an algorithm.
There are no humans with which to build relationships as there were in the days of newspaper when a publicist is trying to gain traction.
Instead, Google determines what to show in the search results based on how many backlinks a particular piece has earned.
Is this PR or Link Building?
An entire industry has grown up around link building, which wasn't even a thing 15 years ago. And it is rapidly merging with Content Marketing and PR.
Today earning a link is so important that many firms are highly specialized to find as many backlinks as possible for clients in the hopes to increase their visibility in the search results.
Many approaches to backlink building that were popular 10 years ago are no longer prominent.
The Google algorithm has evolved dramatically in the last few years which has had a ripple effect on how digital marketing firms A-Team backlinks for clients.
For example, in 2006 it was common for people to buy many domain names and set up hot dog stand, as they were known, with the purpose of linking to the main domain name and improving the visibility in the search engine.
The strategy largely does not work in 2019.
Modern approaches to link building focus more on earned backlink.
Those familiar with public relations will recognize the similarity to the pr term earned media.
In many people's opinions, backlink building has become the next generation of digital PR.
And this is where service is like Help A Reporter Out may become an excellent tool for search engine optimization folks Google continues to evolve.
Let me say that again because there's not obviously apparent to most digital marketers.
The world of public relations and Link building are merging rapidly given the dominance of Google and the rapid decline of newspapers.
As Google continues to require higher quality backlinks and more legitimate placements, there is an opportunity for the HARO service (and HARO alternatives) to become a very high-quality source of backlinks for clients.
What if publicists are not aware of the current state of Google Search and the true impact of high quality backlinks?
Many are still mostly thinking of placements as a mechanism for brand awareness and reputation management, and not as a vehicle for search engine optimization.
However the truth is that both can be achieved if the appropriate mindset is developed that combines the goals of public relations with that of digital marketing and search engine optimization.
Where does Facebook fit in all of this?
Facebook is a different animal altogether.
The social media network has risen to Providence and many people are devoted to growing the number of followers and influence they have on the platform.
Additionally, in 2018 we saw the rapid expansion of the advertising capabilities of the platform as well as serious problems as politicians moved in to influence the attitudes of Facebook users.
Facebook has spent much of the year in court as well as testify in Congress around issues related to fake news.
Publicist obviously need to be very mindful of what is happening in the political world as they consider what kind of campaigns to run for their clients.
And it was clear how services such as HARO have any impact social media and vice versa.
This field is rapidly changing and I'm sure that will be sorted out as services like HARO continue to evolve.
In sum, there are several Help A Reporter Out alternatives to choice from when you are trying to find a solid press placement for your client.
HARO is a great service, and we believe many more will evolve as the landscape of digital media placement and promotion evolves.