Tips for Pitching Your Story to a HARO Reporter Inquiry

The other day I was sitting at the computer reading through my HARO inquires. If you’re not familiar with HARO, you should get to know this handy free publicity tool. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) sends three emails a day with inquiries from reporters looking for experts on a range of topics (from healthcare, to travel, parenting and business). I’ve been mentioned a few times on some great blogs, including a recent feature about a day in my life on Yahoo! Education.

The writer of the Yahoo! piece, Charyn Pfeuffer, was a joy to work with and has tons of experience writing for some well-known media outlets. Over the past 15 years, her work has appeared in more than 100 media outlets including AOL, Condé Nast Digital Media,, Destination Weddings & Honeymoons,, Marie Claire, National Geographic Traveler, San Francisco Chronicle, SPA, Sunset, and Yahoo! She’s very much a think-big-and-make-things-happen kind of gal (and you know I love those kind of gals) who loves to use media tools to share experiences and cultivate engagement.

When I started thinking about the perfect pitch, I knew I had to ask her. Like I said, Charyn is awesome, so she’s provided us with…

5 Tips for Pitching a Reporter

  • Ask the journalist how she prefers to be pitched. I don’t like talking on the phone, nor do I like interrupting a productive groove for unsolicited pitches. If you’re in my inbox, I can read and respond at my own leisure.
  • Know what the journalist covers and who they write for. Nothing says you haven’t done your homework like pitching me for publications I haven’t written for in a decade.
  • When you’re using HARO, read the query and pitch what is requested and only if it’s a good fit. Unless otherwise stated, assume the journalist is on assignment and is looking for specific information. If he/she is looking to interview a doctor, now is not the time to pitch your dentist client. Ditto for suggesting an entirely new angle that better suits your client’s needs.
  • Don’t follow-up incessantly. I frequently receive dozens, sometimes even hundreds, of responses to HARO queries. This is in addition to the dozens of unsolicited pitches in my inbox on a daily basis. As much as I’d like to thank every person who pitches me something, I don’t have time. So, I try to acknowledge pitches from people I have relationships with and put a disclaimer on my HARO queries that says I’ll respond if and only if the pitch is a good match. Don’t be the publicist that follows up within an hour of emailing a HARO pitch (or three times in as many hours like someone recently did).
  • Personalize your pitch. Nothing makes me hit delete faster than a generic “To whom it may concern” greeting or misspelling my name.

Thanks, Charyn for sharing with all of us.

If you haven’t already, make sure to sign up for HARO today. And, if you’re on the mailing list, check all three of today’s emails and see if there’s something worth pitching (and use these tips). For all you guys and girls that have this PR thing down, share your tips with us in the comments section!

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About Donna Queza

I'm an optimist grounded in realism. That's what I love about working on the web -- the possibilities to be creative and distinctive are endless, but there's always a need for those reality-driven, data-fueld folks who make our dreams into realities. I like to think I hover somewhere in the middle - creative, quantifiable internet marketing solutions.

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