How to snag the big catch on HARO

So much in the business of search engine optimization is akin to fishing. Too bad we can’t wash the frustration of not getting any bites down with an ice-cold beer.

When you throw out your line on the lake, river or stream, you never know when you will feel a nibble. It could take weeks or months, or just a few seconds or minutes. When a tug on the line does come your way, it’s hard not to overreact. You have to keep your composure and do your best to snag the catch. It takes patience – a trait most have a hard time putting to use.

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That’s how we must view responses, or non-responses, on HARO (Help a Reporter Out). When you send your lure out to the reporter, be honest. Give them the information they asked for and embed it in the body of the email. If you respond with an attachment on HARO, the reporters don’t get it. That’s a nice tidbit of info reporters should include in their queries, but at least we know now. Apparently getting a response on your first try is unusual; hence why this is being written.

There is usually no need to bring out the wit or creativity. Do some research, be concise and know the topic and pitch it in a way that gives the reporter no choice but respond. There are a few exceptions. In one recent example, a reporter requested examples of what busty women shouldn’t wear, and clearly wanted to have fun with the story – it’s hard to fathom someone doing a serious story on that subject. Queries like that are fair game and just begging for a clever response.

Here’s the big thing to remember with your pitch: Don’t overdo it with link prospecting in the initial contact with the reporter. It’s far more likely the reporter won’t finish the email if they see links. The goal is to get a bite, not get the fish on the boat right away.

Yet if even you do these things, there is no guarantee the reporter will bother to respond. Perhaps that’s a statement on the current state of our society when people ask for help yet can’t take five seconds to respond and simply say “thank you for taking the time to send me your thoughts.” See how hard that was? It doesn’t matter how many responses a reporter gets, are they so self-important they can’t practice a skosh of gratitude? Never mind, these are reporters; they are “extremely busy” and some of the most self-important people on the face of the planet.

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There is no doubt most who respond to HARO requests have a motive to get their products or companies pitched, but if the pitch is done well enough, the reporter won’t know it is a pitch. Still, when reporters use a tool like HARO, they have to know that’s at least possible and that they could get bombarded by people who want to pitch their company. To think otherwise would be like taking a drunk to the bar and getting mad when they get sloshed.

Since we can’t wash away the frustrations of non-responses on HARO with ice-cold beer, view them for what they are. They are lures, and when you get a bite, that’s when you pull a little harder.