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an intro to HARO and a question: should HARO reporters answer every response email?

By August 22, 2008Marketing, Networking, News

HARO (Help A Reporter Out), for those of you who don’t know, is the brainchild of Peter Shankman – author of  Can We Do That?! Outrageous PR Stunts That Work – And Why Your Company Needs Them.  In effect, journalists from around the world (mostly the U.S. and Canada) send Peter and his trusty assistant, Meagan, pitches for articles they’re writing. Peter sends these out in 3 batches per day – morning, noon, and evening – along with his hilarious comments and usually featuring someone or something who has caught his eye. Sometimes the requests come from national media corps like the NY Times or ABC, sometimes from bloggers or start-ups, etc. The pitches look like this:

5.2) Summary: Retailers Using Smartphones
Category: Business & Finance
Name: Heather Larson
Title: freelance writer
Media Outlet/Publication: Retail Customer Experience
Anonymous? No
Specific Geographic Region?  No
Deadline: 6:00 PM PACIFIC – August 22
Query: “Thank you for all the responses to my request for retail
consultants about using iPhones to reach customers. I got some
great interviews. Now I need some retailers who use smartphones to
reach their customers. This is for a trade magazine so I’ve been
told retailers have no reason to want to talk to me. But in the
bigger picture, I’m a shopper and tend to frequent stores that help
me out with stories. Other shoppers read the magazine, too. So, if
you are media relations for or a retailer yourself that is a match,
please contact me by e-mail.”

He sends them out to sources, people who have answers to the queries, which currently consists of over 23,000 people. This number grows every day. I’m thrilled to have found this network – it presents endless opportunities for my clients and it connects me to an even wider web and world audience (which you know I love). I carefully read each request, and I follow the rules of the game which are: only send a response to these journalists if you are truly a match for their query. This is all Peter asks of us. He doesn’t even charge for the service.

So, I’ve sent a few responses, and I’ve gotten some great replies, but I’ve also been met with total silence – which is where my question (see title) comes in. Dear journalists, I know you’re busy, we all are…but we’re also all voluntary participants in HARO. It would be so nice if you would follow the basic rules and mores of Web 2.0 etiquette: treat others the way you would like to be treated and reward and return participation. If us folks in the field take the time to respond to your query, a simple, ‘thanks’ or ‘thanks, will be in touch if needed’ will do. Maybe use an autoresponder?

It has occurred to me that maybe said journalists didn’t get my email, spam filters can be pretty rough these days…or maybe these journalists are getting hundreds, even thousands of emails per query. If that’s true, you’re off the hook. I can be a big girl and just know that you are delighted and grateful for each response. Either way, I’m delighted and grateful to be part of the network and encourage you to join. And, of course, a big thank you to Peter Shankman (a man who always replies to my emails).

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