June 2, 2020 PenelopeFry

Cision HARO (Help a Report Out) 2021 Ultimate Guide

Cision Help a Reporter Out (HARO or H/A/R/O) is an international publicity service. HARO is bringing together over 1.2 million expert sources, like you, with over 77,000 journalists, bloggers and publishers. HARO started North America in 2008.

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Through HARO, journalists submit questions about niche topics they are on deadline for, in the hope that a great person with some knowledge (“source”) can swoop in and share their expertise.

As a source member of HARO, you’ll receive daily messages that list stories that journalists are working on. You’ll ‘pitch’ to the stories that fit with your knowledge or brand, and ideally they’ll use the quote and information you give them to add the finishing touches to their story.

The publisher or journalist gets what they need for their story. You get the benefits of being quoted or talked about in the article. It’s a win-win!

You’re probably thinking, “I could use this to build links for my site”. And, you’d be right! Through HARO, journalists submit questions about niche topics they are on deadline for, in the hope that a great person with some knowledge (“source”) can swoop in and share their expertise.

As a source member of HARO, you’ll receive daily messages that list stories that journalists are working on. You’ll ‘pitch’ to the stories that fit with your knowledge or brand, and ideally they’ll use the quote and information you give them to add the finishing touches to their story.

The publisher or journalist gets what they need for their story. You get the benefits of being quoted or talked about in the article. It’s a win-win!

The great thing is that many of these media outlets have websites with high Domain Authority. We’re talking about your chance to bequoted in places like Time, Mashable, and the Wall Street Journal. You can score publicity plus a valuable link back to your business or blog! That’s a powerful and lasting boost for your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) that will help you gain traffic too!

So, how do you join for free and engage with these journalists and publishers?

Firstly, we’ll tell you how to join. Secondly, we’ll give you HARO’s own inside on how to pitch so you have the best chance of being included in an article. 

Did we forget to mention that basic HARO membership is free?

Read on…

How does help a reporter out work?

HARO is like a guest blogging/reporting site that lets people to contribute on their topic of expertise.

Best of all, you can start with a free membership! Paid members, however, get a lot more perks than members that use the site free of charge. 

You can be a ‘source’ or a ‘reporter’ with HARO, or even register as both!  

Source: A source is someone with knowledge that journalists and publishers can contact for opportunities. You’ll be sent alerts and the media representative will decide whether or not to use you.

Reporter: As a reporter, you can tap the experts at HARO. Register queries (descriptions of your writing piece or project) and choose from the options sent to you by sources.

How do I Sign Up and Apply with HARO

Step 1. Start at helpareporter.com. You’ll see an option to click “I’m a Journalist” or “I’m a Source”. Click the button that best applies to you and it will start the sign-up process.

Step 2. Now you need to enter your name, contact details, company and approximate annual revenue. Then, nominate a password. Finally, click “Sign up” to finish.


Step 3. On the next page, you’ll be prompted to check your email. You’ll need to click a confirmation link to sign in and validate your email address.

They’ll also give you a Tweet button so you can announce your HARO membership acceptance on Twitter. The Tweet includes draft text, a link, and the HARO twitter handle.


Step 4. Go to your inbox and look for their email. You’ll see a message like the one below. Click the link to start editing your HARO profile and account settings.


Step 5. Follow the link in your email to log into HARO.  You should see that your account has been set up, with your contact details already saved in the fields.

Firstly, you need to fill in your other details and choose your account options (Reporter, Source, and/or Sponsor).


Secondly, you can scroll down to set up your HARO preferences. By default, you’ll be subscribed to the Master HARO list. Select which industry or topic specific queries you’d like to get.


The industry/topic lists you see in grey are new/proposed ones that aren’t active yet. You can still opt-in to them. HARO will start sending out opportunities using those lists once there are enough to make the list-activation worthwhile.

Click ‘save & update’ and you’ll start receiving queries!

Handling HARO Queries 

HARO Newsletters

Once you’ve signed up, you’ll start getting opportunities by email. Expect three or more emails a day, depending on the industry editions you’ve signed up to receive.

The editions are sent at 5:35 am, 12:35 pm, and 5:35 pm ET, Monday through Friday.

The emails are formatted in two sections:

  1. Query title listed by industry-specific category
  2. Full query text listed in the order of their titles


How to Respond to a HARO Query

Step 1: Search the HARO newsletter for relevant publicity opportunities.

Here’s a tip: It’s easy to scan for keywords using the keyboard shortcut “CTRL-F”. Hold down the ‘ctrl’ key then click the ‘F’ key on your keyboard to open the search tool. 

Step 2: Send your pitch to the reporter by email or through the HARO platform using the email address listed above the query. 

It’s that simple!

In the next section, we’ll show you the full HARO best practices process and give you tips on how to write a great pitch.

Want to get featured in a news article? Here's a tip! Follow HARO on Twitter (@helpareporter). They tweet media requests for quotes and info (#URGHARO) throughout the day. It's easy to join Cision HARO for free!

How to take your pitch to the next level with Cision HARO

With hundreds of thousands of sources and publishers using HARO, how can you get your pitch stand noticed? 

Help a Reporter Out (HARO), is a powerful tool. As we covered earlier, with HARO, you or your brand can become the go-to source for a particular topic. You can also use the service to strengthen your reputation, with the possibility of winning quality backlinks. It’s a win-win. But you need to do more than a basic response if you want to lay claim to coverage.

So, how do you write a HARO pitch? What is the right way to respond to HARO queries? We sought out tips from the Cision Team for you. Here is a summary of their advice, which will cover:

  • How you can prepare before pitching
  • Suggestions for how you can develop your pitch, and what to include
  • Actions you can take after you have sent your pitch

Here are the 10 insider tips we learned from HARO about how you can be successful with the service.

1. Evaluate the Query, don’t just read it!

Consider each query that catches your eye carefully, especially the requirements section. Do you meet all the publisher’s criteria? If yes, go for it! If not, move on. You’ll waste your time to respond to a source request that you aren’t perfect fit for, and you could make the publisher less likely to want to read your future pitches too.

2. Respond Fast

Writers seeking a source are often working with quick turnaround times. The Cision HARO team generally suggests that sources should pitch their expertise or story within an hour of the query going out. Why? Because that’s the typical time frame in which journalists decide on their sources! However, if that isn’t feasible, you can still pitch within the deadline they’ve nominated.

3. Check And Edit

Yes, we just told you that you need to be fast! But, don’t forget to proofread and edit your pitch! If your reply is badly written, you can expect a Journalist to delete it even faster than we can eat a vegan doughnut! Even if it’s a short pitch, treat it like it’s a cover letter for your dream job. Grammarly’s free editor is worth using for this. Just copy and paste your draft and it will quickly point out common typos for you.

4. Stick to the Topic

Publishers are looking for real-world stories and expertise, and can easily detect a dodgy pitch. Stick to the topic! You’ll fail big time if you use HARO to share a press release or pitch a product if the query doesn’t ask for this sort of information. Don’t run the risk of getting banned from the service. Off-topic and unsolicited pitches are against HARO’s rules. Don’t be like the loser sharing dog pictures in the cat meme thread, no matter how cute the puppies are! You won’t get a good response.

5. Short and Sweet

HARO pitches should be brief, at most 300 words. HARO pitches of be 175 words or less are what many journalists prefer. If you want to include images or documents in your pitch, create a link using services such as Google or Dropbox. In order to protect users from viruses, attachments are automatically stripped from HARO emails.

6. Write in Quotes

One of the great things about HARO is that journalists will often quote directly from your response. But you need to play your part and write in soundbites, especially if your know that their deadline is tight. The easier you make their job, the better your chances of getting featured. If you are pitching on behalf of someone else, directly reply with their response as if it was them speaking. Don’t ever just say, “My client can talk about this.”

7. Include Multiple Contact Options

You’ll make it easier for journalists to reach you and let them the platform they like best. Include your phone number, email address, social media handles and website. Since the corona virus, a lot of us are also using video so include Skype, Zoom or another video call service option too.

8. It’s About Relationships

Think about HARO as an opportunity to connect for the longer term, beyond the pitch. If you email or call them repeatedly, you’ll get nowhere fast. Your first pitch might not be accepted, but your second or third might if you establish a relationship. Do this by establishing common interests and sharing their articles on social media. Don’t harvest publisher contact information for an unsolicited pitch or you’ll get kicked out of the HARO fun park!

9. Turn HARO Into a Content Marketing Machine

You’re not going to get all of your pitches accepted, but don’t let your great content go to waste. Wait for at least a month after the HARO query request closes. Then, dig out your replies and turn them into content for your site, blog, or social media.

10. Monitor Your Results

Keep track of your work with HARO. Experiment with your subject lines, pitch wording and media relations tactics. Have a look at a couple of stories that you missed out on, to see what sort of content the journalist accepted. You can keep testing and improving your style until you hit the publicity-winning sweet spot! Practice makes perfect!

How do you use HARO backlinks?

You use HARO backlinks to boost your SEO. Here’s how:

  1. share the article on social media to create engagement and conversation
  2. add the article’s link to your directory profiles and marketing collateral
  3. add keywords from the article to your site content.

Yes, HARO SEO goes beyond getting your link on their page.

Remember, the article’s engagement and backlink statistics will increase the SEO boost it gives your own linked site. So, help promote the article! Adding relevant keywords from the article to your own site and domain content will help you rank in those additional keywords too. They’ll also reinforce your core keyword if they’re within a common theme. Bonus!

Don’t forget to share statistics with your journalist or publisher, with a thank you! You’ll reinforce your positive relationship and increase the chances that they’ll include you in future articles, boosting your SEO and publicity even further.


Wondering what HARO means?

HARO is an acronym for Help A Reporter Out.

How do I contact HARO?

Here’s how to contact HARO:

What are HARO’s rules?

HARO’s rules are available here: https://www.helpareporter.com/sources/rules/?nav_location=main_menu

What is a HARO pitch?

A HARO pitch is a reply to a query sent by a journalist, blogger or publisher through HARO emails – typically this is when you reply to “pitch” yourself as source for the story.

What is link building and why does it matter?

Link building is the process of acquiring hyperlinks from other websites to your own, and between pages within your site. It’s a way for users to navigate between pages, but it also helps search engines identify how relevant and useful your site is for a certain topic. If your site is considered useful, you’re more likely to show up in the first page of results. People are more likely to see and click your site if they can find it, which brings visitors that you can use to generate income on your site.

What is Haro link building?

HARO link building is the practice of using the HARO outreach service to connect to journalists who can provide you with the rare opportunity to get high quality media coverage from high Domain Authority sites. You seek backlinks from this coverage and leverage this powerful tool to gain the exposure your website needs.

How do I ask for backlinks?

Firstly, choose backlinks that will offer genuine value to the readers of the article that the Journalist is planning. Secondly, draft the soundbites in your pitch with backlinks in mind. Finally, include the backlinks with a one sentence explanation for their value. For example, you could offer a backlink to your ‘Vegan Chef Network Group’ landing page for a story about the importance of networking for Vegan Chefs.

What is the best link building strategy?

The best link building strategy for Cision HARO is to provide links that add value to answering the query. To inform your strategy, take a quick look at the types of links that the journalist has used in the past.


With over 17 years in international vegetarian and vegan communities on and off-line, I work hard to follow these niche markets and trends. I have provided menu advice for over 40 restaurants and cafes across 11 countries... and counting! Vegan food is my passion, but I also like sailing and cycling.


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