Unless you're a small business owner who has been living under a rock, you have more than likely used Help A Reporter Out (HARO) to get pr leads, and who knows, you even have sent a few out yourself!
Just in case you don't know HARO, in brief it's a free service that allows the media to submit leads to adventurist/ publicist/pr expert Peter Shankman who then posts them on one of his daily emails. It's a great tool, bringing what was once only available via PR Newswire's Profnet (or long term, cultivated) relationships to entrepreneurs, publicists and business owners nationwide.
Now here is why I love HARO....beyond the leads....and beyond Peter's stories about his cats, Megan, trainer, and the rest of his team...
HARO is a great barometer of what is hot in short lead media. Look closely and you'll see patterns that will give you clues as to what stories are hot, what stories are being covered too much, and some that are slowly growing from sparks into larger trend pieces. It's almost like a short lead editorial calendar!
Here are somethings you can do when reading HARO (beyond pitching leads that HONESTLY match your brand - don't stretch it people):
* Look for stories that are popping up in several short lead publications almost verbatim. This query will soon be overdone so though you can reply to it if you are a match, don't pitch a similar story to the newspaper a week from now, it's old news!
* See certain authors or editors popping up time and time again? Take the time to get to know what they write and who they write about! Catalog this in your brain! Someday a story you're working on may be right for them!
* See a topic that is consistently popping up, figure out if you have a new take, angle, or spin on it and pitch that to your local press or national press.
* See a hot trend story emerging? Figure out if you can use your expert status to comment on it!
* See a hot trend story you can create an offshoot story of? Share a new approach about the story? Spin yourself into it and pitch that to your press contacts!
* See a section of Peter's emails that is getting heaps of queries (business, financial, health, celebrity) clearly the media considers this subject a hot topic! Follow it and see if you can spin yourself into a story.
Remember - the media are sending out queries regarding what they are looking for on HARO. They are basically sending you a message in no uncertain terms about what's hot for them right now. While of course you should reply to queries, don't stop there! If you use your pr strategy brain you may find that there is a trend story emerging that the outlets are interested in following. Don't just reply, create a pitch of your own and go after your local and regional press!
I myself am now off to review my HARO email myself.