Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is an online service catered to journalists to gather fast feedback from the public. HARO works as a middle person between journalists and sources such as experts, and others alike. The system sends out a number of emails a day notifying experts of journalists who are seeking their sources. This enables the journalist to quickly gather information to add perspective to their story. HARO was founded as a Facebook group in 2008 by Peter Shankman and was later acquired by Vocus. Inc.
HARO benefits not just journalists, but also public relations practitioners and their clients alike. As HARO works in a two-way system, a PR practitioner may enquire others about news or sources related to the clients’ wants and needs, and at the same time be able to spread information to other journalists and PR practitioners. Also, HARO can be used to source niche news sources. This would be beneficial to find news on competitors and those in similar industries.
PR practitioners may also pitch their news stories to journalists in HARO. By doing so, practitioners are able to personally choose which media they want their client to be featured in. Furthermore, PR practitioners are able to build professional relationships with the journalists on HARO for future use.
Using HARO would be a priority for small and start-up businesses as creating a good marketing image is a necessity. HARO is cost-effective as all communication is done online via the website or emails. This removes the need for PR practitioners to find journalists through other sources such as newspaper or magazine agencies. It removes the agency as a barrier between the PR practitioner and the journalist.
As HARO becomes more and more of a norm for journalists and PR practitioners to communicate, it becomes a necessity for both ends to use HARO to compete in the industry to gain information.