For those who may not know, HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out. It is a service where reporters can go to look at news and stories that might fit what they want to write about, and the stories are ones proposed by businesses, organizations, and individuals wanting to get their product or service information into the news. Having established that, let’s look at what they do and can’t do.
1. Telling Your Story
If all you want is to get information published, whether about your company’s story or product, you can list it on the HARO website. But don’t count on it being picked up right away — or at all. The sheer number of options presented to reporters makes the chance of that happening minimal. Even if you are the world’s greatest writer, it still is no guarantee.
2. Experience and Contacts
A qualified PR company has several advantages over this option. First, they have lists of contacts in media with whom they have established relationships. There’s still no guarantee, but the PR expert will have a better idea whether or not your story is truly newsworthy, or if your PR campaign should focus on different approaches.
You may know everything there is to know about your product or service, but that doesn’t mean you know how to present that information in a way that will catch the attention of media or influencers. PR experts do this stuff every day, all day long. Even the less experienced staffers are more likely to know how to get your information to your target audience than you unless you’ve got extensive PR experience. But even if you do, there must be a reason you aren’t doing it full-time anymore. Do what you do best and let the PR firm help you reach those goals.
4. PR Industry is Evolving
A few years ago, much of PR was focused on putting out press releases, and while those are still used, there is so much more going on in PR agencies for their clients these days. Now PR goes so far beyond that type of publicity — or even publicity in general. There’s event planning for products — bringing in the industry leaders as well as media people specializing in that sector. There’s crisis communications and management and knowing how to turn bad situations around. There’s media training to help your key people know how to talk and respond to journalists or television interviewers so they put the best forward and don’t make rookie mistakes. And there’s social media. Creating those stories that go viral is a science and it is unlikely that anyone working in your offices will have that expertise.
5. Safety in Numbers
You could hire a PR manager for your firm and end up paying about 20 percent more for that employee, or even two at lesser pay. By the time you consider the cost of salary, taxes, and benefits, it’s almost always considerably cheaper to put a PR firm on retainer. But also consider this: even if you have two people, that limits your PR expertise to just what those two people know and can create. With a PR firm, you’ll have many times more people who could be contributing to your account, often one or more of them an executive.
Now tell me what about submitting a press release to HARO even comes close to the value you can see above.