How to Get Press Coverage without a PR Agency
Have you ever wondered how small businesses get mentioned in major publications like Huffington Post, The Street and Engadget? Keep reading and I’ll tell you how I’ve done it.
About a year ago, I decided to leap into entrepreneurship and build my own websites — Official Coupon Code and Official Coupon Code Canada. In my corporate days at JCPenney, Guitar Center & Proflowers, I had access to big marketing budgets and public relations experts, but as an army of one, I knew that I’d be left to my own devices. If you’re reading this, I’d imagine that you’re either a small business owner, entrepreneur, an SEO professional, or have recently lost some of your marketing budget.
Over the past year, I’ve received coverage from these publications for free, and without a PR agency: Entrepreneur, The Street, Engadget, Businessing, Insight Guides, Creative Click Media, The Huffington Post, Self Lender, Money Nomad, Manta, NGData, How Stuff Works and others.
How am I doing this? Am I’m spending hours pitching writers after scouring for their contact information? No, I’m not. There’s an incredible service out there called Help A Reporter Out (frequently referred to as HARO), which connects writers and editors with sources. Once you sign up for this free service, you select the topics you want to hear about and then receive a digest up to 3x per day. These emails contain a list of topics that each writer is working on, and you subsequently respond with a well-written pitch. While you can respond via the HARO online platform, you can also send emails to the masked email addresses that come with each request — something that I’ve found to be more efficient.
While a low percentage of your pitches are likely to be used, persistence pays off. Unfortunately, you don’t always know if your response will be used until the publication date comes around, but you can log in to the HARO platform and see if a writer has given your response a thumbs up. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see any thumbs up marks — I’ve found that not all writers use that feature (they only use it if they read responses within the HARO platform instead of through their own email).
Here’s an example of what a source request looks like:
While you may be tempted to respond to everything that you think you’re remotely qualified for, be careful because writers can mark a response as irrelevant which may hurt your chances of securing placements in the future.
In order to improve your chances of being selected as a source, it’s helpful to respond quickly after the source request digest comes out. Be thoughtful in your response, check and double check for typos or poor grammar, and lead with a one or two sentence intro about who you are so that they immediately know that you’re qualified to respond.
Writers will often send you an email if they include your content in a story (they’re supposed to), but I have set up Google Alerts under both my name and my website’s name in order to catch other articles. If you have access to SEO tools like Ahrefs, you can also set up content alerts and keep an eye on new referring domains.
As you become more familiar with HARO, you may find yourself tempted to post some of your own questions. Go for it! I’ve used this as a way to source content for some blog posts, but just ensure that you meet the minimum requirements in order to qualify as a valid publication (amount of traffic the site gets, etc.)
Overall, whether you’re a small business, a scrappy entrepreneur or an established PR pro, Help a Reporter Out is a fantastic service worth exploring.
What do you think? Have you had success with HARO? Do you have other ideas for getting good PR without hiring an agency?
Founded in February 2016, Official Coupon Code is setting out to simplify and improve the customer experience for online deal seekers and retailers alike. The site features only official, active coupons & promo codes from retailers like Kohl’s, Hudson’s Bay, Overstock and Lowes, travel deals and printable grocery store coupons. The site is available in both the USA and Canada.
Official Coupon Code was founded by Antonella Pisani, who previously held VP roles at Fossil, JCPenney, Guitar Center and Proflowers. The company is headquartered in Denver, CO and is part of Eyeful Media LLC.