Are you pitching a journalist via HARO to get your story into a major publication? Here’s a quick list of what not to do in your pitch.
1. Don’t not respond to the request. I recently sent out a request via HARO for a piece I’m working on about CMOs and buyer journeys. In my request I asked for a quote from a CMO. Out of the 105 responses I received, at least 10% of them sent me something like this (this is a real response with the identifying information stripped out):
Pitch Contents: Sorry I’m not in my office but if you would like to speak to [name] the CEO of [company] who is expert in multi-channel marketing please let me know and I can arrange the call.
Do you know how much time it takes to get through 105 responses? What do you think I did with responses like the one above? That’s right, I deleted them. I already told them what I wanted, I didn’t have time to respond and ask them again.
What it a negative that this person was pitching a CEO instead of a CMO? Yes. But if she had sent me a great, relevant quote from her CEO, I probably would have included it anyway.
2. Don’t add fluff. As I try to meet deadlines and scan through 105 HARO responses as fast as I can, I don’t want to read about why the person you want me to quote in my article is a great person to quote. I just want to read the quote. Anything that gets in the way of me reading the quote hurts you. Here’s an example:
Saw your HARO request seeking experts on buyer personas and have the perfect source for you: [name], CMO and co-founder of [company name], a company that offers a customer intelligence platform that helps CMOs, VPs of marketing, etc. bring buyer personas to life. Her commentary–pasted below–is a bit lengthy, but should be quite helpful for your background writing the piece and hopefully for quoting as well.
Happy to answer any questions, and hope [name] insight is useful.
You might be thinking “C’mon Josh, it only takes you a minute to read that intro, and it’s helpful information!” False. It takes me 105 minutes to read 105 such intros, and I don’t have 105 minutes to read intros before I even get to reading the actual quotes.
I still ended up using the quote that was sent. Why? Because the PR rep separated her intro from the quotes, which made it easy to skip over her intro and read the quotes, and the quotes were quite good. Adding fluff won’t always ruin your pitch completely, but it sure doesn’t help.
3. Don’t self promote. If you get quoted in an article, that’s promotion enough. Your quote will always include your name, title, and your company name, and usually a journalist will link to your company website. If you have a good quote, that’s more important than putting the name of your company in the quote. Don’t do this:
At [company name] we work with multiple marketing teams across a variety of industries, from retail to utility services, to help them identify the most important and valuable journey‘s their customer are taking and thereby provide a more effortless experience.
When I see a quote with a company name in it, I think “Oh great, I’m going to have to edit this quote to get the company name out of it. I wonder how much time that will take me? Maybe I should just move on to the next quote and hope it’s clean and instantly usable.”
The exception: If the journalist asks you to include your company name in the quote, then include it. Always do what the journalist asks if you want to be used as a source.
These are just a few of the things I noticed while processing 105 responses from HARO for a recent piece. I’ve written about what I learned in more detail here.
Are you a journalist? What do you wish sources knew about using HARO? Are you a source or a PR rep? What questions do you have about crafting your pitch? Sound off in the comments below.Liked it? Share it!