The ultimate HARO (Help a Reporter Out) FAQ

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The ultimate HARO (Help a Reporter Out) FAQ

The ultimate HARO FAQ is composed of questions that have actually been asked. This means that the questions below, no matter how obvious the answer, have all been asked by HARO members. There are no stupid questions – I still believe that. There are, occasionally, questions that are just asked without thinking. But that’s ok. That’s why we have FAQ’s.

Q) What does HARO stand for?A) HARO stands for Help A Reporter Out.

Q) What’s the website for Help a Reporter?A) The website for Help a Reporter Out is The website for the media to submit queries is The link for the Help a Reporter Gift Bag Product Request List is: To submit to the Gift Bag Product Request List, go here and choose “Gift Bags.”

Q) How does Help a Reporter Work?A) Help a Reporter is an email mailing list. Once you sign up, you get three emails per day from me, Peter Shankman. These three emails have anywhere from 30 to 50 queries per email, in topic categories including Business and Finance, Health, General Queries, Lifestyle and Entertainment, Technology, and Travel.

You read the index of each email. It takes five seconds to do. If you spot a query in the index at which you’re knowledgeable, you can simply scroll down to the full query and email the reporter directly. If the reporter finds your information worthwhile, helpful, or interesting, the reporter will most likely get in touch with you for further information.

Q) How much does it cost?A) It’s 100% free on all sides.

Q) How do you make money then?A) There’s one four or five line text advertisement at the beginning of each email. That’s it. (If you have a desire to reach over 80,000 qualified leads, click “contact” up above, and chat with us.)

Q) Why do I want to be quoted in a story, or on TV, or help a reporter out, anyway?A) Well, a little exposure is a good thing. If you’re an expert at something, it’s good for you if people know it. Being thought of as an expert sets you apart, allows you to grow your company, your brand, your identity – it can even result in new clients or a potential new job! As we move more and more into a socially networked world, the resume will count for less and less. But your public persona – your brand, will count for more and more. Being a quoted source on CNN or Good Morning America is completely beneficial to growing your brand the right way. And that can never be done enough.

Q) How many people are on the HARO list?A) As of July 3rd, we’re over 80,000 sources that get this email three times per day.

Q) Why is it an email list, and not an RSS feed?A) Reporters don’t like having their email addresses and queries “live” anywhere. As an email list, that cuts down on the chances of Google picking up the email addresses.

Q) I don’t want three emails a day, I only want one!A) Too bad. One email, sent at noon, really wouldn’t help the reporter who has a deadline 40 minutes before that, would it?

Q) I want the queries broken down by subject, content, and delivered to me when I want them.A) Well, I want a rocket ship. The world is full of disappointments. But you never know. Stay tuned – We have new features added all the time.

Q) Who are you?A) My name is Peter Shankman. I started this list as a Facebook group, as a favor to friends. It grew rather quickly, and now exists as a mailing list.


Q) How do I sign up?A) You go to and fill out the four question form. Enter your first name, your last name, your email, and your company.

Q) Then what happens?A) You’ll get an email back asking you to click a link to to confirm your membership. It will say you’re joining the IICHAROIW mailing list. That stands for “If I Can Help A Reporter Out, I Will.” That was the original name of the HARO list, before I shortened it to HARO.

Q) Then what?A) You’ll receive a welcome message from me, telling you yet again, who I am, why I’m doing this, and that you’ll receive three emails per day. It’ll also tell you that you can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link at the bottom of every email, and it will also show you the format of the emails.

Q) I signed up, but I didn’t get the confirmation email.A) If you didn’t get the confirmation email, you’ll want to do the following things: 1) Check your SPAM folder. 95% of the time, the confirmation email is there. Move it to your regular inbox, then click on the link. Then add peter (at) shankman (dot) com to either your address book, your white list, or both.

Q) Nope, not in my SPAM folder.A) Got an IT department? They’re most likely blocking it as SPAM. Talk to them. Tell them why HARO is important, and get them to allow it in.

Q) How many emails will I get per day?A) You’ll get three emails per day. They’ll usually come around 5:45am, 12:30pm, and 5:45pm. These are all Eastern Time. If you’re on the West Coast, 2:45am, 9:30am, and 2:45pm. If you’re in Tokyo, you got these queries yesterday.

How is the list structured?

The list is structured like this:

-Four line advertisement

-Me talking for a paragraph about something interesting.

-The index of the queries (The queries are below this index. I need to say this because no less than five times a day do people email asking how to answer the queries from the one line they’ve read.)

-The queries.

Q) How do I respond?A) If you see a query for which you think you’re perfect, answering is easy: Simply scroll down to the actual query, and email the reporter at their contact information.

Q) Sometimes, a reporter asks for me to use a specific subject line. Why?A) Posting a HARO query is like opening a floodgate. A reporter might get 50, 100, even 500 responses within the first few minutes of their query being posted. When that happens, reporters sometimes like to filter these emails automatically, so they don’t eclipse non-HARO emails coming into their in-box. As such, when they ask for specific information in the subject line, it’s in your best interest to follow their directions to the letter. If you don’t, I can guarantee that no matter how perfect you are for the story, you’re not going to get quoted.

Q) I’m perfect for this query! What should I tell the reporter?A) I usually recommend a three-paragraph rule. First paragraph tells the reporter who you are, and why you’re perfect for what they’re looking for.

“Dear Mr. Reporter: I noticed your HARO query looking for skydivers who have under 200 jumps and still kind of suck at the sport. Well, I’ve got 189 jumps, have never won any awards, but am improving on every jump I do.

I got my skydiving certification at Skydive the Ranch, near New Paltz, New York. One of the key things that people don’t realize is that once you get your license, that’s where the real learning kicks in. Skydiving is truly a sport at which you improve every jump, but you continue to learn on every jump, as well. Those who say they’ve learned all they need to learn about the sport by jump 300 are fooling themselves.

I’m happy to talk further at your convenience. I can be reached at PHONE NUMBER, EMAIL, or on Twitter @skydiver. Feel free to contact me anytime, and I’m also happy to put you in touch with several other skydivers who also have under 200 jumps and think they suck, too.

All the best,

-Peter Shankman

Q) The reporter didn’t email me back! Why not? Should I email him/her again?A) Chances are, if the reporter didn’t reply to you, they’ve either found their source, or they didn’t feel you were a good fit. Either way, emailing them again usually isn’t helpful. You’ll have other chances in the future.

Q) I’ve been used in an article! How cool! What should I do now?A) Well, apart from telling your friends, adding a link to your blog, etc., be sure and post it on the HARO Fan Page wall on Facebook!

Anything else I should keep in mind?

When you read the queries, there are often region-specific queries. Pay attention to that section , because few things aggravate a reporter who is based in Washington and has asked for Washington-area only people to reply then coming back to their desk after the query goes out and finding 200 e-mails from people from every area in the United States EXCEPT WASHINGTON.


HARO accepts submissions from working members of the media: Media includes:

-Television Media-Radio Media-Print (TV and Magazine) Media-Corporate Magazines (both internal and external)-Blogs (Whether we accept your blog is determined by a combination of factors, including your Alexa and Google rankings, amount of articles you’ve posted, and what information you’re asking for.)

Product Review Requests If your blog ranks relatively high on Alexa and is a “legitimate” blog (and legitimacy is kind of like pornography – we know it when we see it,) we’ll include product review requests. We will NOT accept product review requests for blogs that are essentially people asking for free stuff, and we won’t accept product review requests from sites with a limited number of blog entries. Do you think you have special circumstances? Email us, and let us know. But keep in mind “My blog should be included!” isn’t a special circumstance. As always, we have the right to determine whether your queries will be accepted. Why? Because we have close to 100,000 sources that will email us if they don’t believe your blog is legit. And trust us – they will. Every time.

Q) Where do I submit my request?A) You submit your request using the form at

Q) I’ve sent my query request! How long until it goes out? READ THIS!A) HARO gets upwards of 200 queries per day. Obviously, the ones with the closest deadlines go out first. If you have a lead time of three weeks or more, please don’t have a panic attack if your query does not go out immediately. It will. If there’s a problem with it or it’s unsuitable for posting, we’ll tell you, we promise.

Q) Does HARO accept gift bag requests?A) Yes and no. HARO accepts requests for gift bags as long as the request meets the following conditions:

1) It’s for an actual event, in the event gift bag or gift basket.2) It’s for a recognized event. (Ex., not “Joe’s giveaway to his drinking buddies.”)3) It has quantifiable measurement: (Ex: 300 mothers at a gala benefit, HHI $150k+, etc.)4) For product review sites, the site must meet our Alexa and Google Page Rankings and have a high quality site. (See above.)5) There is absolutely, 100% no charge. Any gift bag request that has any kind of monetary charge involved won’t be allowed.

Q) How do I submit to the Gift Bag list?A) – choose “Gift Bag.”

Q) How do I join the Gift Bag list?A)

Q) I’m looking for contact information for a celebrity. Can I post it on HARO?A) No. We recommend you use Who Represents – And it’s pronounced “Who Represents,” not “Whore Presents.”


Things to keep in mind about HARO, things that are good to do, things that will get you banned.

Q) What are the five rules of HARO?A) They are here – Do try and take them seriously. If you post queries on your blog, I’ll ask you to take them down. If you don’t, I’ll ban you from HARO. Why not make it a lot easier and just don’t post them to begin with?

Q) Can I forward these queries to friends?A) Of course you can. One of the best features of HARO is that you have the ability to send as many of these queries to as many friends as you want. The more, the merrier. It’s all about good karma. As an added bonus, though, why not simply have your friends sign up at – Everyone wins.

Q) Can I pitch a reporter from the list with a story not connected to the list?A) No.

Q) Can I save reporter email addresses and email them with story topics?A) No.

Q) Can I post these questions onto blogs?A) No. See above.

Q) Do you really “out” people on the list for pitching off-topic?A) Try it and see. And then, visit this site as well.

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