If you have read our article on getting press for your practice, you know there’s a lot that goes into getting press. You have to figure out which publications your ideal clients read, figure out which reporters at that publication that cover mental health and wellness or another one of your specialty areas, find their contact information, craft a pitch tailored to them, and hope that they’re interested in writing about that subject.
It’s a lot, particularly if you’re a one-person therapist, marketer, and business person all rolled into one “private practice owner” role.
What if the whole process of getting featured in the press could be easier? What if you could magically find a journalist who was working on a story about your specialty right now?
Luckily, there’s a solution, and it exists in the real world (even though it seems like magic). That solution is Help a Reporter Out (HARO), and other similar sites.
Help a Reporter Out is a freemium email list that connects journalists who are working on specific stories with potential sources (experts in different fields) for those pieces. If you are an expert in a topic a journalist is already writing a story about, it is much easier to convince that journalist to feature you in a story.
HARO makes it easy for journalists to find experts to lend accuracy and depth to their stories. In turn, the expert sources on HARO (who could be you!) get social proof that they are experts in their field through press features. Oftentimes, the publication will also include a backlink to your site, which helps improve your SEO. For more information on how press coverage can improve your SEO, visit our piece on backlinks.
HARO has a free version and multiple tiers of premium versions. The higher tiers of premium gives you early access to expert requests, but the free version works well for the vast majority of people. We recommend that you try the free version before considering an upgrade; MyWellbeing and/or our therapists have been featured in publications including Forbes, INSIDER, and Cosmopolitan using the free version alone.
Signing up for HARO is quick and easy. Simply go to HARO’s website and click “SIGN UP” in the top right corner of the main page to start setting up your profile. Make sure you label yourself as a source instead of a journalist! You can also select different topics that you want to follow, but we would recommend getting the “general” newsletter with all the topics since mental health -- and thus mental health media -- spans so many areas of life, from education and health to business and even travel!
Once you are finished the sign-up process, HARO will start sending you lists of the articles that journalists are working on up to three times a weekday, and you can start reaching out to journalists.
As a word of caution, the emails from HARO tend to be long, with over 100 different inquiries in many general emails. To filter through the noise, we like to use the CTRL+F (CMMD + F on Apple) feature to search the list for terms like “therapist,” “coach,” “anxiety,” and “mental health” to find inquiries that might be relevant for us.
One of the most common questions we get from therapists who have dipped a toe in the waters of HARO is how to increase the number of times that their responses to journalists are selected for finished articles. Here are some of the best practices we’ve used to get featured more often:
HARO is many wonderful things, but it is not a good place to find a journalist to pitch a story focused only on your practice (at least, not until you have built a relationship with that journalist where they regularly come to you as a source). Since journalists are looking for help with pieces they are currently working on, they will not respond as well to pitches as they might if you reached out to them via email.
Similarly, journalists ask for specific types of experts in their story, and they are not going to feature you if your expertise isn’t a fit for what they’re seeking, even if your perspective may be valuable.
For example, you may have a lot to say to people who are experiencing stress over their 401k balance or their child’s return to school. However, you shouldn’t reach out to journalists writing about those topics if the reporters are only asking to hear from financial advisors and teachers.
However, it should not be challenging to find journalists who will welcome your expertise. Almost every newsletter has at least one request for a therapist’s perspective.
Finally, we recommend starting your email with your credentials as the type of expert that the journalist is seeking so they can see that you match their requirements before they read the rest of your email. Showing them that they can use your work will encourage them to keep reading.
You should respond to HARO inquiries within an hour of receiving the HARO newsletter if possible. You can still respond after an hour has passed, but you should definitely send your email before the submission deadline.
There are so many expert sources on HARO that journalists’ inboxes fill quickly. The modern reporter is working with very tight deadlines and may be managing multiple stories at once, so they tend to move quickly when they have the quotes they need. If you spend too much time working on your response, they will likely have moved forward with other responses by the time you get back to them.
Getting back to reporters quickly helps them and maximizes the chances that they will feature your post.
That said, it’s easy to make small mistakes when you are responding quickly. Don’t forget to copy/paste the journalist’s email from the query and send your response directly to the journalist instead of replying to HARO.
This is arguably the single most important factor in getting more outlets to feature you from HARO responses. Since journalists are working long days with multiple articles, the more you can do to make it easy for them to use your words, the better.
Follow the instructions and asks that the journalist provides in their query, and try to compose your response as a “quote” that the reporter can pull directly from your email and put into your piece. The less back-and-forth you and the journalist need so that they have a quote for their piece, the more likely it is to be used.
The only exception to the “send something final that the journalist can use immediately” rule is when a journalist specifically asks to interview an expert. In that case, it’s better to send over times you’re free and the best way to reach you. In all other cases, send a quote.
In the spirit of saving journalists as much time as possible, add a line to the end of your email confirming that the publication and journalist have permission to use your words. Not all media outlets will require you to confirm that they can use your quote, but giving it anyway will save the journalist time if the publication requires it.
You may see an inquiry that looks like it was written directly for you, reach out with a well-crafted and helpful answer. . .and never hear back. In fact, this turn of events may happen more often than not, particularly as you’re getting started with HARO.
That’s normal, and it doesn’t mean anything about your value, what you have to say, or your future chances to get featured. HARO has a lot of subscribers and it is normal for journalists to get more responses than they can use.
Not hearing back doesn’t mean that you won’t be featured. Sometimes, journalists will quote you without letting you know they ended up using your quote. You can search Google News for your name or practice name or even set up a news alert for your name to make sure you catch every article that comes through.
Finally, it’s important to remember that your time is worthwhile and you can vet opportunities just like journalists vet your responses.
Before you get started with HARO, think about where your target audience spends time and focus on inquiries from the publications that serve them. That way, you maximize the potential benefits of press features on your practice.
Good luck with your HARO outreach. We can’t wait to see the “as seen in” section of your website fill up with press mentions!
Mariah was Head of Growth at MyWellbeing. She is a marketing expert in the areas of content strategy, digital advertising, business growth, and anything related to helping therapists grow their practice.