April 14, 2017

'I Like What You've Done With Your HARO'

  • Subline: A good pitch is worth a lot of eyeballs

Sometimes pitching stories to journalists is like fishing. You drop bait in the water, then wait for something unseen to happen far below the surface. Often you get nary a nibble, but sometimes you land a lunker.

This week, I landed a lunker. A pitch for the Deadwood Chamber turned into a story that appeared online at Country Living, MSN and Yahoo. These sites combined have something like 20 million unique monthly visitors.

At tdg, I use a service called Help A Reporter Out -- a.k.a. HARO. It’s an ingenious way to connect journalists with sources in a way that benefits both. Journalists post queries seeking information, insight or experts to help flesh out a story. The queries go out via email to public relations folks, whose clients are looking for good press. If I see a query that applies to a client, I send a written pitch, with photos and tidbits that might interest the journalist.

I start each morning by going through the HARO queries looking for something I can pitch. There are a lot of queries, and the majority don’t apply to any tdg clients. “Looking for celeb fitness trainers to share ab workouts.” Definitely not in my wheelhouse.

But a month ago, I saw a query seeking “America's Best Small Mountain Towns for Summer.” It was posted by Perri O. Blumberg at Country Living. I sent a pitch that included great reasons to vacation in Deadwood, including its Western history, Spearfish Canyon, the Mickelson Trail and gaming.

Often I never hear back. Sometimes I’m surprised when a story turns up. But this week, Perri was kind enough to send me a note and link to her Country Living story, 20 Small Mountain Towns Perfect for a Summer Vacation. A few days later, MSN and Yahoo picked up with the story.

It’s been my experience that a well-written, on-topic pitch with great photos is crucial when responding to HARO queries. Journalists are busy people with tight deadlines. They probably get hundreds of pitches. I picture them scrolling through pitch after pitch, saying “no, no, no, hell no, probably no …. Wait a minute … ”

I want mine to be the wait-a-minute pitch.