Laura Petrolino

The Non-Official HARO Query (Help a Reporter Out) Blooper Reel

By: Laura Petrolino | February 21, 2017 | 

The Non-Official HARO Query (Help a Reporter Out) Blooper ReelOne earned media tactic PR pros either love or hate is the HARO query.

HARO (which stands for Help a Reporter Out) is a platform that connects reporters to sources three times every day.

Very simply, a journalist submits a query, it goes out through email to the HARO list, and a source (or PR representation for that source) responds.

I personally love it!

How I Use HARO

I use HARO in a number of ways:

  • Directly respond to queries on behalf of clients
  • Research trending stories and areas of interest for outside pitches or owned content
  • Build relationships with reporters beyond the initial story (I’d say about 70 percent of the queries I respond to have resulted in a longer term relationship with the reporter or editor, which has resulted in other placements down the line).
  • Help out colleagues and friends. I’ll often see something I know would be perfect for a colleague and send it over. It’s a nice, small way to support the organizations and people I believe in.

If you haven’t used it before, I’d try it and see if you like it.

It takes very little time to scan the emails each day and see if there is anything of value for your client or organization.

Even if you never respond to one HARO query, I think you’ll find value just from the ideas perspective for outside pitching or development of your own content.

HARO Queries that Make You Go Hmmmm…

But honestly this post isn’t about how or why to use HARO, this post is about the other benefit of their emails…comic relief.

There is probably at least one HARO query every day that makes me laugh ridiculously hard.

I chose a few of the best I’ve collected during the last several months.

It’s a short week, it’s been a long month, and I think we all need some quality comic relief as we bring February to a close.

So, you’re welcome.

A HARO Query for Every Type of Organization (Even the Weird Ones)

  • Seeking doctor for “best laxative” article: Because what doctor doesn’t want to be know as the foremost expert in laxatives?
  • Calling all sword swallowers!: Dang it! If only I was a sword swallower, I’d be famous!
  • Prostitute from Germany personal essay for print mag: For every German prostitute waiting to tell her story….HARO has you covered.
  • Looking to talk to a porn star who got their start on Reddit: I didn’t even know that was a thing? I’ve obviously been trying to launch my porn career the wrong way (ohhh…so many innuendos). But really I’m joking guys. Don’t worry,Dad!
  • Tips to help cats with depression: Betsy Decillis? Did you post this one?
  • Do you have a tattoo and your partner has the connecting half?: Oh goodness, so many relationship regrets waiting to happen there…
  • Expert on penis injections: Hopefully not answered by the same respondents as the prostitute query.
  • Instagram users of the “oatmeal community”: There’s an oatmeal community? I mean, I love oatmeal, but do we need a community? #oatmealisbae? And the directions on this one: Needs to be an Instagram user who posts photos of oatmeal often.
  • Experts on intercourse tourism: Here’s another one for you Betsy.
  • Experts on uncombable hair syndrome: OMG! I totally have this some days.
  • Seeking senior citizens who pole dance: Life goals here…really! Beyond the club scene, pole dancing takes mad skill and strength. I’m barely coordinated to do it now!

And there you have it. Some of my favorites!

I do encourage you to join HARO, both to support your earned and owned media efforts, and for the mere comic joy on the oddball HARO query (or if you are part of the oatmeal community).

About Laura Petrolino

Laura Petrolino is the chief client officer at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She also is a weekly contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks. Join the Spin Sucks   community.

  • Roberta Patterson

    While I have had some success pitching to writers who have posted requests for sources on HARO, I have not signed up for the ‘subscription’ services where you build a profile, add key words, and then the writers come to you (if what you do is a match). Has anyone had any success with the HARO profile subscription?

    • I honestly don’t think I’ve ever talked to anyone who has. Would definitely be interested.

  • heidicohen


    I agree that HARO is a useful tool regardless of your business.

    Personally, I find the short curated content at the beginning can be fun to read.

    Happy marketing,

    Heidi Cohen
    Actionable Marketing Guide

  • Alli Williams

    I love HARO — if anything it’s a good way for young PR pros who don’t have a ton of experience (like myself) to practice pitching to journalists. I remember seeing the “senior citizens who pole dance” query..that one got passed around the office a few times that day LOL

    • I really wish I had a client I could reply to that one!! LOL! But you are right, great practice on pitching best practices, in a bit of a more structured environment.

  • Nikki Koontz

    HARO has been a huge asset to our University. Often there are questions regarding higher education or financial advise that we can easily pitch to journalists. I highly recommend it! Thanks for the fun read!

    Assistant Director of Marketing for Southern Utah University

    • Oh, that’s great! And such a nice way to get yourself in front of reporter that might not think about turning to you for this kind of advice otherwise!

  • paulakiger

    Everything you said! It’s awesome just for entertainment value (and for “there are people who do THAT?” value and “there are people who do THAT and would be willing to talk about it?” value! As a personal blogger, I have successfully gotten into online publications using HARO. Best tip I ever got was to have a catchy subject line — since the reporters are getting (theoretically) so many responses every little bit helps as far as getting their attention.

    • I actually don’t think they see the subject line now. When the HARO query is sent to the reporter it’s automated based on the query heading

      • paulakiger

        Do you mean to tell me I’ve poured all that creative energy into subject lines for NOTHING?! Darn it! (But thanks for the heads up — fascinating how we can go on old advice for years not realizing it doesn’t help anymore so thanks!).

        • LOL! Sorry. I was like…should I tell her? HAHAHA! !

          • paulakiger

            HA! I know you’re joking (because it’s what we do) but in all seriousness – yes – I want to know! I always would rather know! 🙂

        • LOL!

  • Let us not forget that Ryan Holliday wrote an entire book about responding to these kinds of queries. With the good, comes the bad…and the ridiculous (as you’ve pointed out). I wonder if I could submit my story about being in the Red Light District and having beer bottles thrown at me?

    • Oh definitely, It’s a mixed bag! And yes, I’ll keep my eyes open, I’m sure there is a reporter looking for that story!

      • dc

        I’ve had the worst experiences with HARO especially since the new norm seems to be reporter queries asking for you (the SME) to write extensive responses before getting a commitment from them that you’re the source.

        Is anyone else frustrated by this? Got any workarounds?

  • Hilarious. And I agree HARO is very useful.

    (I’ve been thinking for two days to come up with that!!)

  • Chad Reid

    Cats with depression! That sounds so sad. And I’m all sorts of curious about this intercourse tourism thing.

    I also published a piece on HARO this morning about how my company got published 119 times from HARO stories in a single year. Feel free to check out:

  • Sounds awesome.
    I often forget about it.

  • Merry

    Amazing content shared. Merry Christmas Craft Ideas