If you’re reading this and are a PR pro, it’s a good bet you use (nay, scour!) HARO emails daily. For the uninitiated, HARO, or Help A Reporter Out, is a fantastic (and free) PR product started by social media rockstar Peter Shankman. HARO provides several daily emails with media requests for experts and sources on a variety of topics, allowing PR pros to connect their clients and, ideally, secure positive publicity.
Interestingly enough, HARO actually has another beneficial use for PR clients, in particular those who are facing or about to experience a PR crisis. See this screenshot from a recent HARO daily update:
Pretty straightforward, right? The reporter wants sources to talk about their experiences using Square in transactions. Beyond this request, however, lies tremendous value for the PR team handling Square’s publicity, and for any other similarly situated client.
If you see your client’s name appear in a HARO query, then you have a leg up on knowing a possible negative headline or critical story is coming your way. You also know who the reporter is, what outlet they report for, when the story will come out, and what the topic(s) will be. In other words, you have all the intelligence you need to prepare a smart response well before the story ever runs.
More importantly, you have time to contact the reporter on behalf of your client and offer your version of events. A winning principle in reputation management is defining the terms of the debate before naysayers do — so remember to use HARO for this quick and effective tactic.