In a previous article on using HARO as part of your link building program, I wrapped up with the point that building relationships should be the real goal. This follow up article will describe the ways I’ve been trying to do that.
A quick reminder: HARO — Help a Reporter Out — is a service that matches reporters and bloggers on one side with experts on the other side. The writer gets some authoritative commentary injected into their article. The expert gets a mention and, in many cases, a link.
That first article was about getting some good traction. Many people using this link building tactic start out just shouting into wilderness. But with some attention, you can begin accumulating high domain authority (DA) links.
By the way, an update in the two weeks since I drafted that first article . . . Using that method I’ve added these links:
- Rasmussen.edu – DA = 63
- Vice.com – DA = 92
- Sage.com – DA = 62
- And a handful of lower DA sites.
And last time I mentioned that we had another “big idea” piece in the works. It’s really important that you be able to show that you are truly a thought leader on a given subject. All of our link building success has come from the authority attached to planting one significant flag in the ground, and we were in the process of planting the second — a package of articles and a calculator for setting freelance rates.
The result? The day after that package went live, I pitched it in a relevant HARO query and got this interview and link on Fast Company.
DA = 91, and it’s not bad for the brand either.
Best of all, I think these are all on pages with a lot of contextual relevance to what I’m promoting. The articles are speaking to my desired audience.
Let’s jump forward a few months and suppose you have your HARO activity under control and have your system really humming. If you used the tips I described:
- You have a tracking sheet.
- You have some basic automations in place.
- You are finding ways to optimize those automations.
Hopefully, you’ve even found some optimizations better than my own. (I’d love to hear about them in the comments.)
Now it’s time to move on to HARO user power moves. Essentially, these are all about building on relationships to start getting a flywheel effect.
1. Combine efforts with a HARO buddy
One of mine is to have a HARO buddy who you help get links and who may help you back.
I have a few colleagues who I know are on HARO. But I also know they probably aren’t scanning it regularly like I am.
So, if I see a query relevant to one of those colleagues, I forward the HARO email with a quick note — FYI, item # is a good one for you.
That’s just a good way to keep those relationships warm. It’s also a good way to touch base with clients — past, present, and prospective.
But beyond touching base, there’s also room for my colleagues and I to work together. For example, I’m especially alert to any query on HARO asking for a nomination for “best of” in some category.
That’s when I slow down and think really hard about who I can nominate.
For example, consider this query:
Let’s see . . who do I know?
Oh, right, Nissar Ahamed at CareerMetis. He’s been a big help to me. His podcast is great. He ought to be on that list for sure.
After all, he had me as a guest, so he must know what he’s doing, right? 🙂
So, I fired this off this response to the query.
The result? Nissar got featured prominently on Recruiter.com (DA = 61) on a post that’s getting a lot of social shares.
It was a total surprise for Nissar. I didn’t let him know until it was done as I didn’t get his hopes up.
He was able to push this mention to his large Facebook following, driving even more engagement.
That’s great for Nissar. I don’t get any link there, but I’m glad to help.
Then, a couple months later I noticed this query:
Let’s see. Does that sound like anyone we know?
As I explained in part one, my HARO campaign is all about growing Nation1099, which is a site about building a freelance career.
And because I’ve been using the thought leadership marketing tactics I outlined earlier on LongTailPro, I do in fact have a lot of articles out there about the gig economy that aren’t just content spam but are built to impress.
I fired off an email to Nissar asking him to nominate me, making sure he had all those articles handy. And the result? Now I’m on this list and have another link.
It’s only DA = 46, but it’s over performing on social media. Everyone else on that list is sharing it like crazy. That is helping my direct traffic.
And it’s the first step toward being included on all the influencer lists yet to be written.
2. Upcycle your HARO responses
A couple of my HARO power user moves are still in the experimental stages, and I’m waiting to see the results.
One stems from annoyance about all the excellent replies to HARO queries that I write but that never get used. Is there a way to upcycle them?
HARO responses are generally just a couple paragraphs long. That’s too short for blog posts. But there are lots of places where shorter posts are the norm:
- Quora (which has a blogging platform a lot of people overlook)
- The “share an idea” space on LinkedIn
- Facebook groups
- A Patreon page (which is also a blogging platform at heart when you think about it)
- Industry or niche forums
- Basically any community space where you participate and where a discussion of your topic is welcome
In fact, a few thought-provoking paragraphs on one of those channels might make you stand out, since a lot of them have just turned into places where marketers push links to their content spam.
As a result, I’m experimenting with posting fewer links and more ideas on those forums. Upcycling my HARO activity is a great way to do that. The original query can be the headline, and my answer is the content. That way I get some value out of the HARO responses that don’t get picked up.
A tracking sheet of some kind like I described in Part 1 on this topic can be handy here, so you can find the answers you wrote last month that never got a response.
Another method is to search in:sent haro in Gmail and to look for emails from yourself and those with no replies. Mine those messages for content to upcycle.
3. Leverage your new HARO relationships for guest post opportunities
I’ve been following up on positive responses to develop guest post opportunities, and this has definitely been effective.
Remember how my reply to Recruiter.com got CareerMetis mentioned there? The editor on that content team thanked me for my response, so I followed up with an offer to guest post. And looky here.
DA = 61 for me!
4. Get mentioned in that blogger’s next piece . . . and the next one
When a blogger uses your response to their HARO query, they usually send you a note to let you know.
Now you have the name, title, and email address of a blogger who is creating content in your topic. And you have a basis for reaching out again.
In other words, you have something potentially a lot more valuable than a link. You have a relationship.
To review, in the examples discussed in this article and in Part 1, among my new connections are:
- A contributor on the American Express OPEN Forum blogger network
- The internal content team at a high DA corporate blog in my field
- The internal content team at several low DA startups blog in my field
- A reporter at a network of web properties for millennials, all with DA in the 90s
- A reporter for a glossy business magazine
- A blogger for a career advice site for students, which is a little bit outside my area
- Numerous freelance content marketers odd jobbing on blogs on a wide variety of topics
When a blogger answers my response on HARO to let me know they are going to use it, I thank them and tell them they shouldn’t hesitate to reach out to me for a quote the next time they are working on an article in this topic.
And you know what happens?
Nothing. Because I have no PR game. We’ve reached the limit of my HARO power user moves.
So, I reached out to PR consultant Michelle Garrett again to ask her for a few pointers. How can I do more with these new relationships? Here she is quoted at length:
- Follow them on social media.
“Like, share, and comment on their posts even if they have nothing to do with the topic you’d like to work with them on. This keeps you on their radar so that, hopefully, when they are writing about a topic that’s a fit for you, you’ll come to mind as a great source for that story.”
- Get together
“Take the opportunity to introduce yourself if you’re both attending an industry conference or event. Even though we live in a digital world, meeting face-to-face can still give you an edge.”
- Ask their opinion
“Invite them to contribute to a piece you’re working on. Experts rarely pass up the opportunity to be included in a roundup post. It gives you yet another chance to reach out to them and offer them something of value.”
- Pitch proactively
“When you have an idea for a story that may be a fit for a blogger, suggest it. Offer resources beyond yourself, such as data, images, and other third-parties to interview. Make it easy for them to write the story.”
That last tip is a good reminder for me in particular. If I’m serious about doing thought leadership marketing, then I should be alert to upcoming trends in my industry and be in a position to tip a blogger or reporter to a story they should be following.
No matter what, it’s important to remember that you never know which relationships are going to lead to good things later. The entry-level blogger at a struggling startup today might be a contributing editor at The Harvard Business Review next year.
5. Promote like crazy
Don’t forget to be as aggressive promoting your mentions as you are promoting your own posts. Every time you get a link via HARO, share, share, share on social.
Most of these blog articles, even on high DA sites, don’t get a high page authority because they don’t get much circulation. Making sure these articles are in your social feeds can help with that.
Sharing the articles you appear in is also an easy way to mix things up on your social feeds so they don’t just look like long lists of links promoting your own site.
And don’t forget to @ the blogger and the publication when you do share an article on your social profiles so they can retweet or share them. For example, don’t forget to @ me and LTP (and Michelle) when you share this so that we can help boost that.
I hope these HARO power user moves help you find success building links and building valuable PR mentions. Let me know your ideas in the comments.
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