11 ways to craft better HARO and ProfNet pitches

Like its cousin, ProfNet, Help a Reporter Out can be a great way to reach journalists—but you have to stay on topic, and the race goes to the swift.

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I was writing about South Korean textile plants in the Russian Far East which import lower-wage Chinese seamstresses to produce garments for export to the U.S. Via PR Newswire’s ProfNet database, I asked for an expert on the U.S. textile import quotas.

You guessed it. I was flooded with replies, some helpful, others merely desperate to get the Times’ attention. One guy wanted me to interview him about an Israeli-Palestinian joint venture on the West Bank. Trouble was, I was in Vladivostok, 5,000 miles away as the crow flies.

I often have similar experiences when seeking sources through Help a Reporter Out, which I use more often than ProfNet these days. Be it known that I am grateful for all relevant replies, even when I can’t use them. PR pros put thought and time into getting back to me, and typically I get far more emails than I can respond to.

Nevertheless, as the guy on the receiving end, I offer these few tips about responding to requests for expertise on HARO and ProfNet:

1. Tell it in three paragraphs.

HARO founder Peter Shankman (who sold the company to Vocus in 2010) says you should write just three paragraphs:

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