Cheeky Secret #12
Become the Go-To Expert In Your Field by Going To the Experts
Did you hear about the time when I was the featured guest on the Saucy Sisters radio show? It wasn't because I am an expert on Oktoberfest, their topic of the day (indeed, no I am not. Having never sipped e'en a drop of ale, and hailing from the wide provinces of the American west, I am actually the farthest thing from an Oktoberfest expert). It wasn't because the Saucy Sisters spend all their spare minutes trolling the web waves for a bright, perky doll of a baker like myself (though, indeed, if they were looking for such a thing, I'd hope they'd consider me as such). It wasn't even because I knew a sister of their sister or a friend of their friend.
The way I became a radio guest on the Saucy Sisters radio program was HARO. Created by the high-energied PR guy, Peter Shankman, HARO stands for HELP A REPORTER OUT. It's a way for reporters to access potential sources for magazine and newspaper articles, radio shows, and television shows. It's free to join. Once on the list, you can expect three emails a day M-F from Mr. Shankman indicating all of the days source needs. Most submissions on the daily email list will include:
(1) The name of the publication they are working for or hope to submit the article to.
(2) Specific needs the reporter has for the article/show
(3) Clear details about the type of people/experts/sources needed. This can include anything from teenagers with a long third toe to techno-bloggers who reside in Tahiti. If you are a stay-at-home-mom blogger who thinks HARO is a waste of your time, don't be too quick to write HARO off. Just because "experts" are needed for many articles, doesn't mean highly educated well-traveled gals in the workplace are the only ones being saught. Au contraire. I happen to know a stay-at-home-gal who just so happened to appear on the Saucy Sisters Radio show. (wink.wink.)
(4) Email and/or other contact information for the reporter. Don't go hog wild, emailing every reporter your resume and headshot, but don't be too timid here, either. If you find that you can satisfy most of the reporters requested needs, then reply as quickly as possible to their HARO ad.
Your reply should be bold. It should clearly and concisely express your interest in being a source for thier article. Your email reply should indicate a detail or two about yourself, as it pertains to their article. Sell yourself. Tell the reporter why you will make the best source for their topic. Never, never diminunize yourself. Don't respond to a professional reporter with sentences like, "I just got started into blogging and only my Aunt Kay actually likes my cooking" or "My little blog is really cute. You should see it. Five people follow it."
Rather, select wording which relates your greatest strengths (even if they, in actuality, aren't too terribly strong)... "I come from a rich background of food and family, and feel confident that I can share my experiences in a unique and interesting way" or "As a relatively new blogger, I've already begun to make my mark on an increasingly crowded scene. With a growing number of blog followers, I believe you'll find that I can relate to your audience as both a new blog writer, and one who is finding success through the medium."
Thousands of people are part of the HARO network, so don't be discouraged if you don't get a response from a reporter right away. Continue to hone your methods, your passions, and your writing. After all, one of the greatest secrets to success is to work tirelessly to get past barriers and get yourself on the scene. But, of course, any reporter will tell you that.