Free publicity is an inexpensive marketing tool that can help to increase the awareness of a company, and consequently the sales of its goods and/or services. It’s especially useful for small businesses, which have fewer resources at their disposal. However, larger companies have been better able to land mentions in the press than smaller companies, because they’re able to hire public relations firms to assist them in doing so. Now, a free social media service called  Help a Reporter Out (HARO) helps to level the playing field. A small company has the same opportunity as a large company to be covered by well known media outlets, thanks to HARO.


HARO is free referral service that connects journalists with sources (also referred to as experts because according to HARO, “Everyone’s an expert at something”). Those who sign up as news sources are emailed three or four times a day with queries from journalists. A typical email from HARO includes several queries arranged into categories such as Biotech and Healthcare, Business and Finance, Education, General, High Tech, Lifestyle and Fitness, Public Policy and Government, and Travel. Each query includes the journalist’s name, the publication, the deadline, a generic email address, and a brief description of what the journalist is seeking. Media outlets on HARO include notable national news outlets such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Today Show, as well as lesser known websites, newspapers, magazines, blogs, and book authors.

In a recent video post, Derek Johnson – Founder and CEO of Tatango – a group SMS service – attests to the benefits of HARO saying “it has been a huge asset to Tatango”. Johnson’s small company of five has been covered in major publications like the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek, and on well known websites such as TechCrunch,, and

As an SEO/SEM guy here at Atomic DC, I should also mention that gaining publicity will help to improve the search results ranking of a company’s website. If you (assuming you’re a business) decide to use HARO as a source, be sure to include the link to your company’s website with your response. Nowadays, print edition articles are also published on the internet for online readers. If you’re mentioned in an article, online readers will be able to link back to your website. Backlinks, links from other websites to your website or web page, help to increase the ranking of your website in search engine results.

Also, when replying to queries, keep in mind that the journalists are probably receiving a lot of responses to their queries, and focus on providing them with the information they’re looking for. Avoid promoting your business, and keep your responses brief and to the point.

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