How To Write a Good HARO Query: 6 Tips

How can a journalist write a good HARO query?


To help you write a good HARO query, we asked writers and marketing experts for their best piece of advice. From being thorough to concisely telling the requirements at the top, there are several insights that may help you write a great query.

Here are six tips to help you get top notch insights for your next article:

  • Be Thorough
  • Identify Yourself to Establish Trust
  • List the Length Requirements
  • Provide Detail About the Story’s Angle
  • Be Creative in the Subject Line
  • Concisely Tell the Requirements at the Top

Be Thorough in Your Query

Journalists can write a good HARO query by being thorough. For instance, in the past, I’d forgotten to ask for the Twitter handle. In this case, I want to send the published content promotion to the experts who contributed. However, without their Twitter handles, I cannot notify them about the published content and ask them for a retweet. Cover all your bases. For instance, do you want more social media handles? Do you expect the experts to link to you after publication? Do you expect a certain minimum word length? Ultimately, you should make a list of what you need from experts and ask for those requirements in your query.

Janice Wald, Mostly Blogging

Identify Yourself on HARO to Establish Trust

Journalists understandably want to know details of their contributors (what they do, to their qualifications, bio, and social media handles). However, some do not extend that same courtesy to their respondents; therefore, a good HARO query should include an introduction and the contributor’s past publications. The internet can be a confusing and sometimes precarious place, and many people are weary of how or where their responses may be used.

Journalists who wish to establish trust can go a long way in accomplishing this by identifying themselves and the publication they are working with. In addition, by stating how the article will be used in their description section, they can put respondents at ease, establish trust, and increase the amount of quality responses.

Omid Semino, Diamond Mansion

Check out this blog post if you are interested in learning about the benefits of using HARO for journalists.

List the Desired Length

When answering HARO queries, it can be difficult to determine what length of response is ideal. While there are obviously subjects that require more detail, sometimes you can still end up under or overshooting what the query submitter had in mind. Rather than repeatedly having to guess what the desired length is, it would be much more convenient if it became common practice for query submitters to simply lay out their expectations.

Kate Lipman, embrace Scar Therapy

Provide Detail About the Story’s Angle

One of the most effective things a journalist can do is to explain what perspective around a story they are writing about. For me, this always helps to inform my approach in responding. For example, if a journalist simply states that they’re looking for input on a story about eating farmed fish, that doesn’t do much good for the source. What about farmed fish do they want to know exactly? Are they writing about how farmed fish is good for you? Bad for you? Destructive to the environment?

In short, by providing more context about the perspective of the article, journalists will get more on-topic and relevant pitches for their story. It takes the guesswork out of the equation for experts, and prevents journalists’ inboxes from flooding with lousy off-topic pitches.

John Ross, Test Prep Insight

Be Creative in the Subject Line

The subject line is a chance to write a snappy headline, one that incentivizes the submitter to not only read the entire query, but read it with the expectation that it will be a worthy one to respond to. When you write a good query, you will increase your chances of gathering responses that aim to be equally as creative. Ultimately, you are looking for colorful quotes, so be colorful with your queries.

Joel Jackson, Lifeforce

Concisely Explain the Requirements in the Query

Journalists should stick to one question that covers the details and requirements upfront. The queries with multiple follow ups are likely to be passed in lieu of questions that can be answered faster. For example, put said requirements into the question, like “Seeking MDs to tell us their best tip for eating healthy.” Additionally, “One tip” queries are appreciated, such as “What’s your best tip for hiring candidates that will likely do well at your company?” In short, being short hits the spot.

Jeff Goodwin, Orgain

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