Everything You’ve Ever Wanted to Know About HARO

by Marian Schembari on July 6, 2011

Ever seen my Press page?

If you haven’t, there are dozens of links to features and quotes in publications from all over the world, including TIME, Real Simple Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and CNN.

While nothing about me or this site screams front-page news, it IS surprisingly easy to land yourself top media coverage, whether it’s online, in print or on TV/radio.

The magic resource I use is a funky little newsletter called HARO.

What is HARO?

HARO stands for Help a Reporter Out and is a three-times-daily email with a mission to connect journalists with sources. More than 100,000 experts are registered with HARO and more than 1,200 media queries are sent weekly to a global audience.

Emails are sent in the morning, afternoon and evening, with queries categorized by topics like business, lifestyle, health, etc. Queries range from journalists looking for an expert in business insurance to a middle-aged woman in Detroit who’s been through a divorce. Queries are varied, and can be incredibly specific or incredibly vague. Each request contains the topic, journalist name, category, media outlet and deadline. It also includes an email address provided by HARO that expires the day and hour of deadline, meaning you have to be quick about responding! (Sometimes the journalist will provide their own personal email, but it’s rare.)

HARO is an incredibly valuable tool for any promotional campaign as members come from publications like Glamour, Mashable, the Huffington Post, and more.

The beginning of the emails include a list of queries, which are then linked to longer explanations of sources needed. The emails look something like this…

How to Respond to a HARO Request (and actually get a response)

Now, in response to those of you who know all about HARO, but haven’t found it valuable (yet), let me tell you something – HARO is only valuable if you’re valuable. Meaning it pays to only email if it’s appropriate and make sure you approach the journalist in the right way.

And even for those of you who aren’t signed up yet, here’s a handy guide on best practices for responding to requests to ensure you actually get a response and coverage:

Ensure you’re a good fit. Read the query carefully. Don’t respond to a post that asks for wedding photographers in France if you’re based in Australia.

Be enthusiastic! You’re promoting your product/business/website and the best way to capture the journalist’s attention is to show how much you love and believe in what you offer. Don’t just send a press release or a list of stats. Start off by saying how you came across their ad and just had to email because. Do not – under any circumstances – launch immediately into a pitch. Journalists get dozens, if not hundreds, of responses to their queries. Stand out by really caring about your project and writing something personalized.

Answer the questions. Never say, “visit my website to find out more.” Put all the info they ask for within the pitch without providing extra work. Make it incredibly easy for them to get back in touch and/or schedule an interview.

Keep it short. Don’t send them a whole media kit, press release or essay about your business unless they ask. Unless they’re pulling quotes directly from responses (which they’ll specify), you’ll get an email back asking for more details should they need it.

Think outside the box. If your product is different from others on the market, spell out why. If the reporter asks for opinions on dating, don’t give the same tired old tips. The media loves controversy, different points of view and discussion. The best way to get publicity is to be different, so always have that in the back of your head.

Write a compelling headline. While simply putting “HARO request” in your subject line is fine, if the reporter is getting tons of responses, you wont stand out. Let’s say the article topic is vegetarian cooking in Auckland and you own a school that specializes in just that – list in the subject line by saying, “I own a vegetarian cooking school in Auckland.” Some queries will tell you exactly what to put in your subject line so do make sure to follow instructions if they’re available.

Bullet points = awesome. If the reporter is looking for tips, bullet points are the way to go. It makes your pitch easy to read and if said tips are useful, it’s a great way to highlight your expertise and get an quick response.

Provide contact information. While the reporter will obviously have your email address, end your message with a phone number, website, Twitter handle, etc. This makes it as easy as possible for them to get in touch.

Quality over quantity. Sometimes you can respond to multiple queries in a day, sometimes you might not find anything for weeks. Remember to be patient and only apply to queries that are relevant. Your efforts will pay off!

Respond in a timely manner. If the journalist gets back to you and wants to schedule an interview or have you answer a few questions via email, respond as soon as you can. Ninety-nine percent of the time, journalists are on deadline, so if you want to be featured you need to be on your toes and quick to provide help.

Miscellaneous Tip That Makes Life More Manageable: Send HARO emails to a separate email folder and sift through them all at once instead of as they come. This tactic will make responding to queries more manageable.

Anyone have good HARO stories? Ever been featured somewhere super cool thanks to my favorite service?


I’m in love. “Unconditionally and irrevocably.” With a potential job.

As I write this I’m in my pajamas working from home – as per usual. I love what I do. I love working for myself… But damn.

Here’s the story:

This past month has been a little rocky. I left my part-time day job to devote myself 100% to freelancing. I was at that point where I was getting enough business that I could afford to work for myself, but not enough to live “comfortably.” But I did it anyway and took that leap.

Then I found out that I need to leave my current living situation, resulting in the first time ever in the history of the world where the love of my life (aka my roommate, Desi) and I will no longer be living together. This is depressing in and of itself. But add to that moving costs, finding another apartment (which will most likely be significantly less awesome than where I am now) and the fact that I couldn’t find a cosigner for my culinary school loan, and my dreams have been all but tabled.

Basically I was a teeny tiny upset.


Then I wake up this morning and it’s 55 degrees and the sun is shining and not only do I have a seriously awesome apartment lead (it’s a sublet and there’s a piano) but the first thing I see on Craigslist is an ad for this job… at… wait for it… THE INSTITUTE OF CULINARY EDUCATION:

The Public Relations Associate position is a full-time position, reporting to the company’s Director of Sales & Marketing. The ideal candidate is eager to burst onto the Public Relations and food-scene. The candidate should be immersed in or passionately interested in the world of food, cooking, chefs, and restaurants – and appreciate the value of education.

By the Hammer of Thor!

I’m not even kidding you. This job exists. And it was literally hand crafted for me, I’m sure of it.

My Application

I’ve been spending all day working on an incredibly personal email to the Director of Sales and Marketing, crafting a bad ass cover letter, touching up my long neglected resume, tweeting about it, finding every possible spec of information on ICE’s online presence, writing this blog post as a supplement to my application AND creating a marketing plan. Too much? Honestly, I could care less right now.

Here’s a fun little excerpt from my email to the press office: “I’ve attached a more ‘traditional’ cover letter outlining my accomplishments and qualifications based on exactly what you’re looking for, but I just wanted this email to be a little more personal, a little more passionate than your stereotypical job application. And in case you want to see some of my ideas in action, I’ve attached a short proposal on how ICE can continue to grow in the media….

We can have videos on DICED of students preparing certain recipes and asking questions, interviews with chef instructors, book giveaways, contests/coupons on the Facebook fan page, tweets with special tips and sneak peeks for followers… the opportunities online are endless, fun and beyond exciting!”

Think I have a shot? Everyone keep their fingers crossed and if you know anyone at ICE, pass my info along, will ya?

Will keep you posted!


Rachel Kaufman of Mediabistro’s Media Jobs Daily recently wrote a post on the Facebook ads I ran this past August. While flattered that Mediabistro (Mediabistro bitches!) finds the story awesome enough to write about, I took issue with the general tone of the article. The title itself reads: “Woman Buys A Facebook Job Ad And Sort Of Gets Her Wish” and Kaufman writes, “But isn’t this story kind of like wanting to be a basketball star and ending up as a sportswriter or coach? Or wanting to be a chef and ending up doing PR campaigns for other chefs?” Maybe, I guess. But if Kaufman read even a little of my blog she would know that I no longer work at Jane Wesman PR. Plus, that is just like the media world to look down at a boutique firm because it’s not a big-corporate-conglomerate-that-puts-out-hundreds-of-books-and-makes-butt-tons-of-money-and-has-a-fancy-slash-prestigious-name.

Now, I can’t argue with what she says. My dream was to work for a big publisher, but only because I didn’t really know what else was out there for someone who wanted to go into publishing. In my limited (but enthusiastic) view, a job as an editorial assistant was the Be All and End All of publishing jobs. I hadn’t even considered book publicity until my Rodale buddy suggested it. Was I dissapointed I didn’t land a “sweet” gig at a fancy publishing house? Of course. Do I regret it? Not even a little bit.

In my cockiness, I’m pretty sure that if I spent a little longer looking I would have gotten my “dream job”. But after my interview at JWPR I realized that going outside the major houses would a) paysmore and b) give me better experience. Instead of being somebody’s “publicity assistant” I was actually a publicist. That being said, after three months I realized that I actually rock out more effectively on my own. And there was that little issue with enrolling in culinary school. So maybe the job I spent $150 getting wasn’t perfect for me, but I now have first-hand experience with book publicity, met some amazing people, work for myself, make more money and have clients that include major publishers, newspapers and authors.

So take that, Mediabistro.


Get Found on Google

by Marian Schembari on October 26, 2009

I mentioned this a while back and figured I’d go into a little more detail on how exactly to get your name out there. By now, we all know about the social media aspect, but here’s the thing: if you can’t be found online, you don’t exist.Fullscreen capture 10262009 65440 PM

Because there are hundreds of people applying for that one job, if it’s not easy to read your resume, find your contact information, etc then HR is going to give up and go the next person. You need to make it as easy as possible for people to find you. Not comfortable putting your contact info online? I wrote another post addressing that specifically, because I had a story. But now is not the time. Lesson for today is: how to exist online.

5 easy, but time consuming, steps:

  1. Google yourself. Make sure to use quotes, ex: “Marian Schembari” (that prevents Google from showing Marian Jones and James Schembari who happen to be on the same page). Are all the sites on the first page you? If not, on to step two:
  2. If you have a super common name, you might be out of luck. But if you can find a way to get yourself online along with keywords for your industry, that could definitely help. Ex: “‘Marian Schembari’ and publishing”. Now, I think I’m the only Marian Schembari in existence, but you get the point.
  3. Create a web page. Doesn’t have to be complicated, but I say the prettier the better. I like 1&1 for website hosting. Include your resume, contact info, references and work samples if applicable.
  4. Create as many profiles as you can: LinkedIn, Google, ZoomInfo, Jigsaw, Naymez, Ning, etc etc. Because these are all big sites, they’ll show up first on the page. It takes awhile for your own personal homepage or blog to show on a search, but if you’re linking to it left and right, it will pop up quicker.
  5. Blog. Use your free time during the job search to become an expert. This blog is about publishing, but the job hunt doesn’t differ much from industry to industry. My friends are in acting so they should learn about how the economy is effecting theater prices, stage manager layoffs, movie reviews, whatever. Not only does it get your name out there, but it gives you something to talk about during interviews and establishes you as a valuable resource.
  6. Guest blog. Find people with similar sites or blogs based on your interests and ask nicely if you can post. Many wont respond and many will say no, but just having one or two a) highlights your writing and b) puts your name out there! And you can link back to your online resume… When I Google myself (yes, yes I do) one of the first things that pops up is Debbie Stier’s post on HarperStudio. Because tons more people read her than me, it’s almost always first on the list. That being said, she links back to me so it works.

So there you go. Make it easy for employers to find you, a more detailed work history you can’t fit on a resume, comments from other employers (email them for quotes, if you left on good terms, I’ve found they always want to help) and your contact info. By doing this you’re showing them who you are and that you’re a serious contender for a position.


National Reading Group Month Kicks Off!

by Marian Schembari on October 22, 2009

Last night I attended the Women’s National Book Association event to kick off National Reading Group Month. At three hours long, I was more than a little hesitant, but after listening to five BRILLIANT women talk about their books, well, I’m glad I went. So just a brief post to promote what looks like a fabulous group of books:

Eva Hoffman: Appassionata – American pianist becomes involved with a Chechen radical leader. I loved listening to Hoffman read excerpts out loud, what a beautiful speaking voice! Sigh. I want an accent.

Christina Baker Kline: Bird in Hand – A four-perspective novel set in the suburbs about a mother who accidentally kills a young boy and the series of events that result from this one incident. This is Kline’s fourth novel, which is apparently very different from the others (and got great reviews).

C.M. Mayo: The Last Prince of the Mexican Empire – A little known (true) story about… Wait for it… The last prince of the Mexican Empire, the young Austrian Maximilian von Hapsburg. A lovely and very funny woman who’s knowledge on the subject is baffling. Took her ten years to research!

perfectionJulie Metz: Perfection: A Memoir of Betrayal and Renewal – I want to be this woman’s publicist. Metz is about to become incredibly famous once her appearance on Oprah airs, so I’m counting my blessings that I got to see her before the hype. A memoir about her husband’s shocking death and the subsequent discoveries of his mistresses. Her reading of the first chapter gave me chills.

Roxana Robinson: Cost – On the complicated relationships we have with our parents, with what seems like a lot of layers. Alzheimer’s, neurosurgery and addiction, all of which were meticulously researched. One of my favorite parts of the night was hearing about Robinsons discovery that her character was a heroin addict. Just goes to show how real some characters are – that often the authors themselves cannot control them. cost

I’m ashamed to admit, but  besides my parents, I’ve never heard an author speak about their work before. Was amazing to hear about the process and gave me a new found perspective on the difficulties (mainly emotional) that ensue. Basically, I could never write a novel.

Now of course I have to add these all to to my ever growing stack of books to read. Does anyone in publishing not have the same stack? I think not.