Founded in 2008 by serial entrepreneur Peter Shankman, HARO (Help A Reporter Out) quickly became one of the fastest-growing social media services in North America. HARO redefined how journalists found sources for their media outlets and the service became a crucial tool for the media industry. In June 2010, Vocus (which also owns PRWeb) acquired HARO and the service continued to develop rapidly.
HARO has been known for its sense of community since the very beginning. Even with the acquisition by Vocus, HARO has still kept a grassroots feel. Two editors are behind the scenes ensuring the service runs smoothly. Yes, you read that correctly— there are only two editors bringing you the HARO queries you know and love three times a day, five times a week.
On a weekly basis, Lacey Stallard and Sumih Chi read and edit 900 plus queries and interact with reporters from the top news outlets around the world. Lacey and Sumih also provide support to HARO’s 135,000 colorful sources, which range from small businesses, public relations practitioners, entrepreneurs, and on.
This post will provide you with an inside look on life as a HARO editor through Lacey and Sumih’s eyes.
Laura: Please tell the BloggingPRWeb readers a little about yourselves.
Lacey: My name is Lacey and I am from Abingdon, Virginia. I studied Business Administration with a concentration in Marketing at the College of Charleston and graduated in 2010. I moved to DC a little over a year ago and even though I miss Charleston very much, I have had a blast familiarizing myself with a new city full of tons of things to do. In my spare time I enjoy trying my hand at cooking, taking a lunch time run, traveling to visit my college friends, and wining and dining at all the great restaurants DC has to offer.
Sumih: My name is Sumih Chi and I was born and raised in Takoma Park, Maryland, the epicenter of liberalism. For undergrad, I attended North Carolina State University in Raleigh, North Carolina. I majored in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a minor in International Studies. I also had the opportunity to study abroad in Prague, Czech Republic and backpacked all of Europe. I enjoy hiking, traveling, beer festivals, live music, art museums, reading, street art and exploring underground dive bars. I also have a secret obsession with skyline views of any city.
Laura: What is your favorite part about working for HARO?
Lacey: I enjoy reading the success stories that come out of HARO’s services. The HARO community is full of so many enthusiastic professionals, so being able to connect the HARO community with one another and assist them with their jobs is really rewarding.
Sumih: My favorite part about working for HARO is knowing that I am facilitating the connection between reporters and their sources. I also enjoy interacting with our customers and helping them to utilize HARO, so that they can finish their stories on deadline.
Laura: What has been the biggest challenge you have faced working for HARO?
Lacey: Dealing with individuals that abuse the service has been tough. Having a great service like this that is free is rare. It is unfortunate one person’s actions can ruin a good thing for everyone, but we work to get to the bottom of these situations to keep things running as smoothly as possible.
Sumih: The biggest challenge I have faced as a HARO editor has been to inform our users that their queries do not meet our guidelines. As HARO editors, Lacey and I review hundreds of queries a day and are often inundated with content. We still have strict guidelines to follow, and at times trying to find the balance between reviewing, while working with our rules can be difficult.
Laura: Have you learned anything interesting about the public relations and/or media industries through your work with HARO?
Lacey: I think it is really awesome that HARO can help businesses gain media exposure for no cost. My favorite success stories are the ones where small businesses received coverage from large publications simply by submitting a great pitch to the reporter. It really goes to show that you do not always need to cut out a huge PR/Marketing budget to gain additional media exposure. Businesses can go a long way just by utilizing services like HARO and social media.
Sumih: I have learned a lot about the media industry by reviewing the many media outlets that use our service. Prior to working with HARO, I did not know that BlogTalk radio existed. I also was not aware of the different ways that businesses can increase their publicity using the services that Vocus acquired, such as PRWeb and HARO. Through working with HARO, I have learned how imperative social networking and social media are to PR campaigns. Many organizations rely on social media as their primary way to increase publicity.
Laura: Do you have any tips or advice for HARO sources and reporters to better their results with our service?
Lacey: My advice would be to make it part of your daily routine to read over the HARO editions for any queries that could be relevant to you. You never know who could be looking to speak with someone in your area of expertise. Also, whether you are submitting a query or pitching a reporter, always be specific. Reporters do not want to waste time sorting through irrelevant pitches and sources do not want to waste time developing a pitch for a vague query. This benefits everyone in the end.
Sumih: Reporters should keep their queries short and simple and be sure to clarify exactly what you need from the sources. Choose your deadline carefully, and understand that once your deadline has passed you will no longer receive pitches past that date and time.
Laura: What is the best way for readers to get in touch with you if they have any questions about HARO?
Lacey: Readers can email me: lstallard(at)vocus(dot)com.
Sumih: Readers can either email me: schi(at)vocus(dot)com or can tweet questions to @sumihchi.