by Sarah Hamaker, reluctant marketer

Being an expert can be fruitful in many ways, such as introducing you to new audiences and building your credibility. The Internet and email has made it easy to connect with writers to offer your services as an expert in your field or subject matter.

My favorite source is HARO: Help A Reporter Out. Registration for both sources and journalists is free, and as a source, you can select which categories you want to receive call-outs in, such as lifestyles, business, sports, etc. The reporters write for online and print publications, TV and radio, and even look for book material.

You’ll then start receiving emails listing stories for which writers are looking for sources. The writer generally provides the outlet, topic, requirements and questions for potential sources. All you have to do is respond within the time frame by email, and the reporter will contact you for more information.

Sounds simple, right? It is, but as you can imagine, journalists receive many responses to their queries. Let’s talk about how to make your response stand out and have a better chance at being chosen.

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles/

Follow the guidelines. For heaven’s sake, don’t make the rookie mistake of not reading the query carefully to ensure you qualify. If the reporter wants someone from New York City, don’t respond unless you actually live or work there.

Craft your answer carefully. Take the time to polish your reply and provide as much information as you can in the initial email. I always add that I can provide additional info if requested after answering the questions.

Think about the outlet. If they’re writing for online, bullet point answers might work better. If it’s for TV, mention any props you might have to illustrate your answer.

Provide a short, descriptive bio. They want to know if you’re the right expert for their story, so tailor your bio for each query. For some, you might want to highlight your personal experience. For others, you might want to push your academic achievements.

Here are a few tips if you are picked as a source.

Respond to emails in a timely fashion. It does you no good to send a great initial email if you drop the ball on the follow up! Don’t answer queries right before you go on vacation. Make sure you’re available directly after the deadline too.

If you are included in the article, help promote it. Tweet it, post it on social media and your website, send it family and friends, include it in your newsletter—anything you can do to promote your mention is good for your own success as an expert.

I’ve made it a goal to answer at least one query per month through HARO. Here’s a list of my successes in pitching to HARO requests:

While I can’t know for sure, I suspect that seeing this list on my website has led to other “expert” opportunities—and free publicity!

Next month, we’ll talk about how to come up with a marketing plan for the new year.

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