Introduction to HARO
So I thought what we would do is we'd sort of do another quick case study I was going to go through something that I think illustrates a lot of the a lot of the same stuff as um a lot of the stuff that we talked about in day one but but it's going to be more more specific so this was something that I did with my book so I wrote this book that I thought was primarily a book about media criticism that was what what was thoughtful and I spent years researching and I wanted to sort of show people all this stuff that's going on and then I realized like unless you're a journalist like nobody cares on dh so how can I make it clear that everyone needs to know about this and that there's something in it for everyone and that you can wrap you have to read the book to fully understand the problem but you don't need to know you don't need to fully understand the problem to understand the book so I wanted teo sort of create this example or a microcosm of what's in the book that people could talk ab...
out insurance so I decided I needed to do something that encapsulated the kind of media manipulation and vulnerabilities that I talk about in the book in one salient example so what I did I forgot about this stuff so there's a book site my sight on then we'll do it this is called the help help a reporter out case study so what I did was there is a service that I have advise my clients to use for a long time called help a reporter out dot com there's a lot of different versions of this there's a more expensive one called profit net which is is worth using there's one called source bottle which is primarily international there's another one called reporter connection and basically thie services exist because a lot of the forces that we talked about yesterday which is reporters have to publish a lot of stuff they're very busy they don't have expense accounts and budgets and they can't travel around looking for sources they've got to turn these stories out and how did they find out who to quote in their stories how did they find the experts teo use and how do they do so on such a short notice and so what they do is they use these services so they go hey, I'm writing a trend piece about x who wants to be my expert and people can volunteer and say like, oh, I'll be your expert like I'm looking for a tech company in the food space and then you say, hey, I want to tell you about over food I need to talkto you know, subscription based business and then you raise your hand and whatever so obviously that's great from a marketing standpoint from a quality of the newsstand points a little alarming that our experts are not are not experts they're just, you know, self promoting volunteers and so what I decided to do is I would I would illustrate how this service works the general public doesn't know that this stuff happens by pretending to be an expert on anything and every inquiry that I could so with the help of a virtual assistant I responded and again so the book's coming out in july I started this in november or december of the previous year and pretend and started answering every queer that I could I develop these scripts and I practiced and I would just I would say ok, what is this reporter want to hear? I will I will pretend that I know about that thing and I will try to answer the queer in the most interesting way and see if they print it on dh I thought the book is primarily about the problems with online journalism and so I thought I would embarrass like the huffington post and all these blog's well that's not what happened so uh I was ultimately quoted in the new york times, abc news, cbs, msnbc, reuters, the wire service and more than a dozen other blog's even after this all blew up only six issued actual corrections on dh then the story about this story was picked up in more than seventy five media outlets, including the front page of the ahu, where did millions of views having imposed ford's in business inside of the new york observer pointer the times picking and they did twenty five hundred comments across these various things, more than a million and a half pages, and then it sort of believe it or not, from their spiraled out of control even further, the total cost of this was zero. And in the stories that I was quoted as an expert on, I'm tryingto trying to remember what they were. So the new york times I was an expert about vinyl records, which, of course, I know nothing. Nothing about I was an insomniac for abc news. I was a germophobe for another article. I was quoted as an expert about boat winterization, uh, and all these other outlets. And at a certain point, I kind of got tired of doing. And so I just and I realized it was actually easier. Tohave my assistant pretend to be me because he could make things up in a way that was less self conscious, like I was. I was having trouble being absurd enough and taking advantage of how sort of unsuspecting and and uh, careless this this whole system was he could just make things up better than I could. So he remembered he made up this story about how when I was a teenager, I worked at burger king and I would like uh and I would see people like sneeze in these sandwiches and it was so upsetting to me and of course it was just like it was complete fiction. But you know, the next thing I know, the next morning I wake up and there's a google alert for my name and it's like a twenty twenty story from not twenty twenty and abc news story from like, a science reporter where I'm the lead expert, I'm like the lead of this story like the new york times one it's like, you know, my parents are crying when he saw you in the new york times like congratulations, we didn't know you loved vinyl records. It was actually from reading this article that I learned what lp stood for because, like I've never listened to a record of my life on dso again, I thought I thought there was problems with online journalism. What I realize is that the economics of online journalism have fully, uh, fully been embraced by offline journalism as well, this is the new york times reporter who wrote about me was a freelancer on a tight deadline doing a sort of a trumped up trend piece about the resurgence of vinyl records and he needed a source and it was a lot easier to just post on this service than to call oppa vinyl record store and say, hey, could you refer us to your you know, your most loyal customer and then they try to chase that guy down and then that guy gives him a quote and then he has to fact check it it was way easier just to sort of say whatever seemed true and the fact that I work for american apparel and I was living in new orleans at the time it was like that's fact checking enough even though of course all these people could have googled my name and seeing that I was writing a book about media manipulation so I think the more I'll go into a little bit more but the moral of this story is that if I making stuff up about things that I have literally no knowledge of whatsoever I can get quoted in the paper of record in the united states and drive you know, tons of awareness about my name and products what do you think you guys could do actually have an interest in products on dh actually cultivating relationships with reporters so the best part of the story was the serve the the owner of the service his name is peter shankman he was the founder he was stunned that someone could manipulate this process even though the tagline for help a reporter out is no such thing as free publicity's e there is with horrow on dh so we ended up we had this huge debate on google hangout because he had a very upset reaction about it and he got so angry in the debate that you know, when you're like moving around on skype and you're moving too much and it starts the glitch, he froze the monitor in this very angry position this is him and really stabbing his computer monitor on dh then we're just laughing at him and so it ended up getting picked up in all these places multiple stories in the new york observer um uh all over the world um journalism in one idiot ruin for everyone and what he means is why am I giving away the secret that anyone could get in the media for any reason using this service? And so this is sort of a version of the pitch that I would send, so I would say like, you know, hey, I'm ryan holiday our sorry I'm with you know, I would I would either use like my blog's or sometimes I would say american para whatever I wouldn't need to say, hey, I'm with ex company I would link to the website that does whatever um we say what we would do on dh then I would show other areas that our company has been featured, so no one wants to be the first person to cover your company unless it's some enormous scoop and then, you know, I'd love to be in touch regarding your post on haro. How can I help you get the information that you need for your piece, which is sort of saying not like, look, I have this agenda that I'm trying t push across, but I know your here's how these services work, in my view. So the journalist has either written literally written the story already where they've written in their head and they know, like, ok, look to be balanced, I have to talked like let's say, I'm writing this piece about vinyl records, I need to have someone who loves vinyl records, and I need to have some digital music expert that hates vinyl records, right? So, you know, in your head what you sort of need, those quotes to be, and then you're saying, you're not saying, hey, please tell me what I want to hear. But you know what you want and so what I'm trying to signal to them is look, I know what game you're playing and I'm happy to go along with it and the way these services usually work is for instance with haro they send out I believe three emails a day like one of the morning one in the afternoon and one at night I would just set an alert in my phone and I would check my email right when they came and then I would respond to a cz many as I could so I was the first person to respond because like if you put up if you say I'm a new york times reporter looking for a source about vinyl records that's going to get a lot of enquiries but if you're the first one and you're saying look here's what's interesting about me I'm legit they're going to be like okay, I'm gonna just do this one and then throw out the rest so I ended up getting quoted in all these places with essentially just this just this script in only two or three cases that I have to talk to the reporters on the phone yeah sorry to interrupt you can you just clarify really quickly are you are you putting are you are you pitching this blank? Are you responding to their requests or are you just putting it out there you just making up? I'm an lp whatever are you just making it up and putting it out there? Are you responding to what they're requesting right? So so they say look, I'm looking for a source about vinyl records and then I in this case because remember this is me sort of proving a point I'm not actually doing this for one of my businesses but I have employees to do that for me but so I'm quickly googling something about vinyl records so I know what I'm talking about and then I say I say uh, you know, it gives you an email address to respond to and you e mail that reporter and you say you know, hey, this is who I am this is how you know that I'm legit I'm this is what I know about vinyl records I'm happy to help you however you can so you're just trying to be the first to respond to you the first to them legit person to them correct putting out an ad correct and the same thing works with these other serves the karl is one way to do a profit in it sort of functions the exact same when these other sources and another trick that I like teo and I and I have my own place in this as well is even if you think there's not a chance that you could get featured in this story I like to send a nice note that sort of elicits a response in some way, like that's why I like, how can I help you? So they have to reply. So now you have their email in contact information, and now when you have another thing that's coming out or you have something that might be interesting to them, you can go back to that reporter and pitch them. So, like, for instance, there was an article in the wall street journal yesterday that I was and background source for I didn't he contacted me directly, but it wasn't because of ha row, but now I have a relationship with that person, and when I want to pitch him, I have an email thread that aiken return to it's, not a cold pitch, so thes services air one a great way to just get media mentions, but two, they're a great way to build a media contact list with people who by nature of using these services, are telling you they're kind of lazy and they don't really care what they print it out. So to me, it's weird, I have this weird relationship with these services where I think they sort of symbolise everything that's wrong with journalism and culture, but when I'm trying to promote something it's like sweet thanks for making it really easy, so, like my articles and the book, I had that I had that weird relationship it's like I know it's bad, but this is the game and if you're not playing it, your competitors aire just out, you know, racking up media mentions and so it's it's funny like I could have done it. I've already been quoted in the media many times, but I could have let's say I was trying to build a business from scratch like, you know, I just started this app company and I want to show that I'm legit I could have racked up all these media mentions about utterly irrelevant things to my business, but then put at the top of my website like as featured in new york times forbes, abc news, msnbc because it's technically true like I had I had one client who I was showing him how to do this, and he ended up getting quoted on all these blog's about like one of the stories he got he owned like a tech business, but he got quoted in a story about like fantasy football at the office like workplaces that play fantasy football so you know his his his thing is mentioned in this popular blogger and he gets to put it on the top of his website but it's not it's, not the same as being a cover story on wired, but he gets to say that his product was featured on wire yeah, perception becomes reality you're sort of leading a little bit maybe you're going to go here already since we do have some business owners in the audience I think would be cool to have one actually you lies the script in a real time and experiment okay, can I pick somebody go for it because I've been to your website on I've seen some press missions at the bottom the website as seen in x y and z so I'm curious using that beautiful script that ryan has provided how you'd go about doing that yeah, we actually use harder all the time so though those who come directly from that but here we go hi I'm with discover peek a website link that does amazing that sells exclusive access teo uh unique pantyhose or ho shary discover peak was featured on dailycandy refinery twenty nine um mashable, etcetera, etcetera and written about in let's see um I don't know I can't remember off the top of my head who else you've been feature it of written about I'd love to be in touch with you regarding our post on hero how can I help you get the information you need for your piece? Very um yeah basically I mean we use it all the time and you lost a couple weeks ago there was somebody who posted it am I think was like some female driven website about valentine's day and what to give, what to buy for yourself and so we contact you know, there was a ton about val intention we contacted every single person, but I realized we weren't getting married very many responses because we weren't making it that different, right, right? I was just hauling them, I basically went through that, but I did make it so different are so interesting that they had to contact me and I realized what I should have done in you can attach images in the post but giving them a link to a very specific product, like the products I talked about yesterday could've really driven some of those people too ryan that really makes me think about what you hit so hard on yesterday's a having that sentence or that paragraph, we can really drive them. And of course, think about what david said yesterday is a journalist what's gonna get him to click more? How important said, what comes after that does amazing, right? Critical that it's you? I mean, you gotta again. I always try to think about it from their perspective, which is ok, so they've got this story out there, they've got the story, they've got to get out, they didn't have any sources, they post on this thing, now they have two hundred potential sources, why should they pick you? And they've already identified as going after the lowest hanging fruit and so how is how is it clear that your company is that thing? So like with what I like to do sometimes and it's hard to talk about this in the script, but if they're if they're saying like for instance, like the one about germophobe, the person was like, look, I'm I'm looking for someone who's, a german for wire you, jerry folk, I'm just gonna write my story at the bottom of this, I'm going to say, like, look, I'll I'll just answer the query, so ideally they could just say, hey, I love your story. Do you mind if I just quote this email directly? You're trying to eliminate the steps from them, so using the images in your email, if it's a link now, they don't have to come back to you and ask for images, actually, and another thing was that I've noticed through using it is less is more right. You don't give him so much information because I mean, right now we have the attention span of goldfish have it so sure and so to the point, and so exactly what they're asking for, right? And those have been the best responses, the things that I've gotten straight to the point, giving them exactly what they ask for in like, ten sentences or less because they're just looking again they've probably got this story already written and that's just like you can also follow journalists on twitter and will sometimes say like, hey, I'm looking for an expert source about this like there was a recent thing about there was some sports journalist I think he is a sports journalist for cnbc, he wrote, I'm looking for a story about professional athletes paying for escorts and this guy sends him a tweet it sort of does the exact same thing I did, he said that between like oh you know I run a high end escort service for professional athletes and then proceeded to deceive this reporter for like a multi part series on cnbc about his fake escort business because the reporter is saying like, look, just tell me what I want to hear, I'm not going to be skeptical because if I if I look too deep into what you're telling me, then I'm gonna have to go do ria work, which I don't want to do and so like that's, what you're up against I wanted to sort of illustrated and its naked awfulness, but not everyone is that bad and you can you can so they've already written the story in their head they just want a quote from you they don't want to hear your whole life story and then I have to adit that down to a quote you wanted, like when I'm replying to these emails like when I'm when I'm writing that does amazing blank, I'm writing a sentence in a way that I am perfectly okay and hoping that they will just either directly steal my words or paraphrase them in the description. So, like when I'm writing what I'm writing, the the back cover of my book, I'm writing it so and my bio, I'm writing it, so when people write about me, they're stealing my language, and I don't have a problem with that because I I want them to steal my language because I think I'm going to describe myself better than someone else can't I'm embarrassed to say this only because having been a journalist, I could think back to being a local news reporter and under tight time constraints, as you mentioned deadline deadline deadline this has to air tonight it's only right, I would go out and my story was already written and I knew and at a whole x person says this experts in says the exact opposite, you know, and you're still telling the story? I guess I was still factual and true, but due to tight deadlines, you're not doing as much due diligence, probably as you would like, I know lodger almost that did the same thing as you mentioned. With print articles where they just like I need a controversial quote right here looking and journalists have to be objective even though they'd rather like they know what they they know what they believe in what they saw but there's sort of this obligation of objectivity like, you know, if they they're writing some story about barack obama it's like, well, what now we got to get sarah palin is opinion just to balance things out and even though they think that even though they don't like what you're saying and all that that's their obligation and so it's a great it's a great way like everyone's like how could I get a profile about my business? Oh god, this client is like, you know, I want people to write about like articles about my book and why not just find articles that were already going to be written and have them mentioned your book and you can build from there especially if you have no media coverage whatsoever don't try to hit our home run out of the park like just build up this steady uh resume of clips so because again no one wants to be the first reporter sorry no one wants to be there for the first reporter to write the first feature about a complete unknown someone wants to get the first exclusive about something that's interesting and cool that popularizes and blows it up but they don't want to have to call your mom and find out where you went to college and what your childhood up when he was let that stuff sort of happen organically like a great example is as dependent as journalists are on our own we could talk about this more later like wikipedia they just pull up your wikipedia count and go like oh so that's where they went to school this is where they were born this where they've got their first job because they don't have the time the energy and the frankly they're not paid to do it anymore teo double check your background so like maybe you're not notable enough for wikipedia page but if you are and you don't have one that's a problem but if if this information is not clear and obvious on your website you're you're it's not going to get out there and you want to make sure that it isthe well quick question from online yeah couple actually way have one of your fans who have read your book line marion w and she's asking a cz I read his book and tried harrow with no success so far I wonder if haro works for unsigned artists and musicians and also for stephanie and questions have also kind of had a question about you know getting ah showcasing or publicizing an art portfolio s oh what I would I would do is I would find the things don't if you're an onside artist, that means you're competing against all these other artists who have established names and you're saying okay, you you write a self published book, don't go tto book review sites to get your book reviewed because you're coming to them at a lower status than everyone else, so I would try to think about what are other ways that you could get media for other things that you do that mention your art and your project's indirectly rather than directly and then again build up that profile and then do it from there. So it's not fully about maybe being the awful feature yeah, first, right? Right, like if you're a reporter and someone says, hey, I'm you know, I'm an unsigned musician, right about me? You're like this's, this is this could very well be a disaster and they could be a crazy person. How do I know that they've been vetted by someone else? Greg, can we do another test? I was just gonna ask god for first you mentioned like virtual assistants and other employees. I'm just wondering how many like what's your team like that actuate space on the project on and I have I like to rely very heavily on clients like like I use clients teams, but like with a virtual assistant like this were functions where, you know so for this, what what I actually did, and this might be of value to people I set up, um, like, no, I have my actual email address, I set up a second email address, there was just a, like a different generation of my name on, and I give him access to that thing, and I allowed him to reply on my behalf, but as me so the reporters didn't know that they weren't interacting with me, but our sorry, yeah, but they it seemed as though they were so I guess, um, what I'm asking is, how many hours a week did you have this guy? I would say all in this was, like, fifteen hours of total were probably like it was stunningly easy, that's not to say that I didn't respond to a bunch of queries that didn't work, but because I had scripted it out and we got a set, like, when you really read what they're asking, and you, khun, you get better at this overtime, but, um, what are they trying to write about? How can you don't don't like it if someone is someone doing attacks story about, you know, small businesses or something or, you know, online entrepreneurs, um, you wouldn't pitch them discover peak as primarily it's fashion side you would try to relate to them based on the technology side and running your own business and what it's like to be an entrepreneur in new york city or whatever and then and so come to them where they are try to help them with their story don't stick with the same narrative that you would give to a different reporter that's what I was talking to earlier about you talked to a local reporter differently they knew what a national reporter ah blogger differently than you would a reporter journalist because they all have different agendas and it's your job as the marketer and as the promoter to make sure that your meeting their needs first and your needs second all right it's eso also like to go and give it a shot your opportunity right here he flew all the way to seattle your business the world's watching and they want to learn more about you like I think a post you might reply to might be someone asking about sort of like agriculture issues or the minimum wage like let's say someone was looking for something about the minimum wage one that we talked about yesterday it's a good that's a good one so high I'm with witchcraft in new york c w I c h craft and y si dot com we do amazing breakfast and lunch food in quick service environments with fine dining roots, we serve over five to six thousand people every day which craft has been featured on numerous food links our food, food, food publications as well as general business publications including the wall street journal and fast company I'd love to be in touch with you by your post unemployment practices we are ahead of the curve on the way we compensate our employees how can I help you get the information you need for your piece? Yeah, I think that's great like some things I would think about with you is it all depends based on your business in years for status like for you let's say like you know, I'm a wall street journal reporter and I'm doing this like you're sort of quote is right in my wheelhouse if I'm a huffington post blogger and I get it from you it's like, oh man, someone like I'm getting all these things from these mom and pop restaurant the person who just replied as seventeen locations that's a huge scoop for me I'm really excited to get this source and they're gonna have really feature you so I like I like that you were also talking about how many how many people you serve I would think about uh how could you say something strongly about their story like you know were very adamant against raising minimum wage laws or we are we've been hoping this would happen for a long time that's why we've always paid our employees, you know, twenty percent more than whatever minimum wages or, you know, in response to this we will be firing everyone. You know what it is like, say something that allows them to take their story in a direction that that is good for them, like you giving them just a sort of a wishy washing quote is not as good for them as something that's going to make people talk and interested. I have a strong point of view. Yeah, I have a have a strong point of view or have an angle that including you is better than whatever the other people are going to be saying. Thank you so much for sharing that, brian. I think it's time to transition a little bit to our to our next session. I think joey is ready. Yeah, let's, do it ask you a quick question. Did anything change with peter shankman and the way he was running hero after that kind of crazy looking conversation? Right? Right. So I thought I thought the correct pr response would have been like one not to threaten me with physical violence, which is what you did not tohave ah meltdown publicly and to just sort of brush it off and say like, hey, you know, obviously, we object to anyone violating our rules, and we're instituting the following five reforms to prevent this from happening in the future, and I think my favorite part was so the new york times had to issue like, an editor's note, like explaining what happened in the thing, it was actually problematic for me, for instance, like my book sold enough copies to make the new york times bestseller list, but it didn't the first week, and I think it was because, like they were very embarrassed, but, uh, I know the issue this editor's note was this whole big thing, I think the new york times should have also said, like, look, we refused our reporters are no longer allowed to use these services on dh that would have been I mean, what is the actual benefit, right? But it turns out haro didn't change your processes at all, and journalists are still legally ours are maybe more dependent than ever on these things. So to me, I think it just goes to show this sort of naked self interest that that defines this reporter's source relationship these days, and I don't think it's going anywhere that might be bad for us in terms of, like the quality of the news read, but it's really great in terms of getting product in the media.