12 Best Tips For Helping A Reporter Out


Image of 12 Best Tips for HARO


Are you looking for opportunities to gain more publicity / more exposure in the media for the work that you do?

If so, then you’re going to love the guest post I have for you today!

Rosellen Reif hails from Cary, North Carolina where she is in private practice providing counseling and consulting to those who have intellectual, developmental, and / or physical disabilities and their families.

In part, she has grown her reputation by gaining the attention of and supported the work of journalists who were seeking out professionals with her particular expertise.

Today, Rose is sharing with you one of her favorite tools – Help a Reporter Out, otherwise known as HARO – and how you, too, can become a trusted resource by journalists around the world!


A Guest Post by Rosellen Reif, MS, LPCA, CRC, QDD/MHP

What if I told you there was a service that could get you, your practice, and your advice on major media outlets and websites like Huffington Post, WebMD, CNN, and hundreds more?

How much would you pay for that kind of international publicity and the SEO boost that comes with it?

What if I told you that this magical marketing opportunity not only exists but that it’s free?!

No kidding!

How HARO Works

It’s called HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out and the formula is simple.

Journalists send in a request for the type of expert or quote they need, which in HARO lingo is called a “query.”

Queries are emailed three times per day, Monday through Friday, to experts [that means you] who have signed up to get them.

Experts email back a response to the query and one (or a handful of them) is selected by the reporter to be featured in their article, TV show, or radio spot.

I’ve talked to many people who think the idea sounds great but who wind up believing that HARO is a scam because they’ve never heard back from a reporter despite sending out dozens of responses to queries.

How to Play Nice with HARO

Whether you’ve never heard of HARO or if you’ve tried it with no luck, here are my top 12 tips for gaining the attention of media professionals.

These are the strategies that I’ve successfully used to be featured in response to every HARO query I’ve ever answered.

I hope they will help you make HARO work for you too!

Tip #1 – Follow the Rules

Give them only what they ask for.

If the query asks for one tip, do not share two or three.

Definitely don’t share zero tips (like “call me and we can discuss in more detail”)!

Maybe they’re looking for a physician’s opinion but you’re a Licensed Mariage and Family Therapist; even if you have a ton of great advice related to the query, don’t waste your time.

It doesn’t matter how perfect your response is.

There’s a reason the reporter has asked for something specific and if you don’t offer it, your response won’t be chosen.

Tip #2 – Don’t Try to Pitch a Different Story

If a query asks for someone who has successfully used Chantix to quit smoking, do not write in to share how you use hypnotherapy in your private practice to help your clients kick their cigarette habits, and wouldn’t readers be more interested in learning about a non-pharmacological option to treat their addiction?

The journalist has been given a specific assignment and a tight deadline to have it finished by.

You are officially wasting your time and theirs if you write an email asking them to reconsider any aspect of her task.

Tip #3 – Be Better Than on Time

If the query requests that you respond by 7:00 p.m., do not think the journalist will give your email a second glance if you don’t get around to replying until 10:00 p.m.

It really doesn’t matter when the deadline is.

Your goal is to respond as soon as possible!

HARO makes this easy by sending queries at roughly the same time every day, around 5:45 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 5:45 p.m. EST.  [corrected 10-25-15]

What has worked best for me is to set aside 20 minutes of  “marketing time” each day at the three times that HARO’s queries are due to arrive in my inbox.

I quickly scan my email for any queries that are in my wheelhouse and reply to those that are.

If no queries are up my alley, I use that chunk of time to tackle other marketing ‘to-do’s’.

Tip #4 – Create a Template

One easy way to cut down on the time it takes to get your response to a reporter’s inbox is to have your introduction pre-written.

Save an email template with

  • A quick introduction to you and your practice,
  • General information about your online presence,  and
  • How the journalist can contact you.

Remember, your goals are to establish your credibility, to give journalists a copy-and-paste-able blurb about you to use in their articles, and to let them know how to contact you.

Here’s an example of my own template:

“I’m a Licensed Professional Counselor Associate, a Certified Rehabilitation Counselor, and a Qualified Developmental Disabilities Professional.

I own a private counseling practice in North Carolina where I work exclusively with people and families affected by developmental disabilities like [insert query-related diagnosis here].

You can visit my website at www.reifpsychservices.com for more information about me and my practice.

I’m also on Pinterest (pinterest.com/RoseReif) and Facebook (facebook.com/reifpsychservices) pinning and posting the resources and support that families affected by disabilities need.

I’m happy to be emailed at rosellenreif@gmail.com or called at (919) 555-5555 to answer any questions!”

Now all I have to do is plop in my actual response and hit send!

Remember, journalists get hundreds, even thousands of query responses for every article they’re writing.

If you don’t follow these basic rules, reporters will delete your emails without a second thought and move on to the next experts.

Tip #5 – Stand Out

The subject line you use matters more than the content you share.

I recently received a query titled “Self-Harm in Teenagers.”

I’m betting that 99% of counselors who responded to that query used “Self-Harm in Teenagers” as their subject line or if they were feeling really adventurous “Response to Your Query about Self-Harm in Teenagers.”

Imagine the poor reporter sitting down to an inbox full of these emails that all look the same!

What if instead the reporter saw your email with the subject line “7 Signs Your High-Schooler is Cutting and What You Can Do About It.”

The reporter is going to take a pause and at least read your response.

And here’s the thing – her inbox may be full of the exact same advice as yours from other experts.

But because you set yourself apart and got noticed with your subject line, she may not even read the others!

I’ve actually had reporters use the subject line that I sent my response with as the title of their published article!

It’s rare but a reporter may ask that you DO use specific language in your email subject.

In that case, re-read Tip #1 and do exactly what the reporter has asked!

Tip #6 – Give Great Advice . . . and Give It in the Right Way

Have an opinion.

Suppose you get a query on the psychological pros and cons of throwing yourself a divorce party.

Some therapists might reply like this:

Parties like this might promote personal healing if the divorce wasn’t terribly traumatic, but you may risk alienating some friends and family who feel its in poor taste.

I guess it really depends on the person and the circumstances of their divorce and their social supports.”

But, this response lacks a backbone and is too vague.

It’s overly wordy without saying much of substance.

A better way to say it might be this:

Divorce celebrations offer a cathartic way to let friends and family, and most importantly yourself, know that you’re done with pain and self-doubt and that you’re framing your future as positive in your mind.

Limit the guest list to friends and family who celebrate your decision to commemorate the transition, rather than judge you negatively for it.

Tip #7 – Don’t Use Jargon

Remember, you’re not writing for the Journal of Applied Anything.

You’re offering a quick piece of content that can be shared on social media.

Ideally, you’re writing the way that you would speak to your real ideal client if s/he was to ask you the same question!

If you find yourself explaining tricky theoretical concepts or using language that the average 12-year old couldn’t understand, you’re doing it wrong.

Go back and simplify.

Tip #8 – Write Skimmable Content

Follow all of the advice that Tamara and Kat Love shared in 5 Ways to Make Your Blog More Skimmable.

Headers, bullet points, and single sentence paragraphs are your friends.

Make it your goal that the reporter can just cut and paste what you’ve written right into their article.

My experience is that 95% of the time, they will do just that!

Tip #9 – Follow Up Without Following Up

Use Google Alerts.

Sometimes reporters will frantically respond to your email by requesting that you send an additional quote on X (and if you could write back in 37 seconds that would be great!)

It may make you think that your wonderful advice is going to be live on the web any second.

But, don’t start giving your refresh button a workout just yet.

I’ve had as much as 6 weeks lapse between my initial response to a query and when it was actually published.

Most of the time a reporter will not write you back to let you know if you’ve been selected.

It can be agonizing!

The easiest way to alleviate your worry that you’ll miss the article when it posts is to set up a Google Alert.

Of course, Tamara has already pointed out great reasons that you should have alerts set up to monitor your online reputation.

If you have a few alerts set up with a mix of your name, the name of your practice, and a handful of the keywords from your intro blurb from your query, you’re sure to get the word as soon as the article is released.

Here’s the thing – I’ve had reporters wait until as long as three weeks after an article has gone live to let me know that they’d selected and used my quote!

Thanks to Google Alerts, I had already pinned and posted and shared the content on the day that it was published.

Tip #10 – Don’t Write a “Checking In” Email

Whatever you do, do not go hunting for a reporter’s personal email address and start “checking in” to make sure they got your email and wondering if they’d like to set up a phone call to get some more quotes from you.

A reporter will simply never reply to an email like this.

Remember you’ve only responded to one query of theirs but they’ve got 5 story deadlines this week alone; their inbox is full of thousands of emails just like yours.

This is another case of “don’t waste your time or theirs.”

I believe that if you use your response to the query to establish a relationship with a reporter (without bugging them in the process) you increase your chance that she’ll  think of you the next time she’s assigned to write a piece that falls within your area of specialization!

Tip #11 – Follow Up the Right Ways

There is a time and place for following up and that’s after your brilliant gems of advice have been selected and published by a reporter.

Here are ways you can and should follow up:

  • Comment on the article (thanking them for sharing your advice with their readers);
  • Re-share the piece on your Facebook page, tagging the writer in it if they have a public page;
  • Pin the content on your Pinterest Board;
  • Share the article on LinkedIn;
  • Find a tweetable quote from you and re-share the link on Twitter;
  • Post the article on your blog – maybe with a post related to the query content;
  • Encourage your readers / Facebook fans & friends / anyone who will listen to share the article on their own social media channels as well.

Tip #12 – Offer to Do It Again

However, you choose to follow up, remember to explicitly offer to do it again!

Let the journalist know that you would like to be a resource for them again and remind her once more what your specialization is.

A while back I was featured on ZLiving.com sharing advice for parents of kids with ADHD.

After the article went live, the journalist wrote back to share the link with me.

This is how I  thanked her for selecting me and followed up:

“I hope you’ll continue to think of me as a resource for any future articles you’re writing for people and families coping with developmental disabilities like ADHD or Autism”.

She immediately wrote me back asking if I’d contribute to another piece she was doing on ADHD which turned into a two-part article because of the depth of information I had to share.

So, one HARO query answered led to three articles featuring me, my practice, and my advice that have been shared close to 100 times on social media.

That’s a lot of free publicity for about 15 minutes of my time.

Plus, of course, there is the benefit of knowing that I got to share valuable advice with people who genuinely needed it!

What’s Your HARO Story?

I hope you find these tips useful!

I’ve found HARO to be an easy, fun, and a free addition to my marketing toolbox.

Do you have a HARO success story to share?

If so, please do include a link below so that we can use you as another example and celebrate your achievements, too!

Or do you still have questions about how the whole thing works?

I’d love to hear about your experience and help you tackle your questions!

And, if you know someone (or lots of someones!) who would like more media attention to build their private practice, please take a moment to hit the share buttons below so that they’ll know the right way to build relationships with journalists on and offline.


Image of Rosellen Reif, MS, LPCAAbout the Author: Rosellen Reif, MS, LPCA, CRC, QDD/MHP runs a private practice in North Carolina, counseling clients who have developmental, intellectual, and physical disabilities. You can visit her website and blog at www.reifpsychservices.com.


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Marketing Your Perinatal & Postpartum Psychotherapy Practice – A Case Study


A Case Study - Marketing Your Perinatal & Postpartum Psychotherapy Practice

A few months ago, Shannon Wilson joined in the conversation on How to Identify Your Ideal Client to Build Your Private Practice.  She said . . . .

. . . I am new to private practice (just celebrating a year in a few weeks!) and keep pretty busy as a ‘generalist’ but am also working on developing my niche area in maternal mental health/perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, but am wondering if you might have some advice.

I’m struggling to actually REACH these women.

I have reached out to local OB-Gyn docs, a few family practice physicians, chiropractors, labor and delivery social workers, etc but am finding this to be an incredibly difficult population to reach.

I also run a free postpartum wellness group twice monthly and have advertised that using social media and reaching out to physician’s offices and clinics.

So, I guess my question would be do you have any ideas for getting the word out about a ‘specialization’ area?

I don’t see myself as an expert by any means, but have worked with a significant number of women and have done/am in process of doing some continuing ed to further my knowledge in this area as well.

I think the most important thing though is that I feel so passionate about it and I feel like I’m really working with my ideal client when I do work with these moms!”

At the time, I asked you guys to chime in with your thoughts about her concerns while I gathered some of my own to share.

What I remember is that Shannon already had a very clear picture about who her ideal client was – women dealing with perinatal mental health – so my intent was simply to help juice up her marketing brain.

Here’s some of what I would tell her and what I would tell you if you were in her situation . . . .

Tell Yourself the Truth

Shannon was already doing a lot of things right by reaching out to allied health providers who often deal with the mental health needs of pregnant women.

But, I wanted to back up for a moment . . . to check with her to make sure that “reaching out” meant that she is building relationships with these physicians, chiropractors, and social workers. [ ADD NETWORKING LINK?]

One of the groups that therapists with this specialization often overlook is the hospitals where these clients eventually end up.

If Sharon has been building relationships with these professionals that are specifically perinatal-focused, then they will certainly have connections to their local hospitals.

My suggestion?

Use those connections.

Ask for introductions!

Getting Your Practice Found Online

While Shannon stated that she wanted to work with clients with perinatal issues, her website in general and her bio, in particular, didn’t really reflect that interest back then.

At the time, I wondered if she might have some fears (about not attracting clients) and if that, in turn, had led her to put up a generalist’s website online even though she already knew that it was pregnant women and new moms that she was most passionate about working with.

Perhaps some of you has struggled with similar fears . . . ?

What I do know is that it will always serve you (and your clients best) to give yourself permission to tell yourself the truth

It’s likely that you will stay stuck in this place if you don’t tell you the truth.

And, if Shannon does a reality check and decides that pregnant women really are her ideal clients, then her website – at least the portions that pertain to her – need to reflect that interest in and passion for working with these issues.

(By the way, if you check out Shannon Wilson’s website today, you will see that she has already revised her bio to better reflect her clinical interest in this population.)

Build Your Credibility Online

Because Shannon has such a specific niche and focus, it is possible for her to build her credibility online surprisingly fast.

One way to do that is to add a blog to her website that is focused specifically on this niche.

(If you are new to blogging, I’ll have another round of BlogStart for Therapists starting in January/February and would love to have you join me!)

Blogging is the best way I know to get people to find your practice online.

Right now, Shannon’s website is not even ranking in the USA on Alexa (meaning that she is not yet getting much traffic to her website).

By creating and curating the best information online about all things perinatal, Shannon’s website and practice can become the go-to place in town for moms that are expecting.

Getting Known in Your Community

And, finally, I checked to see what Shannon might be doing in her own community these days with pregnant women.

Here’s what I found with a quick search online.

In other words, she’s been busy!

But, here’s a few other places that moms might show up in Shannon’s own community . . . .

I love her idea of offering a wellness or support group to her ideal clients.

She might also consider also offering her professional services to other support groups and charities in her community like Birth, Baby, & Beyond.

She might also offer to come in as a guest speaker, provide on-site assessments, or even facilitate support services in their spaces rather than in her own space to make it even easier for referral sources and new clients to connect with her.

She might consider partnering with a local chapter of a charity or other businesses that focus on pregnant and new moms like March of Dimes March for Babies, Iowa’s Perinatal Depression Project Beyond the Blues, or Iowa City Doulas.

Lots of Right Ways to Build a Private Practice

See what I mean?

Shannon has lots of right ways to build a private practice focused on perinatal clients!

And, for each one of these potential contacts she’ll want to focus and create a year-long strategy for building strong relationships.

Shannon,  if you don’t know how to put that marketing plan together and need help with this, give me a shout!

I’ve always got room to work with another highly motivated therapist and I’ll be happy to show you how to put a plan together with the steps necessary to do just that!

And, I’m hoping that you’ll get some more great ideas from everyone else reading this post, too!  

[Thanks, Shannon, for letting me use you as a case study!]




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A Psychotherapist’s Out-of-Office Email Response


Summer is waning and many of us have been out of the office for some long overdue respite and self-care.

Last year, I sent one of my colleagues, Christine Garcia, MA, LPC, an email while she was out of the office and, in response, received an email from her autoresponder.

In consideration of her clients’ needs, her own risk management needs, and in the interest of any others who might be trying to reach her, Christine had created an automatic email response that provided notice of her absence as well as information for clients and potential clients who have mental health needs.

Her email was so thorough that I wanted to share it with you and invited her to guest post about it right here.

However, she modestly gave credit to  Barbara Sheehan-Zeidler, MA, LPC who originally introduced her to the idea of using an autoresponse but did graciously agree to share the evolution of this email response that she uses today.

  (If you are interested in writing a guest post, check out the guidelines here.)


 A Guest Post by Christine Garcia, MA, LPC

Image of A Psychotherapist's Out-of-Office Email Response

Responsible for Me

When I plan a vacation or time away from the office to tend to a medical or personal need, I want to get completely away.

It seemed that being able to leave work behind and mentally escape became essential to my self-care as a clinician in private practice.

My clients were amazing-but-intense people with crisis-oriented situations that often put them in harms way.

They were women who were victims of domestic violence and several were involved with Child Protective Services.

I enjoyed working with them but found I needed a mental and emotional break at least once a year to avoid burnout.

In order for me to really let go of worrying about my clients while I was laying on a beach somewhere soaking up a cocktail and some sun, I realized that I needed to be reasonably sure that my clients could get help if they reached out to me while I was away.

Responsible to Them

In fact, I knew it was my responsibility to any client trying to reach me (both current and new clients) to give them information about where to seek help and support during my absence.

Although I would create plans with my current clients before being away from the office, I realized that having additional coverage meant I could better enjoy my time away because I worried less.

So, in addition to getting coverage from a colleague to answer urgent calls or hold a session with a client in crisis, if needed, I also set up an automatic outgoing email that provided helpful information.

My colleague and friend, Barbara Sheehan-Zeidler of Creative and Caring Counseling, LLC took my original message and cleaned it up for her own use.

Her version is better than mine.  Just click to download

.Barbara's Autoresponder


Do you have experience using email auto-responders?

If so, what has your experience been?

Are there other things that you include in your out-of-office emails?


 About the Author:  Christine Garcia, MA, LPC  has been in Image of Christine Garcia, MA, LPCprivate practice in Colorado since 2006. Prior to becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor, Ms. Garcia worked in domestic violence victim services, child adolescent treatment centers, and for Child Protective Services. 

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