HARO alternatives: the good the bad and the ugly of PR and backlink services
Here we go! This article shows where you can actually find everything you need to know, when it comes to PR and backlinks.
The reality is SEO is complicated – and forever changing. Let’s be honest, when you’re trying to build your own brand awareness, whether that’s through social media or building backlinks, you are up against AI – real robots, and we’ve all seen how that goes down in the movies… It’s never good news for humans. Well, the same applies when you’re trying your best to hack the algorithm.
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Although Help A Reporter Out is definitely a great way to gain quality backlinks for your website, not all of us are naturally-born journalist-whisperers. So, if you’re not finding you’re having much luck there (as many people who aren’t professional HARO outreach specialists find, so don’t be disheartened), you may just need our spectacularly detailed cheatsheet, which we’re happy to share with you for free, if you reach out to us here – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Otherwise, you could continue reading this guide, to understand how you can gain super PR powers, become the King of Content, climb your way to the first page of Google, drive traffic, win clients and see all of your wildest business dreams become reality! Yep, all of that is really possible by simply incorporating backlinks into your life.
So now hopefully you’re feeling motivated to get started – big media outlets like Forbes, Fox News, Mashable, The New York Times and other high authority publications, here we come!
We have broken this down into the most easily-digestible way to see where it’s worth placing your time and energy, through ‘The Good, The Bad & The Ugly” of PR and backlink services, as alternatives to HARO…
Forbes Councils – $$$
Forbes Councils is an exclusive group for executives and entrepreneurs hoping to get some media coverage for their business.
We’ve all heard of Forbes.com, so think of the benefits of being published there! Exclusivity, professional credibility, an immediate audience gained, a huge influx of traffic to your website, a weighty backlink, what isn’t there to love?! According to Forbes Councils’ official website, members can expect to get connection, growth, and visibility on Forbes.com. Wow! Sign me up!
Well, look, if we could all be published in Forbes, wouldn’t we do just that? That’s the thing, this website IS exclusive. So exclusive in fact, that it’s “an invitation-only organization”. In order to be invited, you need to meet certain criteria.
What’s the criteria then?…
1. Are you a senior-level executive?
2. Do you have a minimum $1 million revenue or at least 3 years of experience as a publicly recognized career, leadership, business, or executive coach?
If you can’t answer yes to the above, don’t waste any more time reading this one. To be honest, it really seems to be more hassle than it’s worth. Even if you are within the minority of individuals who found themselves nodding enthusiastically to the above questions, you would then need to file an application to be reviewed by the committee. Cool.
Then comes the real whopper that most definitely has to fall under our “Ugly” section, once you get approved, you have to pay a membership fee that costs $2,000 per year. What’s more… The links that you do get from Forbes are set to no-follow, so while it may give you great exposure, it won’t really contribute much to your SEO campaign. Zing!
JustReachOut – $$
JustReachOut was founded in 2014 in the hopes of helping small businesses “do PR and get exposure” without help from PR companies. As with the other services in this list, they have a huge database of bloggers, podcasters, and reporters.
In addition to letting users pitch, JustReachOut has a team of editors ready to “give you feedback on your pitches as you revise and send them”. This is also much more affordable if you’re willing to put the time in with monthly pricing starting at $99 per month (a good option for solo-entrepreneurs).
In order to make the most of this platform, you would already need to have experience doing PR outreach. It is described as simply being a tool to perform research for building a target media list – so you couldn’t just come at this as an entrepreneur looking for PR help, you would need to have a good idea of what you’re doing and PR writing skills at hand as well.
If you want to take a break from PR outreach and make the mistake of cancelling your account instead of pausing it, all of the data on the account will immediately be deleted. This includes your email pitches, your past journalist searches and any replies from journalists). Your account will be completely wiped out from their system, so they won’t even be able to reinstate this information for you.
Meltwater – $$$
Meltwater has been around since 2001 and its website guarantees users that it offers “comprehensive media monitoring and analysis across online news, social media, print, broadcast, and podcasts.”
This is one of the better known PR tools, so it has a good reputation online. Going above and beyond providing users with access to an extensive database of journalists, the tool can also be used for brand management, social media management, and even competitor research.
According to a G2 reviewer, one of the downsides of Meltwater is that there is “a huge data loading time when doing a big date range,” plus “the connection with Facebook is weird and lacks proper documentation”.
Premium access starts at $4,000 per year, which means the service costs around $333 per month. As such, the service is recommended for bigger businesses that often get mentioned in different online publications.
Muck Rack- – $$$
Muck Rack describes itself as “the new standard in public relations software.”
The Muck Rack website maintains an extensive media database that helps users find journalists, podcasters, and publications related to their niche. Moreover, business owners not only discover reporters but are also kept updated with the news. You also receive notifications when media contacts write about your industry, based on keywords that you’ve specified.
They also really look after you at the beginning to try to get you to subscribe to the platform, having 1-1 calls with you (and your team) to show you how everything works, without you having to make any financial commitments.
Some users have complained that the added broadcast tool has limited functionality when compared to other coverage monitoring tools. Others have likewise pointed out that the platform’s database is not exhaustive when it comes to publications, and that the interface could be more intuitive.
Muck Rack does offer a huge PR database, but with pricing starting at $5,000 per year paid in a lump sum, and not everything being included in the standard package, it’s either a real commitment, or simply, not an option for everyone. This would not be the recommended route for small business owners with limited marketing budgets!
NinjaOutreach – $
Beyond connecting businesses to journalists, NinjaOutreach also helps users “find Instagram and YouTube influencers.”
You can sift through the NinjaOutreach’ database by entering industry-specific keywords. Additionally, instructional videos are available, which can be extremely useful as you try to learn how to use the service. Pricing starts at just $49 per month.
One G2 reviewer wrote that the platform’s high return of profiles means “there are inevitably some results returned that are not relevant for you.”
There are many complaints online that we’ve seen from reviews, about the customer service not being very good, so if you find yourself in a spot of trouble, reaching out for help won’t get you very far.
Press Plugs – $
Founded by Tracey and Mike Nolan, Press Plugs is a “media hub that connects journalists, agencies and businesses”.
Business owners and professionals can access the service for free through a 7-day trial with no card required which is what we love to see. This kind of legendary behaviour is exactly what you’d expect from a great company that trusts that their product is so good, you’ll keep your subscription going after the free trial, so already, this is a fantastic sign. PressPlugs also has a very personal vibe with the owners of it having a personal message to users on their website, stating that when used well, PressPlugs “will deliver thousands of pounds worth of publicity that your competitors can only dream of”.
Along with their other services, members receive requests for requests from the media, much like HARO but obviously to a smaller audience than HARO so your competition should technically also be smaller. PressPlugs also helps connect journalists to expert resources.
The team at PressPlugs sorts through #journorequest Tweets, filtering them before adding the most noteworthy to their website. Although this could save you some time, you may actually have more competition than you think you will have on this site, as the requests are coming from, or being published, elsewhere and so if you see it first on PressPlugs and respond immediately to try be that early responding-bird to the link-worm, if you will, you may not actually be as fast as you think you are as this has already been published on Twitter before making its way to PressPlugs. However, there are some requests that do appear on PressPlugs that aren’t seen anywhere else, so there is still a positive side to this!
PressPlugs only includes UK media outlets in their database, so it’s more limited than other online PR tools. Still, it is a good source for those located in other countries looking for UK coverage, but it’s just good to keep in mind that it’s not a global PR database.
ProfNet – $
Also owned by Cision – the same company that owns HARO – ProfNet has been “connecting journalists and experts for 20 years”.
In addition to getting your company featured, journalists may also ask you to be a resource speaker for conferences, trade shows, and other events which goes beyond HARO’s offerings.
Although the platform claims it has “developed a menu of services to help nurture that connection,” it is mainly a resource for PR professionals.
There are no free options for businesses. Prices start at $1,500, so again this is not for everyone.
Qwoted – $$$
New York-based Qwoted is, according to its official site, a “new technology that’s helping bring the old standards back to journalism”.
The free platform functions much like HARO in that it connects businesses with journalists looking for expert quotes. Requests are sent in real-time, so those quick to respond have a higher chance of getting published.
The free account users can only answer 3 journalist questions per month. To go beyond that, a Pro subscription costs $149.99 every 30 days. Also, a downside of the requests being sent in real-time to your email, is that it means getting tons of emails in your inbox every single day.
An enterprise package will set you back $1,250 per month, which is a huge amount of money for small businesses, so this is not an option really for entrepreneurs or startups!
SourceBottle – $
As with the other sites in this list, SourceBottle is also an “online service that connects journalists with sources”.
In addition to giving you access to journalists’ questions, SourceBottle also does case studies and actually offers giveaways for users to review. Another pro for SourceBottle is that the basic service is free to use – hooray! But of course, this does come at a cost somewhere!
If you’d like to get an expert profile, you’ll have to pay a monthly charge of $25, which isn’t terrible compared to the other rates of the HARO alternatives we’ve mentioned above. Having an expert profile allows you to gain access to SourceBottle’s pitching services, where they pitch on your behalf, to journalists and bloggers looking for experts with your specific credentials and expertise.
If you stick to the free version, you will get around two ads per email, which can be annoying, but it’s understandable as it’s free. Meanwhile, the paid expert profile option also has its downsides with available pitch opportunities being pretty limited.
Terkel – $$
Launched in October 2020, Terkel is one of the newest platforms available that makes our list. Their greatest goal is to help small businesses boost their authority by giving them access to “a knowledge platform that creates community-driven content based on expert insights”.
This site compiles the articles, including users’ quotes, before exporting them for publication by various brands.
Terkel’s free version limits you to 5 answers per month. To enjoy the unlimited option, you’ll have to shell out $99 per month for a premium account or $199 per month for a team subscription.
Features such as early 2-day access to questions, internal team editorial support, link type, and domain rating are only available for paid subscribers.
Twitter – $
And last but not least, we couldn’t forget to include our beloved Twitter on this list!
A lot of journalists use Twitter to post questions and get expert responses. All you have to do is keep a keen eye on the latest posts with the hashtags that trend for journalist requests. A few of the most useful ones to watch are #JournoRequest, #PRrequests, and #RadioGuestList.
Best of all, Twitter is obviously free to use, so you have unlimited opportunities to pitch AND it all happens in absolute real time so you can get a response really quickly too.
There are literally hundreds of millions of Twitter users… Although not all of them will be responding to journalists’ requests, you will have a lot of competition – so time is of the essence here! So it’s best to do the most you can to grab the journalist’s attention – we’re not just talking about replying to the tweet, we suggest you send a DM if you can and even go as far as trying to find their personal email online or reach out to them on LinkedIn to really stand out.
Competition can be stiff on Twitter since, as pointed out above, it’s a free platform. You will have to keep your eyes peeled for new journalist requests plus you also need to do your own research to learn about their website, domain authority, and if their niche is relevant to your business.
Have we missed any? Are there new kids on the block? Want to share your experience with us? Reach out and let us know
If our intricately-detailed overview of HARO alternatives for PR and backlinks has only confused you more than you were before you began reading this incredibly long article, then it might just be time you reached out to us for some help.
We’re happy to have a free consultation call with you as we do offer more than building organic backlinks via HARO, we’re also in the PR game, so we can do all of the above for you, without you having to worry about a thing. Of course, we’d leave the best ‘til last!