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Anonymous Journalism: Is All Coverage Good Coverage?

Sometimes getting media coverage can feel like pulling a rabbit out of a hat or even worse, hopeless. HARO (Help A Reporter Out) helps simplify this sometimes daunting process and has helped get millions of sources quoted in media outlets around the world.

HARO offers reporters the option to submit anonymous queries. Meaning, their names and media outlets are masked from sources. You may be wondering why a reporter would select this option and there are several reasons.

Some journalists are afraid their story idea will be scooped by another reporter or media outlet. Another reason could be that the reporter’s editor either does not want them to use a service like HARO or the editor requested that the reporter not list the publication.

I took a poll on HARO’s Facebook page and asked sources whether they would pitch a reporter if the query had been listed as anonymous. Most respondents said no, that they prefer to know who they are pitching themselves or their client to.

A source commented, “I need to make sure it’s worth my time. Time is the most valuable asset I have.”

Time is precious, especially when you are attempting to juggle the many hats that come with running a business or even just doing your job. In addition, not knowing the media outlet or reporter makes it difficult for a source to tailor a pitch to the reporter or media outlet’s style.

One of your first thoughts would probably be to ignore anonymous queries altogether. I highly recommend against doing so. Numerous major publications utilize our anonymous feature and you could potentially miss out on some big time media coverage.

How can you, the sources, minimize the grey area anonymous queries create?

I have two suggestions for you. The first is to simply email the reporter and ask them for the outlet. Some reporters may not be able to give you the outlet until they solidify you or your client as a source, but it is worth asking. Keep in mind you will waste time by asking and another source could beat you to the punch by pitching right away.

My second suggestion is to take the chance and pitch the reporter. All anonymous queries have been vetted by the HARO editors and meet all of our criteria. If you are the perfect fit for the query, it is worth taking the risk. If the reporter decides to use you as a source, you will get publicity and that is fantastic for you or your client.

Another HARO source said, “I pitch anything relevant…it has led to some fun radio interviews, online guest features, and other exciting things.”

I understand anonymous queries are inconveniences, but taking the risk is worth it. You never know where it could get your name (or your client’s name) and/or the potential relationship you could build with a reporter.

With that in mind, what do you think? Would you pitch your business or client if you did not know the outlet? If you have done so before, what was the outcome?

Please share below!


Image via baxink (Creative Commons)

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