AI and HARO: Navigating the Future of Media Connections

Jan. 12, 2024, 9:13 a.m. in

Cision has been announcing a change in how HARO works for the last few months at the top of their emails. The move from an email newsletter into the Cision App is a big change for the service that has been mostly unchanged for over a decade.

In this article, I will look at the possible reasoning and implications for journalists and experts alike.

This article is part of our series on HARO.

Challenges HARO Is Facing

As I delve into the current state of HARO, it's impossible to ignore the challenges the platform is grappling with. Automated scripts and low-quality responses have surged, cluttering journalists' inboxes and diminishing the overall effectiveness of the service. This deluge of subpar replies is not just an annoyance; it's actively making HARO less usable for its intended audience: reporters seeking expert insights.

HARO's appeal for journalists is its access to a wide range of sources and the diversity of expert opinions. However, this is becoming increasingly overshadowed by the frustration of sifting through irrelevant and spammy content. From my perspective, the platform's issues echo the broader struggles within the digital information space where quantity seems to be outstripping quality, and it's becoming harder to find those diamonds in the rough amidst the noise.

The problem isn't just superficial. Real implications exist for the success rate of experts trying to publish their insights. With every spammy submission, the likelihood of a meaningful connection between a journalist and a true expert dwindles, and the intrinsic value of the platform takes a hit. The frustration for users on both ends is palpable, with time and effort wasted on fruitless exchanges.

The platform's issues don't exist in isolation. They reflect a larger predicament in which automated tools and strategies can sometimes undermine the very goals they are supposed to achieve. HARO's struggles mirror the experience of many platforms striving to balance accessibility with maintaining a high standard of quality. It's a delicate balance that, when tipped, can lead to widespread user disaffection.

HARO's future success hinges on its ability to overcome these obstacles. As the platform continues to grapple with these challenges, it will be crucial to keep an eye on how it navigates through them—and what that means for the larger landscape of source-journalist matching services.

Why HARO is Still Relevant

Despite the onslaught of automated scripts and the saturation of low-quality responses, Help a Reporter Out (HARO) remains a vital tool for journalists and experts alike. In the digital era, where there's an overwhelming amount of content, the necessity for genuine expert sources is at an all-time high. HARO provides a platform for experts to share valuable insights and for journalists to sift through the noise and find credible voices to enhance their stories.

As someone who's navigated the shifting landscapes of digital information, I've seen the impact that quality contributions can have. HARO still stands out because it facilitates connections that might otherwise be missed in the vast cyber sea. Experts can demonstrate their in-depth knowledge and understanding of various subjects by adhering to journalists' specific requirements and conditions and staying true to the heart of inquiry.

The competition may be fierce, but the potential rewards are significant. Being featured in a reputable article or report can catapult an expert's visibility and brand recognition. For journalists, nabbing that perfect quote or piece of analysis is invaluable. That's why timely, relevant, and well-crafted responses are imperative. By setting dedicated times to answer inquiries and focusing on adding true value, participants on both ends of the HARO equation can benefit greatly.

Experts are advised to reflect on whether the query aligns with their business or personal brand if they can provide a meaningful contribution, and if the resulting article is one they'd be proud to be included in. Treating every pitch with a unique, tailored approach, rather than relying on cookie-cutter responses, is essential in maintaining HARO's relevance. While the platform may need to address the challenges of quantity over quality, its core function of joining the complementary needs of reporters and experts keeps it indispensable in our ever-evolving digital sphere.

What HARO is Doing

As I delve deeper into the future of HARO, it's evident that the platform is not resting on its laurels. With the digital landscape evolving, Cision, the powerhouse behind HARO, is proactive in implementing strategies to combat the dual challenges of automation and spam that plague many platforms today.

The first step in their approach involves transitioning from email-based services toward integrating into the Cision app. This migration isn't just a change of medium; it represents a strategic decision to maintain the integrity of interactions on their platform. By potentially incorporating methods like CAPTCHA verification, Cision aims to make the query submission process more robust, deterring bot-driven spam submissions, which have been a concern for journalists and experts seeking genuine exchanges.

Furthermore, Cision is exploring options to limit responses, which could include a nominal fee per submission. Although this could deter some users, it's designed to discourage bulk, low-quality responses without weighing heavily on genuine contributors. Importantly, this could also ensure that responses remain a fair playing field, rather than being influenced by who can pay the most.

However, addressing the flip side of these potential changes is essential. While these updates might discourage spam, they also raise questions about accessibility for occasional responders who perceive the new system as a hassle. It's a delicate balance between enhancing quality and maintaining a diverse and rich pool of sources willing to engage with the platform.

As I continue to explore, it’s worth noting that HARO's commitment to quality contributions remains a top priority. Despite the introduction of possible fees and a more sophisticated submission system, maintaining a free and open channel for high-quality exchanges is a cornerstone of what HARO aims to preserve as it steps into the future.

The Future Potential of HARO

Integrating AI Technology

The integration of AI into HARO could revolutionize how journalists and sources connect. I'm watching closely as AI technologies like natural language processing potentially enable HARO to match queries with responses more intelligently and efficiently. The goal is to sort through the noise and instantly identify authentic, high-quality contributions, reducing the clatter of irrelevant pitches. With a more sophisticated AI, even occasional responders stand a chance to have their expertise recognized, enhancing the quality and relevance of HARO exchanges.

Increased Competition

While HARO's legacy in connecting journalists with sources is renowned, the emergence of niche-oriented and geographically targeted services cannot be ignored. These platforms, like "help a b2b writer out," cater to specific market segments, compelling HARO to evolve or risk losing ground. My strategy focuses on understanding these competitive landscapes to ensure HARO stays ahead by continuously innovating and expanding its offerings while maintaining its position as a versatile platform for various industries.

Maintaining User Trust

For any service like HARO, maintaining user trust is key to longevity. I'm keenly aware of the balance that must be struck between leveraging AI and preserving the human element that fosters trust. Journalists seek value above noise, while sources want their stories to be heard. It's essential that HARO's updates and improvements always centre around enhancing the user experience, ensuring the platform remains valuable, transparent, and approachable for both journalists and experts in an increasingly digital ecosystem.


Looking ahead, I'm optimistic about HARO's evolution. With AI's integration, the platform is set to redefine media outreach, ensuring that journalists and sources can connect more efficiently than ever before. Yet, amidst the tech advancements, HARO's success hinges on its ability to adapt to the competitive landscape and its commitment to the human touch that builds trust. I'm eager to see how HARO will navigate these waters and continue to be a pivotal resource in the PR and journalism worlds.