Daniel Burstein

Top HARO (Help A Reporter Out) Alternatives: How to find primary sources for business journalism and content marketing

June 11th, 2024

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At MarketingSherpa, I craft in-depth marketing case studies and data-driven articles. And I host the How I Made It In Marketing podcast.

I would fail miserably at these endeavors without sources.

Our focus is primary sources, the actual people and companies doing the work, who researched the data, or who lived that career journey.

For a long time, I used a service called Help A Reporter Out, also known by its acronym – HARO.

But HARO was shut down/rebranded/replatformed earlier this year. And while there are many older posts on the best HARO alternatives that were written while HARO existed, ironically, I’ve seen very little press about what to do now that HARO no longer exists.

Also, most posts about HARO are from the perspective of pitching to get into an article, often for SEO reasons and link building.

I’ve found a lot less info out there for journalists, reporters, and content marketers to help them find primary sources now that HARO no longer exists.

So here are some places to find primary sources for articles, blog posts, podcast interview, and the like, along with my personal experience with them. If you know of any good places to find sources that I have overlooked, or simply have different opinions or experiences on any of the below, just email me at Daniel.Burstein@Meclabs.com. I intend this to be an on-going resource for all reporters and content marketers. Also, these are only my opinions and others likely have different ideas or experiences.

A little background on HARO

Before I share alternatives, I think I should provide some background in case you’re not familiar with Help A Reporter Out. While not the official history, this is my personal journey with HARO.

I first discovered HARO in 2009ish when I saw Peter Shankman (its founder) present at a small business conference. He wasn’t pitching the service, he was teaching his lessons about being a small business entrepreneur – cash flow, payroll, rewards credit cards, office space, whatever.

But the minute I heard the name – Help A Reporter Out – and understood what the service did, I was sold. It was an instantly powerful value proposition.

HARO was a journalist query service, and I believe it was the first one ever. Before then (and still to this day) journalists are often pitched with press releases and emails about whatever the PR rep or SEO wants to pitch (spam?).

With a journalist query service, the reporter could tell the world what he or she is looking for (that is the journalist’s query), and then they would (hypothetically) get only relevant responses.

HARO was an email-based query service. I highly prefer email-based query services for a few reasons:

  • I want one inbox. Because I get a lot of pitches. A LOT. Which is great. That is essential to my job. You have to sift through a lot of sand to find a nugget of gold. I haven’t found any other way to end up with high-quality content than starting with A LOT of pitches and sifting through them. Which means, I don’t have time to go to many different inboxes in different platforms. I want just one inbox. My own, that I have total control over (helped by Outlook Rules).
  • If all pitches are in my Outlook, I also have one place I can search through them, including the entire history of the conversation
  • Email-based query services tend to give you an immediate bump of source pitches at your highest moment of motivation, when you recently submitted the query, versus platform-based services which tend to take longer

While HARO was email-based, many (but not all) newer query services provide a platform that you have to operate in.

Still others are meant to only be used as an app on your phone. I didn’t include those because I’ve never used them. I don’t understand how anyone could manage a lot of pitches on a phone. I use my laptop where I can type a bajillion words per minute faster than on my phone (and get less carpal tunnel as well).

So I agree with this recent quote from Shankman, “I had a journalism professor at Boston University who once told me, ‘be brilliant at the basics,’ which is the best piece of advice. I’m a big believer in email. I’ve always said it’s the killer app” (via Sarah Beling in Sending Out an ‘SOS’: Peter Shankman Launches Journalist Source Platform from Hell’s Kitchen).

At some point, Cision bought HARO from Shankman. And ultimately, Cision decided to shut HARO down and rebrand/migrate it to a new service called Connectively. Which brings us to today, and the necessity for journalists to have HARO alternatives, like the below.

HARO alternatives


Qwoted – ‘Connecting the media with expert sources’


  • I tend to get high-quality sources from Qwoted, even though it’s a lower volume
  • There are humans behind the platform. They are helpful and friendly any time I’ve interacted with them.
  • They give a $5 Starbucks gift card any month you submit more than two requests in a month. Nice little touch to show journalists they are appreciated (although Starbucks gets a big CON from me for no longer supporting journalists by selling newspapers. You’re a coffee shop! Coffee and the newspaper goes together like sunshine and a morning walk).
  • I have published a lot of articles and podcasts with sources derived from Qwoted. Overall, Qwoted provides high-quality sources and I find it helpful despite its platform-based nature.


  • Qwoted is a platform-based query service. It does allow you to get pitches in your email inbox and reply to them directly from your inbox (an improvement from when it first launched). However, those emails don’t include the entire history of the conversation, for which you have to go into your Qwoted inbox inside its platform.

Connectively – ‘The New Home of HARO’


  • About a third to a half of the pitches are of decent quality, at a much lower volume than HARO, so you end up with less overall good pitches. Decent quality doesn’t mean publishable, it just means it’s not AI-written dreck like: “Implementing a data-driven, personalized email marketing strategy transformed our engagement and conversion rates. It was a game-changer for our business.” – Jane Doe, Marketing Manager, EcomShop
  • Since it’s one of the major brands in the journalist query service space – it is both owned by Cision and has the legacy of HARO – it has plenty of traction. And even though it hasn’t existed too long I’ve already published several sources derived from Connectively in articles and podcasts.
  • You get a lot of pitches pretty quickly, which is rare for a platform-based service, which tend to get you more of a slow trickle over time.


  • Half to two-thirds of the pitches I get are just AI-written dreck. My understanding was that Connectively was supposed to put an end to this problem – this was a problem on HARO before it ended – by charging for each pitch. But of all these potential places to find sources, I get the most AI-written trash from Connectively. There’s nothing wrong with using AI to help a pitch. After all, we have an AI – MeclabsAI. AI can brainstorm with you or analyze your pitch and help improve it. But don’t copy and paste an AI pitch and send it to a journalist. You’re just wasting everyone’s time.
  • Connectively is platform-based. They offer the feature to get emails for each pitch, but it’s a no-reply email, so that wasn’t helpful for me, and I stopped it. They do offer the ability to email the source from within the platform which is nice, because after that your conversation is email-based. However, there is no search function in the platform, so when they email me back, it’s time-consuming to manually click through and find what the source’s original pitch was.
  • For some reason, three of my queries were marked as ‘spam.’ But Connectively keeps them in ‘My Queries’ and I can’t archive them (that ability is grayed out). So they are stuck in purgatory, cluttering up the ‘My Queries’ section.
  • There is no inbox in the platform. So I have to go to each individual query to see submissions. If I only have one query live, not a huge hassle. If I have several queries live, it’s just extra clicks I don’t need in my life.

Source of Sources – ‘SOS: By Peter Shankman’


  • Email-based query service, just like HARO used to be. Makes sense because this is from Peter Shankman, the founder of HARO. You could call it ‘back by popular demand’ – Shankman claims he started SOS because so much people asked him to. And I’m not doubting it. I’m glad he started it as well. He called it HERO (Help Every Reporter Out) when he first launched it.
  • I can’t find it on the landing page now, but it used to have copy along the lines of ‘you’ll know when your query went out because your inbox will be flooded with good pitches.’ I’m paraphrasing, I don’t remember the exact line. There is plenty of truth to that sentiment – all-of-a-sudden pitches will start popping up in my inbox. I wouldn’t go so far as to say flooded, but there is a decent volume, and very little absolute dreck. To be clear, I still don’t end up publishing the vast majority of pitches, but they do seem like reasonable, real pitches written by an actual human being who is trying to answer the query – a huge win in a spam-filled internet dominated by bots, click bait, and link fishing.
  • Even though it’s quite new (I think it’s just a few weeks old) I already have some possible promising sources, and I think I’ve booked a podcast guest or two off of it. I credit that to Shankman’s reputation. According to the previously mentioned article by Beling, the site has already gotten 21,000 signups.
  • I say ‘they’ when I talk about SOS but I’m guessing it might just be Peter all by himself. My hats off when it’s a real human behind the technology.


  • There is no ability to control when your query goes out, like you could with HARO. I’m writing analysis articles, not breaking news, so most of my content is evergreen. I don’t need to put a quick deadline out there. So I normally give my queries a deadline of a week so anyone pitching me has some time to collect information and make a compelling pitch. With HARO, I could suggest a date (they always complied) and then it would go out with a week for potential sources. With SOS, they seem to sit on my query for a few days since it’s not very pressing.
  • While I already have some possible promising sources, this is nowhere near HARO in its heyday, yet. That might be unfair to even mention since it’s so new, but I don’t want to set the expectation that SOS is a perfect HARO replacement since its email based on run by Shankman. It will take time to see if SOS will meet or exceed HARO. Or if when you get the band back together, the songs just don’t rock as hard as the first time around.

Help a B2B Writer – ‘Connecting B2B writers with top-quality sources’


  • That name looks familiar, doesn’t it? This works a lot like HARO (email-based) but is focused on business-to-business, which is perfect for me
  • They ask for your site’s domain authority when you submit a query, which I like because MarketingSherpa has a high DA (but you might not like this if you’re just starting out)
  • Haven’t had issues with spam or AI-written dreck


  • No cons per se. I haven’t gotten many sources from here, but I have gotten some. And like all of these options it’s free and doesn’t take much time, so it doesn’t hurt to give it, or any of these, a try.

ProfNet – ProfNet Connect Journalists to Expert Sources


  • I’ve gotten very high-quality sources from ProfNet. You get far fewer pitches, but I’ve probably gotten higher-quality sources from ProfNet than from anywhere else. Like Connectively/HARO, ProfNet is also owned by Cision.
  • Email based


  • Doesn’t work with Firefox anymore, so use a Chromium browser like Chrome or Edge
  • Doesn’t seem as active as it used to be

SourceBottle – ‘The media wants your stories and this is where they look.’


  • Email-based query service similar to HARO
  • Very little dreck/spam, but also not a lot of pitches
  • I’ve gotten articles sources from here, though less than the previously mentioned options


  • While it does have other country options, most pitches I’ve gotten from SourceBottle were from Australians. There’s nothing wrong with that because we have a global audience so we publish Australian companies, but it does help me that all of the previously mentioned options tend to be geographically diverse.
  • Small character limit of 280 characters for your query (labeled ‘call out summary’ by SourceBottle)

ResponseSource – ‘Connecting media and influencers to the sources they need, fast’


  • Email-based query service similar to HARO
  • Very little dreck/spam, but also not a lot of pitches
  • I’ve gotten articles sources from here, though less than the previously mentioned options


  • Most pitches I’ve gotten from ResponseSource were from the United Kingdom. There’s nothing wrong with that because we have a global audience so we publish UK companies, but it does help me when a query service offers geographic diversity in its pitches.

Featured – ‘Exposure for experts. Content for publishers. Win, win.’


  • You get all the pitches, at once, in one document, with all of the information you need about the source, from a human being who works at Featured (or they’ll even write the article for you). Featured used to be called Terkel.
  • There are real humans behind this platform and they will help you. Other than Qwoted, I’ve probably had more human interaction with Featured than with any other option.


  • ‘You get all the pitches…’ Same as what I listed under PROS. I’m including Featured because this may be what you’re looking for, but it doesn’t tend to work for me. For me, the pitch isn’t the end game, it’s the beginning. Then we go through a series of email follow-ups to get a story.
  • Queries are very limited and very short – just a quick question – so it is hard to get the rich detail I need for the articles I write
  • Can’t get podcast guests since the querying is so limited
  • It takes a while. When I’ve logged in recently, the closest deadline I could find is two weeks away.
  • There is pressure to publish the pitches you get. Maybe this is something I put on myself than they actually put on me, but since there is a human intermediary from Featured, once you get the pitches, it just feels like ‘ok, now let us know when the article is live.’
  • It’s hard to do followups, since you don’t get any contact info for the sources. You can do followup through the Featured rep, but that just makes everything harder when you’re already busy. But again this goes hand-in-hand with getting everything packaged up for you and they can even write the article for you. This doesn’t work for me because I’m doing my own reporting and the pitch is just a start, I want to work directly with the source and we write our own articles at MarketingSherpa. But it might work for you.
  • I’ve tended to get low-quality responses. I think that’s mostly because of the nature of the short questions.

#JournoRequest or #JournoRequests on social media (mostly Twitter/X)


  • You can get your queries in front of your followers. This is most popular on Twitter (I cannot bring myself to call it X just like I still want to call Citi Field, Shea Stadium), but I’ve also tried it on LinkedIn and Facebook
  • Even though you’re only placing it on social media, there are services that hoover up these requests off of social media and share them with potential sources


  • Character limit (at least on Twitter, unless you go premium and support either a billionaire Bond villain or real-life Tony Stark, depending on how you view Elon Musk)
  • Can’t really hide your email and get good responses. This doesn’t bother me, I’ve learned how to manage large volumes of email, but some of the above options can hide your identity and email if that’s important to you. For me, I put my email address directly in my profile so people can easily get into my inbox

Daniel Burstein Twitter X account



  • Even though I’m talking about all of these query services, I get at least half (or more) of my sources directly from email pitches. But I’ve been doing this a long time and have worked with a lot of PRs, marketers, and entrepreneurs who have my email address. I’m also listed in a lot of media databases. If you’re just starting out, you’ll probably have to do a lot more fishing using the above tactics before your email inbox starts filling up.


  • My email inbox is a bit like Mad Max, a post-apocalyptic info inferno where vicious gangs of marauders constantly attack and try to steal my time and attention, but only the strong (pitches) survive and the weak are chewed up and cast out into a land of desolation. OK, that’s a bit melodramatic, but I do get a lot of email, most of it is not helpful, and within all that mess are a sacred few true diamonds in the rough that I love helping to polish and share with our audience. I’ve learned two things. One, Outlook Rules are essential. And two, don’t read the emails you get until the person on the other end has put in more effort. To do that, I use my own version of challenge-response authentication. I respond to every email with my latest query. And only when people reply to that do I give their email a few moments of time to scan it. Here’s my query as an example…

We are looking for sources to publish in upcoming MarketingSherpa articles…

Marketing Example with Results

Looking for a marketing example with results. Please show us how you did it, don’t just tell us you did it.

To see exactly what we publish, take a look at our previous articles:




A second opinion

To get a second opinion, I posed this question to MeclabsAI (parent organization of MarketingSherpa) and got this helpful table as part of the response:

Platform Description Best For
SourceBottle A platform connecting journalists with sources, offering a wide range of expertise across sectors. Varied industries, especially in Australia & NZ.
ProfNet Facilitates connections between journalists and industry experts, provided by PR Newswire. Accessing academic and corporate expertise.
JournoRequests Curates requests from journalists on social media, providing a daily digest of sourcing opportunities. Quick responses and trending topic coverage.
Queryly Designed for in-depth queries, offering detailed request options and expert source matching. Specialized, complex topics.
Expertise Finder A searchable database of experts, designed to connect journalists directly with professionals. Finding academic and field-specific experts.
Muck Rack Offers tools for journalists to find and contact experts, with a focus on PR professionals and companies. Access to a wide range of professional sources.

I hope this guide helps you navigate the post-HARO landscape effectively. If you have other suggestions or experiences, please share them with me at Daniel.Burstein@Meclabs.com

Related resources

Journalistic Content Marketing: Storytelling has magic and beauty (podcast episode #87)

Public Relations: The best press release is no press release

Content Marketing: Strategies of businesses that improved (and replaced) digital content marketing

Daniel Burstein

About Daniel Burstein

Daniel Burstein, Senior Director of Editorial Content, MECLABS. Daniel oversees all content and marketing coming from the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa brands while helping to shape the editorial direction for MECLABS – digging for actionable information while serving as an advocate for the audience. Daniel is also a speaker and moderator at live events and on webinars. Previously, he was the main writer powering MarketingExperiments publishing engine – from Web clinics to Research Journals to the blog. Prior to joining the team, Daniel was Vice President of MindPulse Communications – a boutique communications consultancy specializing in IT clients such as IBM, VMware, and BEA Systems. Daniel has 18 years of experience in copywriting, editing, internal communications, sales enablement and field marketing communications.

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