How NOT to Use Tools Like SOS and Qwoted to Gain Media Coverage

First there was Profnet. Then HARO (Help A Reporter Out). Then other similar tools entered the space, clearly to combat a decline in the value of pitches these early channels were generating. Most recently, Peter Shankman, the guy who created HARO, has launched SOS (formerly, and quite briefly, HERO). It’s a welcome new tool that, at least for now, seems to be successfully thrwarting the fake profiles and bot/GenAI-generated pitches.

I use SOS, Qwoted, and Help a B2B Writer myself—both when writing blog posts and articles and looking for sources, and when exploring media opportunities for myself and clients. Through my experiences—both good and bad—I’ve learned some important best practices and gained important insights about what not to do when hoping to gain a reporter’s attention.

Actual Pitches I’ve Received

These are all actual responses that I’ve received, along with a look at what’s wrong with them—at least IMHO.

Pitch #1

“I have several comments I could make, what specific questions are you wanting answered?”


My posts usually generate dozens of responses. Only the best get my attention. That means only the posts that clearly tell me why the individual would be a credible and relevant source, what their credentials are, and what valid and valuable information they would be able to offer. I, and others who post pitches, don’t have the time to engage with every pitch received. Pitches like this go immediately to trash.

Pitch #2

“I would be happy to submit an article to you on that topic or to provide a sidebar.”


Uh, I’m writing this article, not looking for collaborators.

Pitch #3

In response to my request for sources to interview for stories about how to ensure sustainability for a one-person consultancy: “I would love to interview the Walt Disney Company to see what they did to insure (sic) continuity after he died. The (sic) continue to offer amazing services and products to children and families. As a management consultant, I would say that planning for this transition can help insure (sic) continuity.”



Pitch #4

In response to the same request: “I have specific examples and thoughts to share on this subject matter. If you’re still looking for content and subject matter experts here, let me know.”


Again, amid dozens of other pitches, a pitch like this without any context or indication of subject matter expertise will land in trash. If I receive the same type of pitch from the same person consistently, they will also end up in the spam file.

Attempting to entice reporters by being clever or hinting at some great information you could share with them, simply doesn’t work in these services. Again, remember that yours is just one of many responses. If you’ve given me no sense of why I should spend time following up with you on the off chance that you might have something valuable to offer, I’m simply not going to bother.

Pitch #5

“I would be interested in what your situation is currently and why this topic is of interest at this time. Also we should discuss your current understanding of (topic)…I suspect this will take more than 15 minutes…”


What? Sounds like an invitation to be schooled. Sorry, not interested.

Pitch #6

“I know you’re looking for input from nurses, but…” and “I’m from California, but…”


I had asked for sources from nurses in the midwest. Not only will these emails go into the trash file, but I’ll be a little skeptical of any future pitches I might receive from this source. Again, they’re likely to end up in my spam folder.

Pitch #7

“I’ve got the perfect source for you!”


That may be, but you haven’t taken the time to provide me with any specific details and I don’t have the time to circle back with you to see what is so perfect about your source.

Multiple Pitches

Created by GenAI, or generative AI tools.


This input has the potential to negatively impact my own content if I would incorporate it. AI lies, or “hallucinates” frequently so the accuracy of the input can’t be trusted.

How do I know it’s AI-generated? Because I have a very good AI detection tool that I use so I can detect and delete this type of input.

Getting it Right to Gain Attention—And Coverage

The most important thing to understand if you’re using a service like HERO to gain media exposure is that the reporters/writers who are posting these opportunities receive dozens—DOZENS—of responses.

You’re competing with a lot of others who are also eager for exposure, many who have a very solid understanding of what it takes to stand out from the masses.

Basically, what it takes is:

  • A pitch that is germane to the reporter’s story. If they ask for someone from New York, don’t respond if you’re from Wyoming. If they’re looking for a business owner, don’t respond if you wrote a book about owning businesses (unless you also own one).
  • Specific detail about your credentials related to the reporter’s request. What background/experience do you have that makes you a potential expert source? Remember, you’re competing with other experts—what makes you stand out?
  • A specific and somewhat detailed response to the reporter’s topic. You don’t want to submit an article, but providing specific examples, tips and details can help you support your credibility and, in some cases, reporters will pull from the email comments you made and atttribute them to you (a good reason to use a tool like Google Alerts to track places where you may have been mentioned).
  • Courtesy and a certain amount of deference. Don’t be demanding with reporters—you’re not calling the shots here (unless you’re a top-notch celebrity or significant expert on a particular topic)—they are. There are many, many, many other experts out there clamoring to be sources. Give editors and reporters a reason to pick you.
  • Helpfulness. Sometimes you may not be the right source, but you may know a great source and can make a connection for the reporter—they really appreciate that (if, again, the source is pertinent to their request/topic).
  • Being human! Don’t use GenAI to write your pitches.

When you respond to a reporter’s request on a site like HERO, you’re basically making a sales pitch. You want to make sure you understand the needs of the editor/reporter and that you’re able to clearly convey why you can meet those needs.

You do that through on-target, detailed pitches that clearly convey why you’re a great source.


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Strategic Communications, LLC, works with B2B clients to help them achieve their goals through effective content marketing and management with both internal and external audiences. We work with clients to plan, create and publish high-quality, unique content. Whether on- or offline, or both, we’ll help you achieve desired results at reasonable rates.

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