How to Become a Media Resource Fast and FreeNo matter what product or service you sell, every local business owner is an expert at something. That makes you a valuable resource to thousands of editors, journalists, reporters, bloggers, television and radio show producers and other media people nationwide. The trick to landing free media opportunities that can give you and your business a giant PR boost is getting your basic information in the right hands at the right time.

Thanks to a service called HARO – short for “Help A Reporter Out” – small business owners have a terrific way to connect with journalists and others working on stories that could benefit from your expertise. From the New York Times to ABC News, CNN, Fox, the Huffington Post and everyone in between, nearly 30,000 members of the media have quoted HARO sources – including many local business owners – in their stories.

You can become one of those sources with a free HARO subscription. The free version delivers media opportunities to your email inbox three times daily. That includes all topic areas, so you’ll have to dig through them to find those in your subject area. When you see one that fits your expertise, just drop the reporter an email with your contact information. It’s that simple.

To make it even easier and more powerful, the basic paid version of HARO ($19/month) will filter opportunities for you and send only the ones that match your keyword preferences. A paid subscription also lets you create an online profile so journalists will know whether you are a good fit for their stories. Or you can search the HARO database at any time for media opportunities that have been posted by reporters.

Peter Shankman, a high-energy entrepreneur who skydives and does iron man competitions, founded HARO in 2007 and later sold it to Vocus, a major media database provider for the public relations industry. As Shankman notes, a key to becoming a successful media resource is not merely to make yourself known, but to make yourself relevant and different from everyone else.

Sign up online at the HARO website.