Questionable Queries from the Underbelly of HARO


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As digital marketers, we’re no strangers to the bizarre joys of the internet. If you think we’re talking about the depths of places like TikTok and Reddit, think again. Lately some of the biggest head-scratchers have come from one of the more buttoned-up corners of the internet – at least, so we thought!

Help A Reporter Out (HARO), run by Cision, connects journalists and bloggers to expert sources through daily query lists sent by email. It’s used by some of the biggest names in the business, including Reuters, Forbes, and even The New York Times.

But for every few legitimate queries, we’ve found one or two that we could swear were fake. From the lighthearted and funny to the downright disturbing, here are some of the wackiest HARO queries we’ve come across this year.

9 HARO queries we could swear were April Fool’s pranks (but aren’t)

1. Animal instincts

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Apparently humans are not the only animals to engage in sex work. At least, that’s the implication of this query looking for expert sources on transactional sexual behavior in “penguins, chimps, and capuchins, specifically.” Where is David Attenborough when you need him?

2. Could you be a little more specific?

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It would be an understatement to say that the pandemic made 2020 (and the start of 2021) extraordinarily challenging for everyone, especially those already struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental illness. It should be easier for everyone to get the mental health support they need.

That said, we’re a little confused as to what exactly the person who wrote this query was looking for. We hope they got the answers they needed.

3. Is that legal?

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Don’t get us wrong. We have our fair share of cat-lovers here at RMG. That said, we weren’t expecting quarantine habits to go this far. We’re hoping the writer who created this query kept the date night tips purely platonic. If not, there are a surprising number of states where you might be able get away with something a little more… um, “romantic”?

4. Let’s sync up soon… but not like that

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We’re not scientists, but we’re pretty sure the answer to this is going to be “no.” Then again, we wouldn’t have predicted a global pandemic lasting more than a year either, so what do we know?

In all seriousness, what is known as period syncing, menstrual synchrony, or the McClintock effect – the phenomenon in which the menstrual cycles of women living or working in close proximity “sync up” – is not supported by recent research.

5. Welcome to the (infinite) future

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On the surface, this seems like a reasonable question. We’re not gonna say no to a little imagination, and who doesn’t love a good sci-fi themed ethical debate? What we weren’t expecting was for the query to get so dark so quickly:

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Well when you say it like that… I guess I’ll take death, thanks.

6. Puppy or pistachio?

After that last one, you could probably use something a little more lighthearted. How about puppies? How about puppies with green fur? Because apparently that’s a thing, and it recently happened to an Italian puppy called, appropriately, Pistachio.

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If any scientists did end up responding to this query, they might have explained that one potential cause is the chemical biliverdin, a pigment found in bile that can in extremely rare cases come in contact with a fetus while in the womb and “dye” its fur green.

Apparently the condition is only temporary, so if you happen to come in contact with one of these rarities, enjoy it while it lasts.

7. Too much hummus

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Nope, nothing more to it. Just someone wondering how to know when you’ve eaten too much hummus. We didn’t know an expert medical opinion would be necessary for such a question, but apparently there are people out there who just have no idea how to tell when they’ve eaten too much hummus. We’d offer some suggestions, but it’s probably best for you to use your own imagination here.

8. Bernie Sanders does NOT support this message

After a holiday season in which most of us were forced to skip the usual festivities in the interest of safety, the Bernie Sanders mittens meme that exploded after Joe Biden’s inauguration gave everybody some much needed comic relief. Considering he and his signature green coat were popping up pretty much everywhere, we shouldn’t have been surprised to see him in the HARO queries too:

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If you’re as confused and delighted as we were, you’ll love the actual Michigan real estate listing that went viral after Bernie and his mittens “posed” for a photo on the home’s front porch.

9. Don’t try this at home… or anywhere else, ever

HARO emails tend to be very long, and we’d be lying if we said our eyes don’t occasionally glaze over while looking for promising leads. Here’s a query we couldn’t have missed if we tried:

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Let that sink in. We’ll wait.

Yes, apparently people are using toothpaste on their hardware to “last longer” while getting down – and no, it is not medically recommended. We sincerely hope for the sake of all male genitalia owners that this query was answered accurately and responsibly.

The value of expertise

Jokes aside, HARO is a great resource for journalists and other online writers. It’s also a great reminder of the value of expertise in any and every field. Just like good journalism, good digital marketing requires expert knowledge. We’d be happy to put ours to use to help you redefine your digital marketing strategy. Get in touch with the RMG team today!

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