Tools extend your natural abilities. They focus your energy. They allow you to go faster and farther. They multiply your efforts. If your goal is to work smarter, instead of harder, you need tools. If you want to excel, you need the best tools.
Every industry has its tool and the world of public relations is no exception. Whether you are a PR professional who is looking to do your job better or a business who wants to make sure you are getting the best from your PR firm, it is helpful to know which tools will serve you best. This guide will provide with an overview of the type of tools the public relations professionals use and some specific examples that show what they can achieve.
What PR tools will not do for you
Before we explore some of the more powerful public relations tools that are available for boosting PR efforts, we need to clarify what they will not do. Tools for public relations can only amplify your efforts. They don’t do the work for you; they make the work easier. In other words, if you don’t have a strong grasp on how PR works, the tools probably will not deliver the results you are expecting.
If your goal is learning how to PR, check out this ultimate guide that we provided in a previous blog post. If you already know how to use PR, read on to discover some tools that can help to make your PR campaigns even stronger.
PR tools that extend your reach (a.k.a. How to propel your press releases)
As I mentioned, one of the things that tools do is multiply your efforts. A big part of PR work is getting information out to newsrooms and other media outlets. As a result, there are a number of tools designed to multiply your distribution efforts by making it easier to disseminate information.
Many of these tools fall under the heading of “Journalist Outreach Tools.” In essence, they make it easier for you to connect with the journalists that can get your story in the media. Cision is an example of one of these types of tools. (Even the tag line on their website promises to “amplify” your PR power, which is totally tool-speak.) Cision provides a massive database of media contacts, allows you to build your own lists that includes those most relevant to your pitching, and empowers you to propel your press releases to all of them with a few clicks. With tools like Cision, you can streamline your media relations process and improve your chance of connecting with the right journalist.
Some of these tools extend your reach beyond the traditional media channels to connect with influencers, bloggers, and other non-traditional media voices. NinjaOutreach is an example of this type of tool. It not only helps you to reach out to them, but gives you an alert when your pitch results in them getting back to you.
PR tools that perfect your timing (a.k.a. How to become a reporter’s favorite public relations contact)
Timing is important for maximizing your PR efforts. Getting in the news often requires knowing what is trending and providing relevant content. To make that task easier, there are a number of tools that will give you insight into the info that journalists need.
HARO, which stands for Help A Reporter Out, is one of these types of tools. It is a platform that allows journalists to connect with experts who can provide quotes for their work. For those who are able to be accessible and respond quickly, HARO and similar sites serve as a great tool for quick media wins.
PR tools that focus your efforts (a.k.a. How to make sure your public relations activities rank well)
One of the great things about PR is its shelf life. Thanks to search engines, media coverage you obtain today can continue to attract attention for weeks to come. To increase the chances of that happening, however, you need to make sure that you are answering the right questions. In other words, you need to pay attention to SEO.
AnswerThePublic is an example of a tool that can help PR agencies with SEO. Type in a topic that relates to a client, like drones, driving, or personal development, and AnswerThePublic shows you the most popular search engine queries related to that topic. By better understanding the questions that the public is asking about the topic, you can make sure that your media provides the answer to those questions.
PR tools that maximize results (a.k.a. How to know if your news releases are landing)
Management guru Peter Drucker is often credited with saying, “You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” If, as many believe, the statement is true, then managing your PR efforts requires having a way to measure their effectiveness. This is where PR Tracking Tools come in.
Mention is a tool that allows users to track how much media activity is resulting from their PR efforts. It claims to monitor more than 1 billion sources, including press articles, user reviews, discussion forums, and blogs. By capturing each new media ping, PR tracking tools allow brands to assess ROI and adjust to maximize results.
PR tools that boost your skills (a.k.a. How to keep typos out of your pitches)
PR involves a lot of writing. The better the writing, the better the chance of it landing well. Whether it is a pitch, a press release, or a guest article, PR pros should make sure to take advantage of the wide variety of tools available to help with writing.
Grammarly is a perfect example of a tool that can be used to make writing better. It goes well beyond catching typos to offer suggestions on grammar, punctuation, and clarity. By leveraging the power of AI, writing tools serve as an ever-ready editor who can take writing to the next level.
Other writing tools zero in on specific writing tasks that PR pros regularly must accomplish. For example, Subject Line is a PR tool focused on email subject lines. It not only evaluates subject lines for clickability, but also provides a list of trending topics that can be used to increase a subject line’s relevancy.
Making the investment in public relations tools
As this guide illustrates, leveraging public relations to grow your organization can involve quite an investment. Few of the best tools are free and using them often requires spending time on training as well as implementation. When deciding whether to use these tools on your own or enlist the services of a PR team, make sure to include the costs of licensing them, getting up to speed, and committing a staff person to the task. You may find that the best route is partnering with a PR firm that is already making use of the best PR tools.