“Can we repurpose that byline and get that release on the wire for the AM please?”. It’s fair to say that as an industry, PR comes with a whole new language to learn, and unpicking some of the complexities is no mean feat.
Thankfully, though, there are vital hacks and tools of the trade to guide and support you. Especially if you’re starting out your career and are primarily media-facing, moving up and handling comms, there are a variety of PR tools available to reduce time spent on admin and streamline your tasks.
In this blog, we’ll look at both free and subscription-based PR tools, and how to use them.
Free PR resources
The best things in life are free. When it comes to the best online PR tools, this is certainly true. Many of the most useful resources can be downloaded free of charge and registering only requires an email sign-up.
Keeping a finger on the pulse of the news, and monitoring for brand coverage, is a huge part of what we do.
Some of the best free PR tools:
Compiles all news stories and filters by topic, making morning news sweeps more efficient. Allows you to proactively jump on news stories, comment in good time and capitalise on newsjacking opportunities
The SimilarWeb browser plug-in provides stats on a publication’s reach, audience demographic, and bounce rate along with other useful data to share with a client or stakeholder. You can use the site or add the Chrome plug-in.
Journalist asking for photos to go along with the piece you’ve submitted? It can be tricky pinning down some media-friendly and non-cliché photos to share with them, but this site has got you covered. Everything from cloud computing to, well, anything really – and all royalty free.
News usually erupts on Twitter first. Journalists find their tips from the Tweet grapevine, so keeping a firm eye on the #journorequest hashtag can often mean landing some very impressive media opportunities and helping to form some solid media relationships. Arguably one of the best online PR tools out there for media interactions.
Think: Google alerts, but more niche. These personalised keyword searches deliver search engine roundups of coverage straight to your inbox which makes it ideal for PR monitoring.
The original, and one of the most effective, ways to monitor for coverage appearing online using specific keywords. Choosing the right search terms and setting them up in Google alerts means you can have your ear to the ground and spot any mention of your brand as it happens.
Another free PR monitoring tool that picks up print coverage. Very useful if you can’t get your hands on daily broadsheets.
Tasks that would ordinarily take hours of manual searching and input can be reduced to minutes with the use of free online PR tools. For research tasks, like developing events and awards calendars for your brand, more often than not, there will be sites dedicated to offering compilations of the best-in-class industry ones.
Reaching out and prospecting isn’t just limited to the sales function, either. PR professionals, when trying to expand their portfolio, need cost-effective ways of approaching new business contacts. Hunter.io accurately suggests the email domain structure for a company you’re trying to contact, free of charge.
Investments: subscription-based PR tools
Equipping teams with the knowledge they need can sometimes come at a cost, but they are definitely worth the investment. Some of the best online PR tools to invest in are undoubtedly:
Roxhill is an extensive database of journalists and their preferred contact details, keeping you up to date with career moves and industry trends. What’s great about this tool is how it pins down the specific beats and topic focuses of the journalists, allowing PR professionals to approach them with tailored knowledge as to what they’re currently writing on (B2B tech, for example). Valuable, very valuable indeed, for getting the right attention. The interface is extremely user-friendly and there’s also pre-made press lists available.
The original, the go-to for media requests. Journalists put out requests via ResponseSource regularly and have been using it as a valuable resource for some time now. The subscription allows you to choose to receive alerts for sectors and topics that are relevant to your brand, and sets you up with regular email alerts – an essential PR tool.
The holy grail for compiling and sharing press coverage. Simply add the links, add the hard copy coverage pictures, and voila – site metrics, social shares, embedded links, estimated views – everything you need to show off your hard work. All in a slick format.
All of these investments pay for themselves in dividends, and used wisely can wield some seriously impressive results.
Trade secrets, not so secret
Fortunately, there are lots of savvy programmes to help you navigate this career path. PR comes with an arsenal of digital tools to help connect with the media and expand your brand’s presence beyond simple email marketing techniques.
The best PR tools don’t need to break the bank. Keeping pace with breaking news and tracking for press coverage doesn’t require a mammoth budget. All it takes is the know-how and a few trade secrets.