10 free online tools every PR pro should master

Communicators love free resources. Who doesn’t? This article by PR Daily Europe editor Adam Vincenzini was one of the most popular stories of the year.

The tools and resources I’m about to walk you through must be part of a modern communicator’s arsenal, if not today, then by the end of 2010.

For some of you, these might seem basic. For others, they might be a little foreign, but no matter which camp you are in, they should be part of your daily routine … no excuses!

1. AllTop

AllTop is an incredible resource. For those who know it, you’ll agree that it is an online magazine rack for some of the best blogs around.

The site is broken down by subject and gives you direct access to the topics and authors of interest to you.

PR value: Not sure about which blogs are prominent in which sector? This is a great place to start.

2. Social Mention

This is an easy-to-use monitoring tool. It may not be the most robust, but it gives you a decent look at brand/subject mentions across blogs, microblogs, video sharing sites, social networks and much more.

PR value: It provides a quick reference of what’s recently been said about your subject of interest.

3. Bing real-time Twitter search

This is a great way of seeing what’s hot and trending at any particular time.The beauty of this service is that it features real-time snippets of the most shared links in relation to many subject areas. And, it all occurs in real-time.

PR value: It allows you to get the source of popular discussions and trace its development.

4. Klout

Although it’s dangerous to get too caught up in the “influencer” debate, this tool is as close as you’ll get to learning who is driving which conversations.

Not every social media user has signed up to Klout so you may miss a few people, but chances are you’ll get a decent picture of the scene.

PR value: This will allow you to identify some key conversation drivers.

5. BackTweets

This is an easy-to-use tool. Simply enter a URL into the search bar and it will provide you with a list of every tweet that has ever contained a link/reference to that website.

PR value: If you are running a campaign and want to see how much traffic has been driven your website, type it in here and you’ll get an idea of how much that site address is being shared.

6. Wordle

If you haven’t heard of this one, I guarantee it’ll become a favorite quickly. Wordle creates word clouds based on the content of a blog or website with an RSS feed.

PR value: Want to creatively present what a blog is all about? This does it for you in seconds. It’s especially useful if you want to an overview about what a blogger writes about.

7. Google Trends

Here’s another great tool in gathering intelligence. Google Trends will display the frequency in which a subject is mentioned in chronological and country-by-country order.

PR value: Planning on launching an campaign? Run a quick search to see which time of year the world is talking about that subject.

8. BlogPulse

As far as blog search tools go, this one ranks high and might even overshadow Google’s Blog search in some areas.

PR value: See who is writing about your brand or subject of interest in a flash.

9. Alexa

If you want to get a handle on the DNA of a website or blog, this is a good place to start. It will tell you how much traffic a site gets, where that traffic is coming from, whether it is gaining more traction, etc.

PR value: Monitor the traffic of your site or blog, and check on the competition. See where you need to focus more effort.

10. SWiX

If you only use one tool a day, try and make it this one. It is a simple way of tracking activity across all of your social networks and platforms.

PR value: At-a-glance intelligence.

Tools are helpful if used the right way. And the best tools are the ones which allow you to listen and observe, and help you gain a better understanding of the environment you’re operating in.

Adam Vincenzini is a senior consultant at Paratus Communications in London, where he is increasingly mixing traditional and digital PR for the agency’s clients. He also blogs at Thecommscorner.com.

Topics: PR

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