12 of the best online tools for PR pros

All industry insiders have their favorite resources for getting the job done. Here are 12 indispensable tools for communicators.

Which tools can you not live without?

With so many services and platforms for researching PR opportunities, finding the right media contacts and sharing your message—not to mention keeping track of it all—figuring out where to begin can be overwhelming.

Here are 12 of the most helpful tools for PR pros looking to ease their workload:

Finding PR opportunities and building media lists

1. Cision

Cision offers a full suite for PR professionals, but it also comes with a hefty price tag. If you work with a wide array of clients in different industries, it can be worth the cost. If the fee is out of your budget, Cision does offer some co-op options and a lesser known platform at a lower rate that’s very straight forward, without all of the bells and whistles.

Cision also hosts a multitude of free webinars with PR industry leaders, which can be extremely valuable, especially if you are looking for continued education opportunities from your desk.

2. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a content research and social sharing/monitoring tool that is mainly used as a tool for SEO managers and content marketing professionals but also provides value for PR pros by locating opportunities. You can search by specific topics to see where they are trending and who is writing about them. It also allows you to also easily discover the number of social shares and identify social influencer opportunities.

3. Ahrefs

Ahrefs provides a comprehensive look into your backlink profile—who is mentioning you and your competitors and where. Use Ahrefs to perform a competitor backlink analysis, which can help shed light on places where your business or client could be included.

4. HARO

HARO is one of those daily emails you get that you want to ignore, but one you really shouldn’t. If you look closely, there is likely at least one opportunity in there for your client or your company. It’s also free.

5. PRSA

A PRSA membership has a lot to offer PR pros looking to advance their careers and seeking out continued education in this ever-changing industry. You have to join at the national and local level (be sure there is a local chapter before you sign up nationally), but membership gives you access to the PRSA forum, where PR professionals from all over the U.S. can ask questions and share advice and assets to other in the community.

At the local level, a PRSA membership provides a monthly lunch and learn platform, where typically someone from outside the community speaks on a trending topic, followed by a Q&A session. This is a great time to network with other PR pros and develop new relationships.

Even without a membership, you can sign up to receive the weekly PRSA roundup e-blast, which shares hot topics in the PR/advertising world, conferences and award submissions, and job opportunities (which you can submit to for free) around the United States.

Sharing Your Message

1. Dropbox

It is common knowledge in our industry that in 2018, journalists hate attachments. If you have more than just a link to share, Dropbox is the perfect resource for sharing multiple file formats and not clogging up reporters’ inboxes.

2. Grammar Girl (and the AP Stylebook)

The majority of PR pros adhere to AP-Style, and for a small fee you can download an updated “AP Stylebook” e-copy. Grammar Girl sticks pretty close to AP-style and is free.

3. Canva

To make things pretty and professional, Canva is a great, free resource to create visuals for presentations, blog posts, press releases, social posts and much more.

Tracking PR Opportunities

1. Outreach Tracking Template

It’s easy to get a few days—or weeks—deep into outreach without keeping track of your outreach efforts. Even though you’ve already built out a robust research list, new opportunities always arise.

Maybe an influencer or journalist caught your eye on Twitter, or you found a website that hosts a blog reel of related content. If you’re not keeping track of these efforts (or using a paid service to track for you), how can you effectively follow up, remember if and how they responded, or ultimately show results surrounding your long hours of outreach efforts?

This free, downloadable PR tracking template can help make a PR pro’s outreach tracking efforts much more organized.

2. BananaTag

Sometimes you just want to know if someone opened your email, without being too aggressively. If you choose to go with an email tracker, please do not use one that automatically inserts a footer note that says it was tracked with X service or delivers a read-receipt. Try to hide your stalker efforts, at least a little bit.

BananaTag has a free option, which gives you 10 free email trackings a day. Or you can pay as little as $10/ month to have 100 emails tracked a day. The other benefit of this platform is email scheduling, so you can write pitch emails in advance and schedule them out for a later date.

3. Talkwalker Alerts

Google Alerts used to be the best free go-to option for tracking clients mentioned in the news, but the service really dropped off in 2015. There are some really good options out there (like Mention) that you have to pay for, but if you’re looking for a free option that is most similar to the way Google Alerts was, try Talkwalker Alerts.

4. CoverageBook

When it comes to end of the month reporting on PR media wins, CoverageBook has it figured out. It is easy to use and builds a report for you in minutes rather than the hours it would take to manually dig for UVMs and impressions—not to mention the formatting. There is a free demo period, but after that you have to pay monthly. If you’re working with multiple clients or have a hard-to-impress executive team, the fee might be worth it.

What would you add to the list?

Katie Wolitarsky is a digital PR specialist at Workshop Digital, a full-service digital marketing company in Richmond, Virginia. A version of this article originally ran on the Workshop Digital blog.

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Topics: PR

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