32 handy tools for PR pros

From making connections with reporters to creating your own content, these tools can help marketers and PR practitioners with much of what they do.

Maybe you work for a mid-sized company thinking about bringing marketing and public relations in-house. Maybe you’re the CEO of a bootstrapped startup looking for tips on getting your first big news hit. Maybe you’re just new to the field.

Whatever the case, you should know that marketing and PR take more than basic outreach. They involve having your finger on the news pulse, knowing the latest trends and determining where your company fits into it all. It means building relationships with reporters who know your brand and trust you to deliver click-worthy headlines. It’s about monitoring the resulting buzz and generating even more shares among your audience.

To point you in the right direction, take a look at this list of all the tools we use daily to build and maintain a great presence.

Sourcing

The first step to going viral is learning what’s hot. The tools below give you the first glance at breaking news.

Newsjacking

Looking for a way to jump on the latest trend? These tools can help.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts are the best free thing to happen to your marketing and PR strategy. Use it to keep track of the outlets that feature your company, as well as your competitors’ news and the latest industry trends.

Feedly

A daily influx of Google Alerts can overwhelm your inbox. Organize your emails (and your life) with Feedly.

Interviews

Often, reporters have specific topics in mind for their next article. These tools enable them to contact experts they haven’t yet met.

Help a Reporter Out

With Google Alerts, you know what has just been published. With Help a Reporter Out (HARO), you get an insider look at what reporters are vying to know. Sign up and gain access to three daily emails full of requests from journalists seeking interviewees.

YEC

In a similar vein, YEC enables you to answer individual questions, or write and submit guests posts to be featured in various publications.

Media Diplomat

A third option, Media Diplomat offers Q & A opportunities, with the biggest publications locked to members.

Content Creation

There are a few different types of content you may try to push out: press releases, content distribution, the aforementioned newsjacking and more. These tools make generating content a cinch.

Copy

SelfControl

When you need hardcore self-control, it helps to have a timer. SelfControl gives you a set amount of time to work on one activity, and blocks designated websites so you can’t get distracted by social updates, chats with friends, etc.

While there are a zillion options for online timers, this one really takes the cake. SelfControl can’t be undone, by restarting your computer or even deleting the application. You have to wait for the timer to run out and finish your work before you can get back to surfing.

Google Drive (Documents)

I live and die by Google Drive. Each app (docs, spreadsheets, presentations, forms and drawings) automatically saves every three seconds, so you don’t have to worry about it crashing and losing all your work. Plus, every doc can easily be shared with your colleagues, allowing for real-time editing and suggestions that encourage team collaboration.

WordPress

We run the Kiip blog using WordPress. It’s easy to use and has great plugins to help with everything from comments to SEO. Our favorite function within WordPress is the calendar feature, where you can plan out your content months in advance and give your team a chance to weigh in with ideas. If you need to switch two posts, it’s a cinch: just drag and drop the titles onto new dates.

Many PR agencies publish the finalized releases onto a site like PRNewsWire.com. We prefer to drive traffic to our company blog instead.

Headlines

Google Trends

Google Trends is imperative for SEO. The tool lets you compare multiple words or phrases to determine what people are most likely to search. For instance, are people more commonly typing “mobile advertising” or “mobile marketing”? This helpful tool clears up the mystery.

Keyword Tool

Though you know how to compare words in Trends, sometimes you need some search phrases to get the ball rolling. Keyword Tool tells you what a word is most commonly paired with. For example, if you search for “mobile,” you might see “apps” or “iOS” as the top few phrases. This will help you tailor your SEO strategy even more.

Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer

There’s a common stat that marketers love to throw around: eight out of 10 readers will look at your headline and nothing else. To capture attention for the duration of your post, it helps to have a strong title, something that appeals to both emotion and intellect. To use Headline Emotional Analyzer, type in your suggested headline as well as your industry, and the tool returns what emotion the title evokes, along with a percentage.

If you work alongside a full marketing team, bounce around a few headline ideas and see what resonates. Upworthy is famous for writing 25 headlines per article. If it generates them clicks, it will work for you too.

Images

Did you know that posts with relevant images get 94 percent more views? Get cracking with these handy image creators and search tools.

Canva

Canva is an easy-to-use image creator to give your post some extra oomph. My favorite use of the tool: writing the post title on a bright background. It’s guaranteed to stand out.

Recite

Make your quotes stand out by turning them into images. This is especially handy for social channels, when you want to catch users’ eyes with a quote destined to be remembered.

Infogr.am

Infogr.am is my go-to app for creating clear and simple infographics. Give stats, graphs and more standing power of their own.

Easel.ly

If you want to create more complex, long-form infographics, check out Ease.ly. You can choose from standard templates or make your own from scratch.

Buffer Pablo

Buffer’s Pablo is relatively new, but it’s generated buzz for a reason. Much like Canva, Pablo enables you to create shareable images in minutes.

Death to the Stock Photo

If you’re looking for images you don’t have to create, get high-quality photos delivered straight to your inbox every month with Death to the Stock Photo. DTTSP’s deliveries are themed by city, activity, etc., but unlike your typical stock photo search, it’s never boring.

Unsplash

Unsplash is another great option for beautiful, high-res images. These tend to focus more on nature (not so great if you’re writing about tech) but never hurt to have on hand.

CC Search

CC Search enables you to search for creative commons photos across the web. Narrow your search by Pixabay, Google Images and more. Pro tip: If you opt for a Flickr search, try narrowing your results by “interesting” rather than the default “relevant.” This gives images other users have deemed especially picturesque, and often more likely to be a good fit for your post.

Outreach

Before we begin, if there’s one thing you take away from the outreach process, it should be the old adage from everyone’s favorite Aretha song. That’s right: respect.

Always make sure you pitch journalists who cover your beat, are courteous and provide them with straightforward, easy-to-read information. Your lede should be evident and hook them in right away.

Outreach is about relationship building, not the “spray and pray” method where you pitch 100 journalists and hope one bites. Make sure you only contact reporters who can benefit from publishing your story. When they reply, be available to assist with any follow-up requests for quotes, visuals or questions in a timely and knowledgeable manner.

External

External outreach involves contacting outside publications, from journalists to marketers who handle content syndication.

Cision

Cision makes it a snap to track down journalists who write about your inudstry. Be careful though: even after you compile your list with this software, the results still take some manual parsing. Until you get familiar with each journalist covering your field, it can take some time.

Cision is especially useful when searching for reporters outside your usual domain and who may be completely unfamiliar. For instance, if you’re pitching a partnership announcement with someone in the financial sphere, but the organization you work for is in tech.

Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo enables you to compare how many shares your links—and your competitors’ links—garner across social media. See how you stack up and where you should focus your next efforts. Does LinkedIn produce more shares than Twitter? Find out here.

Connectifier

The next few tools are fantastic for sourcing email addresses. To start with Connectifier, visit a potential source’s social media handles. Connectifier then scours their profiles to find a recent address.

Sell Hack

Sell Hack is another favorite. Type in the full name and the company of your contact, then wait a couple glorious seconds. Sell Hack almost always returns with a valid address.

Thrust.io

The good news: Thrust.io is free. The bad news: I wouldn’t be surprised if this well-kept secret becomes a paid tool soon. Thrust.io has the same concept as Sell Hack. You only need two pieces of information to find an address. It currently yields less results than Sell Hack, but it improves by the day.

Rapportive

If none of the above work, head to Rapportive. Rapportive works inside your email as a guesstimation tactic. Type the address where you think the journalist can be found, then hover over the text with your mouse. If it’s the correct address, Rapportive will show a social media profile. If Rapportive is blank, take another shot.

Internal

Use these tools to connect with your audience in-house. You can still spread your news, but do so with by controlling your brand message and knowing who has viewed and shared the content.

MailChimp

Even if you get featured in a huge publication, your clients/partners/audience still may not be aware. Inform them with a regular company newsletter that details your latest announcements. Having used MailChimp at multiple companies now, I can confirm its user-friendly properties.

Buffer

Buffer helps you schedule posts on all your social media handles, then tracks valuable analytics such as views, clicks and favorites. It also has a great blog with a daily newsletter full of helpful tips.

Tracking

The tools below are essential to my everyday tasks. Without them, I’d be lost.

Sidekick

This tool informs you if and when someone has seen your message. Use that data for good, rather than evil, by sending a polite follow-up if you think your original email fell through the cracks.

Boomerang

There are optimal times to send emails—times of the day when someone’s inbox is most likely empty or even when it’s flooded—but you can still manage to snag a spot at the top.

In this regard, Boomerang does two handy things: It returns your email if no one has responded and schedules your email for a specific time, which is highly useful when contacting folks in another time zone.

Analysis

You pitched wisely and followed all the rules. Now you must determine the results of all that hard work.

Zapier

With Zapier, discover which users share your links, when and how often. It’s great for reaching out to thank social users, and establishing new relationships so they keep acting as brand evangelists.

Google Drive (Spreadsheets)

Organize all your outreach efforts in one easy place. Create spreadsheets so you can log your ever-growing pitch list, figure out who has opened or responded to your emails or track your published press.

Compete

When trying to determine which publications on which you should focus fielding interviews and guest posts, Compete tells you how many monthly unique visitors sites land. When trying to determine to what blogs you should donate your time (for syndication or otherwise), Compete shows you which one will land you more readers.

There you have it: our PR process from start to finish.

We’re always on the lookout for new tools or brag-worthy competitors. Let us know your favorites in the comments below.

Brittany Fleit is marketing lead at Kiip, a mobile rewards platform. A version of this article appeared on the Kiip blog.

Topics: PR

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