PR is one of those niches where one has to perform dozens of different tasks simultaneously. Often, these tasks have nothing in common. Often, they are complicated, time-consuming, and require more practitioners than the business can afford.
This article isn’t meant to sympathize with PR practitioners, nor is it here to discourage anyone willing to join the field. After all, PR is also a niche that’s exciting, diverse, and full of creativity. This article is here to present PR practitioners with tools that will greatly simplify their work and make it more effective.
A couple of years ago I wrote an article about cheap or free PR tools. That list is still relevant; however, I’ve added some new tools and some new information: everything that you wouldn’t be able to live without as a PR expert in 2020!
Awario is a social listening tool, which means it finds mentions of any given keyword (e.g., personal name, brand, book title) on social media networks, news sites, blogs, forums, and web sites.
It lets PR practitioners monitor press and media coverage, easily discover bloggers and journalists to work with, and connect with social media influencers who can also be very effective in growing the public awareness of your brand, product, or service.
It also lets PR practitioners keep an eye on competitors’ PR activities. If you create an alert for your competitor, you’ll be the first to know of any press releases, launches, marketing activities. You’ll also instantly find out about all bloggers, journalists, and social media influencers your competitor is working with. You’ll know which resources, partnerships, and even locations work best for them in terms of growing awareness.
Pricing: starts at $29/mo for the Starter plan. Offers a free 7-day trial.
Planning is essential for PR practitioners. It’s pretty much impossible to get things done without a proper planning tool, and Trello is a perfect one for that. It makes planning easy and even entertaining to an extent. The tool offers colorful labels that you can use to highlight outlet names, publication terms, next steps, deadlines, and other important information. As a result, you can see the whole PR plan at a glance.
Pricing: Trello offers a free plan. The business-class plan starts at $9.99/mo and the Enterprise plan starts at $17.50/mo.
A lot of PR is content planning and content creation. Coming up with new content ideas is a challenging task by itself, but this is just a part of a problem. You’ve got to make sure your content ideas are relevant and the articles will be in demand among your target audience. For this, there’s Buzzsumo.
Buzzsumo finds the most engaging content based on the topic that you’ve put in. You can filter the results based on the criteria you specify. The tool shows the most shared content online, breaks down the number of shares by social media networks, and reports the evergreen score for each. The latest Topics feature shows you a visual cloud with popular topics around your keywords.
Pricing: starts at $99/mo. Free 7-day trial is available.
HARO, which is an abbreviation for Help A Reporter Out, connects journalists seeking expertise to include in their content with sources who have that expertise. You have the expertise, they have the people ― more than 75,000 bloggers and journalists.
HARO is a subscription: once subscribed, you receive three emails every day with requests for sources in specific areas (e.g., travel, tech, cooking). If an area where your brand representatives are experts shows up, you can respond directly to the reporter making the query.
This is a great way for any PR practitioner to spread the word about the brand or the product through press coverage.
Pricing: HARO’s Basic plan is free. Paid plans start at $19/mo.
Anewstips gets you the lists of target journalists that you actually want. Isn’t that every PR practitioner’s dream? All you have to do is specify the industry, your brand, or your competitors, and Anewstip will provide you with relevant media contacts.
Their database is huge: it indexes more than 200 million news articles and 1 billion tweets from more than 1 million media contacts. After you have your media contacts, you can create your own list or use the public industry-specific lists made by others. You can also contact the journalists right there and then. The tool allows you to send highly targeted pitches to different media lists. Then, you can track the performance by monitoring opens and clicks.
Pricing: Anewstip has a free plan, which lets you create 2 media lists with up to 100 contacts each and be given access to journalists’ basic profile information. Paid plans start at $200/mo.
6. SEO SpyGlass
SEO SpyGlass is a backlink research tool. It’s powerful, affordable, and an essential part of any market research workflow. It tracks all backlinks pointing to a website ― both yours and your competitors’.
The latter is especially useful if you’re calculating what to expect of a PR campaign similar to the one your competitor has already carried out. SEO SpyGlass will show authoritative sites that have linked to your competitors’ campaign, and you’ll know what outcome to expect and which media outlets might be interested. SEO SpyGlass is integrated with Google Analytics, so you’ll also be able to monitor the results of your campaign both in terms of backlinks and in terms of traffic.
Pricing: SEO SpyGlass has a free version that lets you see up to 1,100 links per site. Paid plans start at $124.75 for Professional and offer an unlimited number of links per website.
Hunter is a neat tool that helps you find emails of your media prospects and other people important to your business. Based on many reviews by PR professionals, it works better than some of the similar tools. It’s also easy and straightforward. After you enter the domain of your target outlet, the tool shows you the email addresses of all the people working in the company that it managed to find. For some, you’ll also see job titles and phone numbers.
Pricing: Hunter has a free version. Paid plans start at $49/mo.
If your goal is to present information (which is a goal PR practitioners often have), Infogram is a tool that will definitely simplify the process. The tool has a free option and its paid plans are affordable for most businesses. And, you can create anything you want using Infogram: reports, charts, maps, graphs, and dashboards. The tool has a great selection of templates, pictures, and icons.
In most cases, this is more than enough to show your clients, bosses, and colleagues all the details of your next campaign in the most comprehensive way. It is also a great solution for quick and simple content creation.
Pricing: Infogram’s has a free Basic plan that lets you create up to 10 projects. Paid plans start at $19/mo.
Similarly, there is Canva. PR often requires great designers. But what if you don’t have any? All the selection of different types of content can be delegated to Canva. It lets you create infographics, posters, business cards, flyers, and brochures, as well as edit photos and create visuals for social media. Canva makes sure all your range of PR essentials are well-designed.
Pricing: Most Canva’s features are free forever. You can also get some cool add-on features for $9.95/mo.
For some businesses, the all-in-one (or at least the some-in-one) PR tools are the best helpers. Pitchengine is one of such tools: it combines press release publications, newsboards creation, and the organization of brand assets. Unlike most similar tools, Pitchengine is also quite affordable.
With the help of Pitchengine, press releases look stylish and include different multimedia. Newsboard becomes something like Pinterest: you just pin a news article, press release or social update right to your board. There is also a Compressor that simplifies working with docs, Ping Analytics that shortens and tracks any link, and other tiny useful tools. Definitely worth checking out!
Pricing: starts at $14.95/mo for the Basic plan, which includes press release placement only. PR Toolkit at $49/mo and Agency for 149/mo come with newsboards, assets, Tiny Pitch, and analytics.
Over to you
Ready to start exploring these PR tools? Lay out your PR workflow and consider which parts of it can be simplified with the tools described above.