By Jenny Finke
I remember working at a large PR agency many years ago. Some of my older PR colleagues would tell me how fax machines were revolutionary to helping them disseminate information. Then came email – and whoa! – suddenly information spread as fast as lightening.
While some would argue that disseminating information is easier than ever today, many would argue that such instant communication has made the profession of PR more challenging than ever. Information overload is hard to overcome, and everyone is passing themselves off as a “journalist” these days. Plus, newspapers are going by the wayside and Google seems to be the first place people turn for answers.
However, if you’re doing PR, there are some excellent tools available to you to help you gain control of your PR efforts and better capture the hearts and minds of your target audiences.
Let’s talk about the top 10 tools used by PR people (including myself) today to get the job done.
1. HelpAReporterOut (HARO)
This free service connects reporters looking for sources with individuals looking to be a source. It was founded by long-time PR expert, Peter Shankman, and is now owned by media conglomerate, Vocus. ProfNet is a similar service, but you’ll have to pay to subscribe.
PR Web is a news release posting site that will push your news to its extensive distribution network of major news sites and search engines. This help you not only get your story gets in front of consumers and journalists, but also helps build SEO. Other press release distribution sites include PRNewswire.com, BusinessWire.com, and a sleuth of others – some free ones too but they pepper your release with advertisements.
BlogPRWire is a PR distribution service that says it “picks up where traditional newswires and media database services fall short – by connecting marketing professionals with niche, targeted blogging communities that want to receive their news, host contests and giveaways, or review new products.” In other words, this service will blast your news releases to bloggers in need of content and story ideas.
4. Build Your Own Media List
Once you have your story, you'll need the email addresses of your target sources. But where do you get them? You can spend a small fortune purchasing media lists, but Elena from PR in Your Pajamas has some great suggestions here on how to do it for free.
Holly also has a great list of sites that interview women for free.
This PR tool invented the Social Media Release and enables users to create and share news and content in an interactive setting – going beyond traditional press release distribution services like PR Web.
The AwardSync tool enables users to search for and identify opportunities to submit themselves and their businesses for awards so someone can get buzz and gain recognition and credibility.
7. Social Media Tools
While there are many social media management websites out there, this is one I like and use a lot. It helps you find friends on Twitter with its keyword friend finder, and it enables you to send automated DMs to people, cue up tweets to go out later and more. It also allows you to manage your Facebook status updates. Anyone managing a variety of online communities should use Social Oooph or HootSuite.com or another like online community management tool.
You can use the Contact Any Celebrity database to look up the contact details for most celebrities. This will enable you to ship off your product to a celebrity in hopes they’ll wear or use it – a great way to get your company some publicity. Another celebrity tool to consider is Entreprenette.com/Instantly-Famous. This site receives requests for products by TV shows, movies and celebrities themselves and then notifies you of these requests so you can submit your product for consideration. It’s free too.
9. Email Marketing
There are a long list of companies that help you develop and automate your eNewsletter, from ConstantContact.com to aWeber.com and iContact.com. Whichever platform you use, having an eNewsletter is one the best marketing tools you will use because it continually connects you with your consumer directly and often.
10. Image Tools
These two tools go hand-in-hand. Pixability will help you create a welcome or demonstration video at a low cost. When you send your product to ViaU, they’ll take professional pictures of it and send them to you to use. Both services are low-cost and very easy to use – thus making them great tools to keep in your PR toolkit.
Doing PR in today’s information-savvy world is tough. By adding a few tools and tricks-of-the-trade to your PR toolkit, you’ll be successfully getting good publicity for your company in no time!
Jenny Finke owns Red Jeweled Media, a PR agency specializing in PR and marketing for small and mid-sized businesses. Please find her online at www.RedJeweledMedia.com.
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