Free tools that will make your life as a digital PR a hell of a lot easier
One of the best things about being a digital PR strategist is that no two days are the same. Wednesday you can be hosting creative brainstorms and putting together proposals for new campaign concepts, and Thursday you might be on the phone to journalists, supporting the sell-in of a new campaign.
To see a campaign right through to becoming a success you need a strong set of PR tools at hand. From briefing and concept creation to seeding and reporting, the right tool for the job can save time, effort, and generally help you do a much better job.
We’re incredibly lucky at Branded3 to have a wide variety of tools and subscriptions available to us. But, even if that wasn’t the case, there are so many brilliant, free tools, extensions and sites out there that make it easier for you to have a successful job.
Trello – A really simple and easy-to-use planner for your projects and tasks that lets you work them through a system. Some of us use different boards for different clients and work tasks through a system like a ‘work in progress’. You can also share your boards with others, which is particularly useful when keeping team members in the loop.
Google Calendar – A vital resource for any PR. We use different colour-coded calendars to filter important dates, events, or forward features that are relevant to our clients and their industries. Incredibly useful when planning content and preparing for reactive PR around events, such as political announcements and data releases.
Data can be used to inform, create, or simply add context to a campaign. But this doesn’t mean investing thousands of pounds into surveys or market research. There’s a wealth of knowledge and data available absolutely free.
Google Trends – Allows you to analyse search trends for certain topics and keywords over time, with related queries and geographical spread. As well as using this to reinforce a concept and the search interest, it can also inspire, inform, and build a concept very easily.
Answer the Public – We love this tool! It basically provides you with all the different ‘who, what, why’ questions that users search for around a specific keyword. We often use this to research for creative brainstorms and to understand some of the queries and conversations surrounding certain topics.
Grammarly – If spelling and grammar are not your strong suit (and you don’t have access to an editorial team), using extensions such as Grammarly can be really useful for quick checks as you go along.
Foter and Unsplash – We mostly use images from a subscribed database but both these are great for sourcing free images if you don’t have that luxury. Compressor.io is also really useful for decreasing the file size without compromising the quality of the image.
Venngage – A free tool to create your own infographics (features are restricted on the free subscription but there’s still loads to go at). This isn’t something we use often as our design work is done by our in-house team, but this can be really useful if you don’t have this resource available or feel your pitch to a journalist could be portrayed more effectively as a visual.
Hunter – Have you ever spent half an hour getting lost on a blog or website scouring for an email address? We’re about to save you a hell of a lot of time: Hunter searches through a site and presents you with a list of email addresses found. You are welcome!
TweetDeck – Twitter is obviously one of the best tools a PR can use. The uses are endless and we use it for anything from finding conversations, audiences and content, amplifying campaigns, and profiles, or putting together lists of influencers and finding journalists’ email addresses.
TweetDeck is perfect for monitoring all of these as well as your own notifications, users, or hashtags in one concise dashboard, as well as scheduling tweets across multiple accounts.
The telephone – Still the most useful PR tool! But use it wisely, no journalist has time for a five minute chat about the weather and a load of waffling through your idea. Be concise and get to the point. Build a relationship with key influencers and ask them about the best days and times to contact them.
Tracking and Analysis
Google Alerts – We use a number of different alerts as some can slip through the net. But Google Alerts is a really simple way of tracking client mentions or even keeping an eye on certain topics of conversation or competitors.
You can choose to have these as they happen (probably best for client mentions) or as a daily round-up (better for competitor and conversation tracking). And don’t underestimate a simple Google search for keeping tabs on client and campaign coverage!
Google Analytics – Our go-to for analysing and measuring our PR efforts. We put together post-campaign reports for all of our clients using GA. It easily shows the KPIs we set out at the start of the campaign and how we achieved them. Covering everything from referring sites to traffic, time on page and assisted conversions, it allows us to really measure and portray the impact of campaign engagement.
Social analytics – We use the Buzzsumo extension for this (paid subscription but you can get limited data with the free version) but SharedCount is also a quick tool for reporting on URL shares, likes and more.
Awesome screenshot – Quickly get screen grabs any part of a webpage you desire that you can then easily annotate and edit.
Google Docs – Really useful for team/client collaboration. You can use Sheets to create, track and collaborate on media lists, work in progress documents, or idea creation.
Keywords Everywhere – Automatically see search volume and CPC appear against keywords in all kinds of places: Google Analytics, Search Console, UberSuggest, Soovle and more.
Redirect Path – A simple HTTP header and redirect checker.
There’s so many variations of these tools, sites and extensions out there and you may already have subscriptions that do some of these for you. But our advice would be to have a little play around, try new ones, delete useless ones and work out the best set to suit your tasks and make your day to day a little easier.