Kick Off 2016 with the Right PR Tools in Your Back Pocket

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Michiko Morales

Let’s face it – as PR professionals, there just aren’t enough hours in the day to cross off every item on our growing to-do lists. Even when falling into a routine and thinking we have a good handle on our workloads, our jobs are never quite done. Between having a finger on the pulse of industry news and trends to helping clients build a brand that translates into glowing headlines, a day in the life of a PR person is sometimes best described as a balancing act!

The good news, though, is whether you’re new to the field or an industry veteran, there are tools and best practices available that we can all use to sharpen our skills. At our tech marketing agency, we’re always in search of new ways to work smarter, not harder. And to do our jobs better, sometimes it’s necessary for us to lean on the right tools and tactics.

Find the Right Stories

Many would argue that the most important role of any PR person is to get clients noticed. Age-old methods like building rock-solid media lists to target the right reporters will always be at the core of what we do. But thanks to some great tools, we aren’t shooting in the dark anymore hoping that we’ve sent our pitch to the right reporter and holding our breath awaiting the dreaded, “I don’t cover that beat anymore” email.

Tools like Help a Reporter Out (HARO), ProfNet and MyBlogU do just that – they provide a way for PR professionals to hear what stories reporters are working on and the types of contributions they are open to receiving. Sounds easy enough, right? These types of tools also help us think outside of the box and uncover new opportunities for client coverage. An all around win-win for everyone.

Do Your Research

Before picking up the phone or sending your pitch via email, see what a reporter has been writing about recently. Reporters appreciate pitches that stand out from the crowd and are tailored specifically to them and why they should take an interest in your client’s news. Reporters easily pick up on mass emails, and it goes without saying that unless your news is earth shattering, they won’t be amused.

In addition to checking each reporter’s website, bio and past articles, one way to determine what they write about is Twitter. If a reporter is interested in a particular topic or doing research for an upcoming article, there’s a good chance he or she will take to social media to talk about it.

Reach the Right Reporters, the Right Way

Reporters suffer from email overload, too. Don’t make their jobs more difficult by sending a super long email with five attachments. Not only will you run the risk of having your pitch sent straight to the trash folder, you might just get yourself blocked from ever having this reporter read one of your emails. Instead, format your message in a way that’s easily digestible for busy journalists. Trust me – they’ll appreciate it.

But if email isn’t an option for reaching reporters, check out Muck Rack. With this tool, you can send messages directly to reporters who don’t have a public email address. It provides PR pros the opportunity to engage with journalists in real-time and even understand how to better communicate with them.

Don’t Be Afraid to Pick Up the Phone

An oldie but a goodie! I know, we’ve all experienced it – picking up the phone and catching a reporter on a bad day. It happens.

However, you shouldn’t shy away though from calling a reporter with a pitch. Telephone pitching is becoming a lost art.

At the very least, it separates you from the masses of other PR professionals out there and can help you build a relationship with a reporter. If you’re lucky enough to get a journalist on the phone, ask if they’re on deadline or in the middle of something before jumping into your pitch. Calling at inconvenient times or not showing consideration for their time can jeopardize future working relationships.

I suggest stating that you are calling to offer that reporter a resource that aligns with what he or she has been writing about recently. Sure, it won’t always be a homerun, but your name might be top of mind next time that reporter is on deadline and in need of a resource.

Track Your Success

Gone are the days of manually clipping newspaper and magazine articles and attaching an ad value to that placement. And in this world of varied customer journeys and sales cycles, measuring success isn’t necessarily the same for one client as it is for another. So the question remains, how do we show the value of our work?

Well, for starters, it’s important to understand our clients’ goals. Whether it’s new leads, website traffic, search rankings or seeing how their media coverage stacks up against competitors, see what gets them excited. Some of the best advice any PR newbie will hear is to determine what you’re trying to measure and home in on that.

Social media has also opened up new doors for measuring success. It’s now possible to tie campaigns and their social pushes to gaining new followers, retweets, engagement, conversions, etc. In short, the possibilities are endless when it comes to tracking success. As a PR person, it falls under our umbrella of responsibility to understand what it is that we’re trying to achieve, how we’re going to go about reaching that goal and then use tools at our disposal to summarize our activities and show the value behind our efforts.

A few commonly used tools to provide metrics on your PR efforts include Cision Monitoring, TweetReach and HootSuite. Even marketing tools like HubSpot have measurement capabilities that can be used to evaluate content and social outreach.

Strengthen Your Relationships with Reporters

While there’s no foolproof method when it comes to pitching the media, there are smarter ways of positioning your client’s news to the right reporters. It’s important to remember that reporters are people, too – just like you and me. They have preferred ways of being contacted, but lucky for us (along with some trial and error), there are ways we can increase our odds of reaching out at the right time and in the right way.

Without a doubt, the world of PR has grown in leaps and bounds in recent years. As is the case with many other industries, technology has helped reshape the face of modern day public relations. As we kick-off the New Year, make a resolution to lean on resources that will help you better reach your clients’ target audiences, strengthen their brands and, ultimately, tell their stories.

From the Blog

Leah Nurik