Ever come across the saying “A good craftsman never blames his (or her) tools?”
There is a very real reason for that aphorism: a tool is only as effective as the craftsman (or woman, as it were) who uses it. If you consider the average PR practitioner, you could probably name most of the tools in his/her proverbial toolbox. Most of them are bookmarked in a folder with about four to six items that include
Vision…sorry, Cision/Vocus, a couple of necessary subscriptions to PR News, PR Week, and O’Dwyers, and the various and sundry blogs out there discussing what’s up in the industry.
However, in these days of online accessibility, one’s toolbox should be so full of useful tools that you can’t even close it. Don’t know what we mean?
Here’s a list of 20 necessary tools every PR professional should know and use.
Before you ask, the list below is this week’s version of our recurring #5Things. However, in this case we figured that we could list 5 things in 4 different categories for the benefit of all cube farm prairie dogs and office dwellers at PR agencies everywhere. Consider it the Costco or Sam’s Club version.
Enjoy bookmarking now, sharing today, and researching tomorrow.
1. Journalisted. One of the easiest tools you may have never heard of, largely because it’s based in the UK, but it is something serious for those in a researching pinch. You know about HARO, which pushes for ideas. This pulls you toward people who have written about your client on a daily basis.
2. HARO. We debated listing Help a Reporter Out because it is the Google of incoming queries for PR practitioners. HARO is ubiquitous — or so we thought — but it still can be amazing how many newcomers don’t understand how great this Vocus-owned tool is. Thanks, Peter Shankman!
3. PitchRate. This free service connects journalists with topic experts – such as small business owners – for free media coverage. PitchRate also is chock full of helpful (free) information that an average PR type can use on a daily basis. It even sponsors regular free “PR Happy Hour” conference calls.
4. MuckRack. Starting at $199 a month, this is a very nice networking tool to get to know your local reporters. Users will receive email notifications when journalists tweet or link to articles matching search terms — and how many times does the client find the hit before we share it? Outreach needs efficiency and this so helps!
5. Media Diplomat. This is part HARO, part MuckRack, all cool. It monitors their queries and your outreach. A matchmaker between journos and PR-os, of sorts. And to think this one started as a LinkedIn group and became so popular for networking that a website was born. Get in while it’s still “growing.”
6. Headline Analyzer. Thanks to the growing demands of journalism and PR, headlines are more important than ever. Want to see what kind of emotional value your headline creates? This tool helps you practice your call-to-action — and who couldn’t use that tutelage?
7. Copyscape. If you are the agency blogger or copywriter, this is your new BFF. Is somebody stealing your content? This will let you know with just a few clicks for free. It even checks to make sure your SEO article writers didn’t steal somebody else’s content.
8. AutoCrit. We get it. You want to write like Stephen King but it just doesn’t come out on paper that way. We all have writer’s block when everything reads the same, which is why this fun software will tell you when you are overusing superlatives, misusing syntax, and just writing really crappy copy.
9. Zemanta. More and more, PR is taking over the ghostwriting for blogs. Clients love it if you are good at it. Now imagine blogging with a tool that helps suggest images, links, and articles to use as resources. Cool, right? That’s this thing. (Also, a WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, and Tumblr plug-in, for those who dig that kind of thing.)
10. Wordcounter. You ever get to writing graph after graph and then get the SEO person just facepalming themselves over your lack of synonym usage? This tool will let you know what’s up and how much you love a good keyword…followed by how much your team will love you (or hate you) for it.
11. Social Mention. It’s not the most comprehensive device, but you get way more than what you want to pay (free). A generous sweep of blogs and microblogs that provides tone, resonance, video sharing, and share of voice. The numbers alone will surprise your client and make you look good.
12. Google Insights. If you are searching for trends and the best time for someone to gain interest in your product (otherwise known as when to pay for online search), this is it. Also, PR peeps, this will help you know when is the best time to pitch also.
13. Brandwatch. There are several listening tools to use, many of which are good for agencies and professionals alike. However, if you want something that is metrics on Barry Bonds-like steroids, this is the one for you. Completely dynamic and interactive for a fee. And oh so worth it.
14. Twilert. When your small business or large corporate clients aren’t certain if Twitter will work for them, you may want to yank this tool out of your junk drawer. Imagine Google Alerts only for Twitter, and ‘BOOM’ there is a Twilert in your inbox. It helps for a nice buzz without the PBR on your desk.
15. Addictomatic. This (in technology terms) is an oldie-but-a-goodie but maybe it’s time you two get re-acquainted. Do you know how your brand is represented on the many social platforms concurrently? This is your new shiny toy to figure that out.
Didn’t Know You Needed These
16. Bullshit Indicator. Yes, in demand of PR favorite’s game “Buzzword Bingo,” we have this…and it’s sublime. Want to know how that schmuck down the hall can use so many cliches in one run-on sentence? Use this.
17. MSOutlook Kit. Admit it: You spend business time Gramming, Facebooking, Twittering, or Job Hunting. It’s okay, we understand. That said, here’s a fake MS Outlook page to pull up when the ‘man’ walks in. Just pop it over and no one knows.
18. F.Lux. Okay, you strain your eyeballs all day at a white — like gazing into the sun — screen. It’s all you see and then when you drive home, those floaters show up in your vision. This download changes the glare depending on the time of day. Pretty sweet and keeps you alert.
19. The Useless Web. So, you have writer’s block, aren’t in your pitch mode, and Facebook doesn’t sound interesting. You need something to pass the time but can’t find a timekill website. Let the Internet choose it for you, and what the Web picks will have you lost for days.
20. Phone Spell. Often, it’s a PR person’s gig to dream up a fancy URL, but what if you have a start-up who needs a catchy phone number. Odds are your client will not get 555-1234, so this cutesy tool helps you spell a word. Dial a smile.