It’s hard to transition from learning about Public Relations in the classroom and taking what you learn in school to the field. This was especially true for me since at my university we strictly learned and practiced very traditional PR, none of what I practice at a digital agency every day.
For all of you confused college kids out there wondering why we’re not contacting our media contacts via the Pony Express like they taught us in school, here are the real tools and tricks you need on your tool belt to succeed in modern day PR.
This almost goes without saying, but Twitter is an easy (and free) tool I like to use as an extended researching hub. Reporters, editors, analysts, every human on the planet who wants an extra place to network in a relaxed zone, uses Twitter.
Why I use this tool? Twitter is that laid back platform that gives you insight to what a writer or editor really wants. They might not be as transparent about how to pitch them as some of the writers from Forbes or Inc.com are (a letter to pitchers like you and I). The best part? We can see what these editors, outlets and reporters have an interest in to help get that information you might acquire during a networking party, without going to a networking party! *introverted dance*.
How I use this tool: Not only can you professionally creep and find insight on professionals you want to connect with on Twitter, you can get social support from outlets on here as well. Three examples of promoting on Twitter:
- LinkedIn Pulse Tips: If you republish for your clients, please do, you can tweet at LinkedIn Pulse afterward (formatting below) and if they deem your client’s article relevant to their messaging frame, they’ll boost the post.
- Twitter Chats: There are a BILLION Twitter chats for lots of industries, including PR. This is a great place to learn from professionals in your field and interact with thought leaders in our field. Get your learns on!
- Claps for all: Let’s say you just landed an article on an outlet for your client, yay! Now you need to tweet it out using their handle and see if they promoted it on their Twitter to double-action your reach. Use hashtags relevant to the client’s field to grab the attention of viewers in their area to establish them as thought leaders. What this would look like:
A genius Google Chrome extension built for little networking bitties like us. Attach this extension to your toolbar and every time you reach out to a media contact via email, a sidebar pops up in your email platform including a photo of who you’re reaching out to, their title and duties and the option to connect with them on LinkedIn and any additional social accounts they have.
Why I use this tool? I had internal brain battles with myself starting out with relationship building because when people advise to “use social to connect with media” it really doesn’t sound effective to tweet a stranger and be like, “Haiiii…just letting you know I want to be friends.”
How I use this tool: It’s these gentle, harmless tactics like following them on LinkedIn and Twitter and favoriting/retweeting them here and there before, during and after your email outreach that really work.
Preview of Rapportive in Gmail:
Cision, The Big Kahuna
If you’re lucky enough (like me) to work for super nice people who are willing to hear your pitch for why you need paid tools to help you ace your job, Cision is the platform every PR practitioner needs. My life without it before is a life I don’t want to remember! Dramatic? You tell me.
Why I use Cision: Cision allows me access to thousands of media contacts and outlets in niche areas. With these contact lists, I can:
- View their “pitching profile” where you can leave notes of outreach efforts (so you don’t embarrass yourself)
- Refine my search down to niche fields, positions, location and outlet type
- See the most common material they talk about on social via a bubble chart
- Read specific pitching preferences
- Connect directly to their Twitter and LinkedIn
- View outlet descriptions and every media contact who works there
THERE’S MORE. I can distribute emails on behalf of my clients, schedule them, respond to HAROs, send press releases, receive detailed release reports *gasping for air* the list goes on. This tool is the base of my success to help me very deeply research my contacts to ensure I’m hitting the right target.
Read more about the Difference Between Good PR and Desperate PR
I wanted to include some free tools, but the only tools I’ve already mentioned that are free and all other free tools I’ve seen out on the web are merely supplementary and not effective enough to front-load your PR department. Or as Jeanne Locke Alford, a long time PR pro, consultant, coach and storyteller, would say,
“You mention free. Good luck. Unless you want to go “old school” and try real research, which is much easier today thanks to our friend, the Internet.”
Well put, Jeanne (@JEAlford)!
Like Jeanne, social media is our most important tool in networking, relationship building and researching with the media. Well, and also, learning not to be a creepy jerk to your contacts..@JEAlford says good luck to those who think they can ace PR without paid tools. We agree! Click To Tweet
More on working with the media: Empowering Your PR Communication Through Cognitive Science
Do you have tools and tricks you use to give your PR efforts an extra kick in the booty? Tweet me or leave a comment below! @NoelleBellLynne
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