What is PR? Public relations is known as the practice of leveraging different media channels in order to promote and maintain a brand’s public perception. For this reason, there are many tools that can make a public relations strategy far more organized, effective and efficient in the long run. Leveraging the right PR tool can make or break the success of your media outreach. Below are three must have tools for any PR professional looking to advance their skills and bolster their media strategy.
Research & Media Monitoring
Coverage monitoring allows PR professionals to gather news that is relevant to both their clients and industry focus in order to stay up to speed. Since the media is always in constant development, people might be talking about your client or brand without directly mentioning it. As traditional PR continues to shift towards digital coverage as opposed to print, it’s critical to proactively leverage the most up to date sources when tracking the media online. Good research skills, however, can help PR pros find and leverage these media opportunities with a given media outlet.
Media monitoring is considered the process of searching for content with specific keywords and talking points that are relevant to your client and/or industry. Whether it’s tracking competitors, breaking industry news or a client’s personal brand name, media tracking is a great tool that can be used to strengthen your communications efforts. By staying on top of developing trends and consumer sentiment online and on social media, this is also an effective way to get acquainted with what messaging resonates best with customers in order to make more informed decisions down the line.
Get your PR basics down. If you’re not regularly leveraging a media monitoring tool, it’s very easy to miss an ample opportunity to manage your client’s brand awareness. Luckily, there are many free online PR tools to help make this process more streamlined in order to track conversations online. Starting with Google Alerts, this is a very easy-to-use, free tool that allows you to manually set up email alerts for any keyword mentions of your choosing. While your email inbox will see a lot more action, a Google alert is an easy way to stay on top of your brand’s or your competition’s share of voice. Additionally, Talkwalker Analytics is another free social listening and analytics tool that offers more in-depth alerts based on a wide range of both traditional and digital sources to diversify your media sources.
Media Relations Strategy
Media relations refers to using PR tools and relations with journalists and publications in order to manage how your brand is covered in the media. Since journalists and reporters typically receive dozens if not hundreds of pitches every day, it can sometimes be difficult to stand out from the crowd. Targeting a relevant journalist, however, can allow you to make your pitch personal and give you a better chance of receiving media coverage.
When attempting to get coverage from a publication or attract a response from a journalist, it’s important to keep your target audience in mind. This starts with locating the right outlets and reporter information so that your pitch content has a better chance of receiving media attention and earning that critical mention. Setting aside the time to create and proactively update a well-rounded media list, as part of your ongoing PR activities, will save you a lot of time and energy as you continue your pitching efforts.
A strong media list foundation is not possible without understanding the many different tiers of media that come into play. Dependent on your product, service or message, it’s always important to make sure you appropriately research what type of stories the publication and reporter covers before pitching. Let’s break it down from the top:
- Tier one coverage consists of publications with a high national and circulation reach, such the Wall Street Journal or the New York Times.
- Regional tier coverage typically consists of news that is best served for specific metropolitan markets.
- Trade tier coverage is focused around a particular industry focus, such as retail or hospitality for example, and is best suited for when your pitch topic is relevant to specific industry trends.
- Local tier coverage is used to target a specific region with localized news that is relevant to that market.
After deciding what reporters and publications are most relevant to your messaging, this is where creating a media list comes in to play. Considered a PR contact database, a media list is a specific document, often in the form of spreadsheet, used to keep updated reporter contacts and pitching notes all in one place. When looking for relevant reporters to add to your list, Muckrack is a great online PR tool used for accessing a journalist’s recent articles all in one place in order to gauge the type of stories they are currently focused on. Similarly, Cision is used by my PR professionals in order to access a database which includes a wide range of publication and reporter contact information.
Preparation & Organization
Juggling client needs while also forming and maintaining relationships with reporters can sometimes be overwhelming. A planned and sustained set of activities, however, can help any PR team feel more confident and prepared to take on a new media opportunity. Start with maintaining a calendar as a way to organize different media activities. This tactic is a great way of determining which audiences you need to reach, and which messages and tactics are most likely to help you achieve your goals throughout the year. Additionally, this is a great tool for planning out content on social media or pitching efforts as a way to align your PR activities.
Often subject to strict time requirements, media announcements and PR campaigns also require a lot of work behind the scenes. For this reason, being prepared to promote your client’s brand, given any media opportunity, puts PR teams in a better position for success. As such, it’s crucial to compile a living database where items like media lists, rapid response commentary and other important PR documents are stored and can be easily accessed, for example in a Google Drive folder. Ultimately, effective time management can enable any PR professional to maintain quality and consistency year-round.