12 Must-Haves for a PR Pro’s Virtual Toolbox

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With the New Year starting and CES going on in Las Vegas, it's a good time to think about whether or not technology is providing enough assistance to you as a PR pro.

(Nearly) gone are the days of using scissors to clip, FAX machines to pitch and a hard copy newspaper to determine if an article about your brand ran in print. Gone, too, are resources for designers and research assistants. Fortunately, tech tools abound and the more of them we use correctly, the better and faster we can do our jobs.

In random order, here are a few must-have tools for your virtual toolbox:

  1. For email management: Slack ­– Know a PR pro who wants more email crowding her inbox? Slack can ease your anxiety and cut down on internal emails. It's a lifesaver.
  1. To reduce email: Unroll.me – See a theme here? If you're tired of auto-enroll newsletters that clog your inbox, Unroll.me culls through email subscriptions and allows you to unsubscribe from dozens in one place.
  1. For email productivity: Boomerang – A PR pro’s secret weapon, this Chrome add-on for Gmail and Outlook tells you when a journalist opens your email pitch. It also sends messages at opportune times, delivers reminders if your email doesn't receive a response (that never happens, right?) and has a smart calendar assistant that schedules meetings, all without leaving your email. There's also an AI feature to help you write better emails.
  1. To build relationships with media: HARO – These well-known thrice-daily queries from journalists seeking help with stories can lead to you becoming a source, which can lead to better relationships with writers and ultimately a better reception for your pitches.
  1. For graphics: Canva –  For the artistically challenged, like moi, Canva is a gold mine loaded with templates for blogs, Instagram, presentations, photo collages, letterheads, infographics and invitations.
  1. For infographics: Picktochart – This tool will reduce creative spend and let you design infographics. It  also offers infographic templates.
  1. For social media: Buffer – One of the easiest-to-use social media management tools for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. It composes a post inside the Buffer web app and lets you choose accounts to distribute it to. To schedules posts you "buffer" them in a queue, hence the name.
  1. To find journalists: RocketReach –On a tight budget and need journalists' email addresses?  RocketReach often has more email addresses than some of the bigger journalism databases.
  1. For press clipping: CoverageBook – It's 2018 and some PR agencies still manually clip articles. Even high-tech firms! CoverageBook generates digital clips in seconds.
  1. For print monitoring: PressReader – Did your client's story get coverage in a print publication you don't receive? For $1 per paper, PressReader lets you scan pages and snag PDFs or screenshots to populate a clip.
  1. For Facebook advertising: Facebook Pixel Helper – 80% of Facebook marketing drives an action. To measure visitors coming from Facebook, requires a pixel on each webpage within a site. The pixel allows re-marketing to those who clicked on an item. To determine whether a website is optimized with pixels, download Chrome’s Facebook Pixel Helper, which will tell you whether a pixel is installed on that page and capturing valuable data about who is visiting your site through Facebook.
  1. For biz intel: Crunchbase – Curious when a company was founded? A startup’s website is hazy on details about the founders and what exactly the company does? Curious about funding?  Crunchbase has all that and more. In addition its daily newsletter is a fantastic source of information on mergers and acquisitions, major funding rounds and upcoming tech events.

Brooks Wallace is West Coast Lead at Hollywood Agency.