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I wish I could say that college classes will teach you everything you need to know about public relations before you start your first job. While I learned the entirety of Adobe Creative Suite, unfortunately I needed a whole new set of tools when I began my first PR job.
Four agencies later, I’ve tried a plethora of monitoring services, reporting tools, databases and alerts. Skip the learning curve and get the following tools on your radar to dominate your first PR position.
Want to be a pitching machine? Check out Gorkana, Muck Rack and Cision — all services to help you search for relevant reporters. These databases each have their own advantages: Muck Rack has a heavy social search component; Cision has editorial calendars; Gorkana has daily media moves emails. However, each are instrumental in finding new media who may be interested in your pitch, getting their contact information and building new relationships.
You also need to know what reporters are covering and when they need sources. Sign up for ProfNet and Help A Reporter Out (HARO) emails. Reporters send requests for experts and products to help them meet tight deadlines for stories they are working on. I scan these a few times a day, and you can find some hidden gems for your company or clients’ inclusion.
Pro tip: Never send pitches directly through one of these services. While they have mail merge options, pitches will always land better when you research recent articles and personalize it to make sure that the reporter is a good fit. There’s also nothing worse than a reporter getting an email with an intro “Hi [First Name].” Instant delete.
Social media monitoring
You could go crazy trying to demo and research all of the monitoring tools available today. While many of the press databases like Cision are now incorporating social media listening into their packages, if you’re just looking for a straight-ahead social monitoring tool, then HootSuite is one of the easiest platforms to manage multiple accounts across multiple social channels. Not only can you monitor your own feeds/mentions/messages, but you can also create custom columns that search for hashtags, keywords and other topics to see what influencers are talking about.
Pro tip: Most social channels will give preference to content that is posted directly on their platform, versus scheduled from a third-party tool. So, while it takes less time to schedule everything via HootSuite than schedule posts, it’s worthwhile to spend a little extra time to get better placement in your fans’ feeds.
Getting stuck in the weeds of your job is so easy — tight deadlines, multiple clients pulling at you from different ends and reporters knocking on your door with requests. However, in public relations, it’s important to take time to brainstorm new ways to tell stories around your client or company. Coming up with proactive ideas for your client will get you to the next level in your career.
How do you do you that? Become a news junkie. Read articles in business, consumer, national and local publications. Watch the news in the morning. It’s a lot to stay on top of, but reacting to breaking news or noticing growing industry trends is a big part of media relations.
You can sign up for daily emails that provide a roundup of news in a specific category, and can also find news aggregation sites relevant to your profession. Since I’m in tech, I have TechMeme bookmarked, but there are similar sites for different industries.
Pro tip: Once you have a great story or trend to pitch for your client, also use it as fodder for speaking submissions for executives to build their personal brands. Try EventTrak to discover new events and awards, stay on top of submission deadlines and impress your manager and client by being in the know.