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DIY public relations tools anybody can use: the megalist

Posted on 14 Nov 12
By Nicholas Holmes (Twitter / Google+)

The wonderful thing about DIY public relations is that many of the simple tools you can use to help you along are totally free - it's just a question of knowing where to look.

So if you're wondering exactly what you'll need to get started doing your own public relations (or even if you're a seasoned PR pro looking for tips), we've put together this living, breathing megalist for you and we'll be updating it with feedback as we go along - so ping us  @mediagraphPR (or leave a comment) if you've got an addition!

 

1) Tools for monitoring trends, people and publications

MediaGraph, of course, lets you check the field for mentions of competitors. But you can do some things alone, so make sure you've also set up Google Alerts and Google Blog Search for comments. Mention is another great resource for checking out your brand, and Newsle helps track your contacts (handy if you're friends with competitors on LinkedIn) in the news. Twitter searches are incredibly useful too. 

For finding the right blogs to target, consider a tool such as Grouphigh which is subscription based, or blog search engine Technorati, which is free. 

You can find top journalists on Twitter using a tool such as Lissted, Presspass.me or MuckRack, but remember that you’ll need to dig deeper into specific industry publications that probably won’t be listed among the major outlets these sites feature. This one will come down to industry experience, though you might find a trip to your local library or newsagent useful for picking up the names (and editors) of the niche publications.

As well as specific competitors, you'll need to be ahead of the trends in your area, so you can ride on them when it’s the right time. Pick a selection of the blogs and the publications that you respect the most and make sure that you’ve subscribed to all of their RSS feeds. I used to use Google Reader for this (I had over 100), but since slimming down the subscriptions I’ve used Reeder, a superb client for Mac.

 

2) Tools for stalking journalists

Perhaps a bad choice of phrase, don't get creepy or anything - but with your monitoring set up, you should know who’s writing about what in your field as it's critical for DIY public relations! You'll need to keep tabs on these people as you’ll need to pitch them in the future.

Follow them on Twitter, subscribe to their personal RSS feeds and blogs on Tumblr, add them on LinkedIn if you know them. If you’re a member, check out their MediaGraph profile, or find the profile on another site such as Journalisted.

Once you’ve learned a little about them and verified that they’re right for you, add them to your Rolodex (read: favourite CRM tool) - Highrise is great for this, but there are plenty of others such as Nimble or Mingly. Look for tools that, like MediaGraph, can remind you to follow up automatically.

There are plenty of chargeable services out there which keep tabs on what journalists require and forward the requests to businesses to help out (in return for the coverage). A Twitter search for #journorequest will yield you plenty of results, but you might also try www.helpareporter.com www.responsesource.com and PressGo from journalism.co.uk are some examples.

 

3) Tools for drafting/displaying press releases

For writing, good old Word normally does the trick, though Google Docs is amazing if you need to collaborate across a team - it tracks edits in real time and allows you to leave comments that everyone can see on one single document, so you don’t have multiple drafts of one document

You’ll want to make sure your press release is available online - watch this space for an announcement from MediaGraph on this shortly, but for now there are tons of resources out there. PressDoc is an effective (if expensive) solution for hosting press releases, while PitchEngine offers a free tier which does the basics.

Sometimes a dedicated press release hosting solution is overkill though - more and more companies choose just to host with a standard Posterous or Tumblr blog.

If you need some advice to help you write the release, Shell LiveWire has a great set of tools.

PR Web also offers a free Press Release Grader, which tests copy for SEO keywords, although your primary concern should be around the quality of the story and the copy. The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer is fun, for a while.

 

4) Tools for pitching

Good old email is the way most pitches are still sent - make it short and sweet and journalists will appreciate it. Some people use Shortmail, which forces you to stick to 500 characters or less, or you could just pitch using Twitter.

Make sure you’re ready to tweet your news when it’s good to go - I like to use Bit.ly for URL and click tracking as it gives an indication of how compelling the headline/Tweet has been. BufferApp is another great way to schedule updates across multiple social networks, so you know your press release has hit all the right places at the same time. If you want beautiful announcements (and who doesn’t), check out the whizzkids at Glyder.

There are plenty of distribution tools out there which are handy for SEO purposes, but I can’t recommend them from a news generation perspective for small businesses - I just don’t think they work particularly well and they're fairly expensive for users who are trying DIY public relations for the first time.

 

5) Tools for hosting your images

Any online journalist is likely to want a selection of images, so make sure you’ve got one handy. Flickr remains far and away the best tool for hosting press images, as long as you’re specific about how they can be used. If you’re using one of the services in section 4, just append them to the press release.

 

6) Tools for hosting other multimedia

Use Youtube, Vimeo or Wistia to host any videos you may have to accompany your announcement - Wistia is pricey but allows you to set up individual ‘rooms’ of videos which can be used to effectively group multimedia per announcement.

Interview tapes can be uploaded to a site such as AudioBoo or Soundcloud.

 

7) Tools for tracking your PR success

Because of all the monitoring you set up in step one, you’ll know when you’re being mentioned, right? Nonetheless, if you want to do some manual searches after your announcement, try Google News, Pickanews from Kantar Media or Trackur.

You might want to collate all of that info in one place though, so check out clippings.me to build a portfolio of your work, or other tools such as Storify.

 

OK, over to you - what did I miss for those trying DIY public relations for themselves? Leave it in the comments, tweet @mediagraphPR or email info at themediagraph dot com!