Congratulations! Your PR agency is growing quickly and your client roster is now filled with stellar company names, or you’ve been selected to take your company’s in-house PR department to the next level. Either way, your next move has become crystal clear: it’s finally time to look into buying PR software.
Let’s take a guess about where your mind is now. You’re whole-heartedly ready to make the leap, but you’re wondering where to even start with your due diligence. Sit back and continue reading—in this handy primer, you will:
- Take a look at the main goal of buying PR software
- Review the current options you’ll come across in your software search
- Follow the step-by-step considerations that will ensure your choice is the perfect fit for you and your team
Ready? Let’s start from the beginning.
Why should you buy PR software?
The old adage “time is money” applies to business more than ever, especially PR, where valuable deliverables are expected in a field where results are anything but guaranteed.
It takes time and focused effort to create targeted media lists, build relationships with everyone on that list, craft eye-catching brand pitches that will convert to coverage, and follow through consistently until your brand celebrates a coveted feature.
Buying PR software should then set a clear goal to save you and your team time. If it’s doing its job, it will help you manage daily PR tasks in the most efficient way possible. The increased time on your plate will equal increased daily output and, in turn, high-value media coverage that has your clients or company raving about you and your team.
As the owner of a boutique PR agency, it is paramount that I’m able to offer my clients the same level of service, tools, and resources as larger, big-name agencies. For me, this means investing in PR tools that enable me to do my job more efficiently. Any tool that enables PR professionals to get really granular in their search for media contacts, is well worth the investment. – T-Aira Jelks, Founder @ HYPH PR
PR software: an overview of the options
It’s a great time to be a PR professional, with technologies emerging that are designed to make your job easier. As you begin your search, it’s best to first become familiar with the different types of PR tools that will cross your path.
Here are the most common tools you’ll find today:
- All-in-one PR tools that cover the entire PR process, from media list creation to branded newsrooms and media monitoring
- Media relations tools that help you create targeted media lists and track correspondence
- Media monitoring tools that track where your brands are being mentioned
- Media list building tools that create ready-made media lists catered to your brand needs
- PR outreach tools that track your email pitch campaigns and may offer valuable analytics on open and click rates
- Press release distribution software that sends news to subscribers via a newswire service
- PR reporting tools that allow you to create reports around specific campaigns for your brand
- Media coverage tools that connect you with journalists inquiring about expert quotes and information for a specific news story they’re writing
- Online newsroom software that hosts branded newsrooms with your brand’s latest press releases, photos, and other digital assets
How to choose the right PR Software for you, then?
It may feel a little daunting to decide on new business software that will evolve your entire team’s work processes. Here’s a step-by-step list to walk you through all the important considerations.
Keep in mind that live demos or trial versions are available for most platforms, so it’s easier than ever to give them a try before making a big commitment.
1. Talk to your team
Buying a business software is an investment, not only of money but of team buy-in. PR Daily recently reported that one of the top communications trends for 2021 will be bringing your team into key company decisions like this:
Top-down decision-making is dead. Those affected by strategies and policies—big and small—need to have a voice. Leaders are required to get constructive feedback from myriad stakeholders.
So, start by asking your team questions like:
- Where are we spinning our wheels these days?
- Which tasks are taking longer than feel necessary?
- Which tasks should be replaced so that we can put our energy into more important work like creative messaging?
If any of your team is remote, you may also need to determine some must-haves about the PR software, like needing a web-based one that’s easy for team members to access from home.
2. Determine if you need a media database
This is a big one. If you’re expanding your clientele to include new and upcoming industries, you already know you need to get your hands on the right media lists.
Some PR software focuses on managing your contacts once you’ve uploaded them from your agency’s spreadsheets, starting instead at the online newsroom creation step of the PR process. Other PR software provides a robust media database for you to start every campaign from scratch.
If a media database is included, evaluate your flexibility to search and organize the contacts. The best PR software offers the ability for you to search and narrow down media based on location, industry, and media type (i.e. magazine, online media, TV, etc.) and create segmented lists based on your current campaign.
My go-to PR tools are online media databases and journalist source request platforms. It can be difficult to keep track of current journalists or media professionals’ contact information so online media databases like Prowly or Cision help connect with the right person for the right article on your clients’ behalf. Using these helpful PR tools is key to advancing in the industry and making the most of every opportunity. – Brandi Sims, Founder & CEO @ Brandinc PR
3. Look for software with flexible online newsroom capabilities
Your PR newsroom needs to not only be dynamic and user-friendly but carry the same look and feel like the brand it represents.
Sending your journalist to this newsroom should excite you. As you demo and try PR software, imagine yourself in their shoes. You want to send journalists to a visually appealing newsroom that’s a breeze to navigate. They should be able to view and download logos, photos, and spokesperson quotes easily.
This frictionless access to your brand news will undoubtedly increase your chance of coverage.
4. Evaluate the pitch distribution process
Once you have that beautiful newsroom built, how does the PR software help you share it with your media list?
You’ll want the ability to create an email pitch with embedded or linked press releases, and brand assets like photos and one-pagers. You should also look for the flexibility to personalize emails sent to a media list.
You also need to consider what the pitch looks like from the journalist’s point of view. On the journalist’s side, your pitch should include visuals, easy links for learning more, and an on-brand look and feel.
5. Look for dynamic analytics capabilities
Long are the days when your email pitch disappeared into the ether, without any knowledge of the results on the other side. The best PR software provides the email analytics you’ve always dreamed of. Imagine seeing the open rates and click rates for your email pitches, with the easy ability to follow up with the media who engaged with your first email.
Detailed data also allow you to compare analytics across your email campaigns to determine the subject headings that best performed so you can optimize your future pitches.
Clients want to know how much each PR placement is worth, and they want to know that their agency didn’t arrive at that number arbitrarily in order to inflate their worth or efficacy. Having these insights, and being able to explain them well, is truly valuable for PR professionals who have analytical, or ROI-driven clients. – T-Aira Jelks, Founder @ HYPH PR
6. When possible, upgrade to software that includes CRM
A PR CRM (or PRM) is going to keep all of your media communication tracked in one place, allowing for notes to be shared across teams. This PR tool will move your team off shared spreadsheets with media notes into a handy one-stop system.
The arguments for investing in a CRM for your PR work are convincing. They should definitely be considered as part of your PR software decision.
There’s nothing like needing business software support right now and hearing crickets. Noone on your team needs to deal with the frustration of chasing down business software support.
The best way to assess the reliability of a software’s support team is to take advantage of the demos, onboarding videos, and free live video tutorials available during your trial. Also, during your trial period don’t be afraid to use the online chat support feature to ask plenty of questions and test response rates.
There is no getting around the fact that there’s always a budget to adhere to. The difference in price for PR software can be considerable. An ideal business software will allow for a free trial, make onboarding demos available to all users, and offer the ability to begin using it without a lot of setup.
You’ll also want to look for the flexibility to commit to a monthly or annual subscription plan, although the discounts offered with an annual plan often make the choice a no-brainer.
Once you’ve followed the step-by-step process above and made your final PR software decision, you and your team will be able to focus on the most important thing: brand messaging.
Buying PR software will ultimately reduce precious time lost from inefficient daily PR tasks like tracking media contacts in spreadsheets, digging around your network for client photos, and simply guessing the success of every email pitch sent.
Instead, you and your team will direct your newfound time and energy into creating creative PR campaigns that deliver impressive and consistent PR results time after time. And as we all know, that’s our favorite part of being PR professionals.
Just keep your eye on the prize and start that search for buying PR software today. Once you’re at it, you might want to give Prowly a try. Here’s why.
Cover photo by DocuSign