PR automation vs PR tasks
 · 10 min read · December 13, 2023

PR Automation vs PR Tasks: How Much Time and Effort Can You Save?

Gina Nowicki

You’re a PR professional, so you know the morning drill. You pour that second cup of coffee, fire up that laptop, and are ready to make some PR magic happen. It’s a great day: you’ve got exciting client news to share with the media!

However, despite your super-charged enthusiasm and caffeinated high, there’s just about a dozen time-killing PR tasks standing in your way. No worries, you’re not the only one. 

Let’s take a look at the major ones plaguing PR pros these days, and then talk about how to make your day significantly more productive with PR automation.

Those time-consuming but essential PR tasks...

Kas Szatylowicz, a Content & PR Manager at V7, sums up the daily workload of a PR professional best:

In my day-to-day work, I tend to divide my time and attention between performing repetitive, ongoing tasks and taking care of the creative process that requires more focus. Researching opportunities for a mention or sourcing emails belong to the first category while crafting engaging emails and follow-ups fall within the second one.

Sound familiar? You’re tasked with keeping two important wheels turning: big picture creative thinking and ongoing, consistent media outreach. Both need to be done, and both are critical to serving your client at the high standards you strive for. Time management is essential to getting it all done right.

Marie Rachelle, a PR & Marketing Consultant and founder of Business BEactive points out that on any given day a PR pro could be working with multiple platforms at once like: HARO, Facebook groups, Instagram, LinkedIn, Slack, Trello, Google Workspace, and press newswire services. That’s a lot of open tabs in your browser! 

If you have a growing feeling that streamlining these tools will free up the time you need to grow your PR business or deliver better results to your existing clients, you may be ready to introduce PR software to your daily work.

Remember: time freed up from repetitive daily PR tasks can be used towards bigger picture tasks like campaign strategy and news angle development, the type of tasks that really showcase your value to a brand.

With that in mind, let’s consider how much time you could potentially save with a one-stop business software solution that serves your needs through PR automation. Of course, all professionals work at different paces based on their expertise, but the time estimates below reflect averages from a sample of PR professionals we heard from. 

PR Automation - Infographic by Prowly
Source: Pinterest

PR task no.1: Consistently following client industry news 

5 hours a week without PR automation versus 1 hour a week with it

To help your customers be successful, it's important you stay connected to the daily news circulating in the industry. I dedicate up to five hours per week (once in the morning and once in the evening) to read stories and take notes to share with customers. - Corrie Fisher, PR Account Executive @ KNB Communications

The best PR professionals spend hours every week homing in on the media that’s writing about their client’s industry and competitors. This is one of the most important public relations duties you face daily. 

While this usually showcases your killer Google Search skills, there’s an easier way. Some PR tools offer media monitoring and allow you to search industry, competitor, and product keywords, as well as find media contacts who’ve specifically covered those topics.

Media Monitoring - Prowly PR Software
Prowly's Media Monitoring

Task no.2: Creating media lists

10 hours of work without PR automation versus 1 hour with it

Drafting statements, toying with press release headlines, and speaking with clients should be secondary to research, in my opinion. The research includes hunting down reporters that actually want to write about what your clients want to talk about. Earned media is so much more powerful than paid media, and research makes this possible and worthwhile. - Jonathan Lockwood, Head of Public Relations @ LookinLA

Sure, you could use the internet and social media to search, identify and record media contacts into Excel, but this PR task actually takes hours.

Consider this: the best PR software comes with a large, multi-industry media database. As an example, Prowly PR software offers a database of over 1 million media contacts.

With mere clicks, you can search and sort contacts based on location, topic, outlet, and job role, and add in your existing media lists for a complete PR CRM solution. 

Need to segment lists under headings like media type, past coverage, or industries? Not a problem; PR software like Prowly allows you to use flexible custom tags as needed.

PR task no.3: Building an online newsroom

2 days of work without PR automation versus 2 hours with it

Building a user-friendly online newsroom with press releases, client photos & social media links is a big job. This task alone serves as a prime example of what automation can give to PR.

Online newsroom software can help you quickly build an online mobile-responsive newsroom with visually exciting press releases and photo attachments at the ready.

You could also easily integrate the brand’s social media channels instead of sharing a clunky list of links, and connect your brand’s video channels from Vimeo or YouTube. Finally, customize the newsroom with tabs and branding elements, and take full advantage of the SEO features software services can provide.

Think you need to bring your office IT tech into this online newsroom process? Think again. The best PR software will make this process intuitive and easy.

Online newsrooms created with Prowly
Online newsrooms created with Prowly PR software

The best PR software solutions also provide automatic smart suggestions for subject headings and email text to increase the chances your email lands in media inboxes, not SPAM folders.

Task no.4: Pitching press with personalized emails

4-5 hours of work without PR automation versus 45 minutes with it

A common best practice in PR is to provide editors with a tailor-made email pitch. The reasoning is simple: this significantly increases the odds they’ll read it and give it full consideration. While this is one of the most time-consuming PR tasks, it is also one of the most important public relations duties you manage.

Instead of individually personalizing every single email, imagine writing one email template with special fields that personalize the email. When you’re ready to send it, select from your custom email lists and exclude contacts based on tags. This allows you to narrow your pitch message for a select audience, based on their location and type of media outlet, like a podcast or TV.

The best PR software solutions also provide automatic smart suggestions for subject headings and email text to increase the chances your email lands in media inboxes, not SPAM folders.

Task no.5: Keeping your team updated

30 minutes a day without PR automation versus no time at all with it

If you’re sharing client work with a team, you may be using project management tools or shared spreadsheets to keep others updated about where you’ve left off on the account’s tasks. 

However, a PR software tool will allow multiple users to access a client’s account in one place. With just a glance, teammates can share media lists, review who was contacted last and with what news, and see how pitches have performed in the past.

Use status features like Draft, Scheduled, and Published for all your press releases and campaigns to get team feedback and share progress.

Task no.6: Tracking responses and success of email pitches + sending follow ups

Over 3 hours of work without PR automation versus 10 minutes with it

With PR tools like Prowly, you can measure campaign performance and journalist engagement within the same software you built your media lists, online newsroom, and email pitches. You get quick access to email open and click-through rates, and you’ll know exactly how to ensure your next email campaign performs even better.

What’s more - you can create automated follow ups (with personalization) to save even more time on manual searches and writing multiple emails - so you can be sure you won’t forget to keep the conversation going.

No more cutting and pasting metrics from your email program into reports or spreadsheets! Even better, these email analytics come with the ability to follow up with contacts based on their engagement, like opens and click-throughs.

Prowly PR Software - Follow up
Following up with Prowly

Task no.7: Creating tailored reports

4 hours of work without PR automation versus up to 1 hour with it

Is the day when all of your client PR campaign reports come due your least favorite day of the month? No wonder - creating a weekly report can take about 2 hours, and a monthly report up to 4 hours depending on the level of personalization and thoroughness of information.

A proper PR tool can do most of the research for you, so you don’t have to spend hours looking for top publications, taking screenshots, and copy-pasting them to the presentation. With Prowly, you can even add previous reports and show comparisons month to month, week to week, etc.

What’s more - PR software like Prowly lets you cut out the need to switch between multiple tabs and will automate the data visualization process.

The system automatically pulls in online clippings with visuals after you cut and paste coverage links. You can generate stats, charts and timelines with the tool and personalize your reports to your (and your clients’) needs. Add your own tags in PR Reports to quickly categorize the most important mentions.

P.S. Here's the Practical Guide to PR Clippings for your PR agency if you'd like to delve a bit deeper into the topic.

Since the best solutions are web-based, set-up is as easy as creating an account, and instead of a huge upfront investment, monthly subscription models make billing super simple. Plus, saving time is saving money for a busy PR pro like you.

The bottom line: PR automation gives you time to focus on your PR priorities

Over the last few years, it’s become clear how much value automation can give to PR pros. Just consider the potential daily, weekly, and monthly time savings alone.  

And while buying PR software may sound like an expensive undertaking, it’s actually more affordable than ever, whether you’re a freelancer, in-house PR pro, or agency owner. 

Since the best solutions are web-based, set-up is as easy as creating an account, and instead of a huge upfront investment, monthly subscription models make billing super simple. Plus, saving time is saving money for a busy PR pro like you.

One popular solution is Prowly, which offers pretty much all benefits mentioned, with the backing of a Customer Sucess team to get you up and running quickly. Your team’s daily workload will benefit from this PR automation, and you’ll have the time you need to focus on your key branding messages and client relationships. And that's not everything.

Cover photo by Jon Tyson