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Tools of the Trade

January 22nd, 2010

Every profession and vocation has its share of tools. A carpenter would not be productive without a hammer, saw and tape measure. Barbers would be “out to lunch” without scissors and a buzzer. Even simple projects around the house can be challenging without the right tools, and public relations is no exception.

Assuming you already have your messaging and content strategy in place, the Web and social media have spawned a plethora of tools and services (some are free) to help generate buzz, excitement and Google juice.

Below is a list of tools we use at Springboard to support marketing, public relations and social media campaigns – everything from editorial sourcing and newswire distribution to tracking and analytics.

Editorial Sourcing

  • Help A Reporter Out (aka HARO) is a free, daily editorial service that utilizes the crowdsourcing model to connect anyone (including you) to 30,000-plus reporters and bloggers seeking sources for articles they are planning.
  • ReporterConnection is a free daily email service that connects busy journalists with experts available for media interviews.
  • MyMediaInfo is a subscription-based editorial research service that provides access to media contacts from over 80,000 outlets covering print, online, TV and radio. It also includes more than 400,000 editorial calendar opportunities. Other companies offering similar services are Vocus and Cision.

Press Release Optimization & Distribution

  • BusinessWire and PR Newswire are the Coke and Pepsi of the newswire distribution business. Other options include PRWeb. Social media-specific services such as Pitch Engine and PressLift offer a platform to “socialize” your press releases.  All of these services have different pricing models and some are free. Tip: When preparing your press release for any of these services, be sure to “SEO-enable” them by embedding several keyword links to additional information about the announcement, such as product information, blog posts or video.

Social Media

  • Reporters and bloggers use social media as part of their day-to-day operations.  Twitter and Facebookprovide great opportunities to connect and engage with key influencers, and many post their editorial needs in their status updates. Following the top people in your market gets you one step closer to positioning yourself as a resource. Be sure to check out the Lists feature of Twitter to find key media, analysts, bloggers, venture capitalists, and PR and marketing resources.

Blogs & Comments – If your company does not have a blog, create one immediately. The same advice goes for “free-agent” entrepreneurs. A blog offers a powerful medium to share your perspective and expertise. You are always a Google search away from someone seeking your knowledge, product or service. Additionally, participating in online discussions is a great way to build rapport with reporters and bloggers, as they would rather you leave a comment and continue the conversation than “cold pitch” them about your innovative widget. One of the leading comment systems you should sign up for is Disqus.

Video – There is no excuse for not having video as part of your content strategy. There are so many inexpensive options to capture Web-quality video, which allow you to articulate your message beyond text. Video is also helpful for SEO.  Here are some options:

  • FlipVideo – one of the easiest video cameras on the planet.
  • YouTube is the world’s most popular online video community allowing millions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. As you build out your video content, use it as an asset management repository. Other solutions include Vimeo and Animoto, which offers tools transform images, video and music into digital slideshows.
  • Livestream makes live video broadcasting easy and cost-effective. It allows you to create live, scheduled and on-demand Web-based television programs that can broadcast anywhere.

Listening, Monitoring & Reputation Management – Having the capability to track and manage what is being said online about yourself, company, product and service will allow you to respond to opportunities and potential issues.  Tools such as Google Alerts (email notifications), Collecta (real-time search engine), and FiltrBox (real-time media monitoring) keep you in front of the buzz on the Web and in social media.

Tracking & Analytics – URL services like bit.ly provides a way to shorten, share and track links. It is a must for using Twitter, but the real power in bit.ly is the analytics.  From a Web perspective, be sure to code your site and blog to take advantage of Google Analytics which offers a broad range of tracking and analysis.

There are so many useful tools out there. Which ones do you like?

Domenick Cilea

Domenick founded Springboard in 1995. When he is not working on marketing, PR, branding or content strategy, Domenick can be found in a gym, on the road or pool training to survive his next triathlon.

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