Once upon a time, marketing and PR led mostly separate lives. Yet over the last few years we’ve seen more and more marketing agencies add public relations services to their offerings. This isn’t exactly a mystery; by offering clients an all-in-one solution, they control more dollars and more activities and make it harder for clients to leave.
If you're a PR pro, you might not be too worried about those agencies grabbing your slice of the client pie. After all, skillful PR is a highly nuanced art. Yet marketing agencies do have one advantage at their fingertips and that’s technology.
Social media tools. Google Analytics. Marketing automation. Content management systems. Syndication engines. With so many ways to track, measure and prove value, these agencies have a powerful leg up in winning budget.
Your average-sized PR agency probably doesn’t have that kind of technological arsenal, though they most likely use a media contact database. If any, the operations tend toward a jumble of tools and platforms that don’t even speak to each other, like Excel, Google Docs and Dropbox. PR data often ends up scattered across spreadsheets and systems and is managed manually (read: tediously). Then there's the PR visibility issue. With some of your most valuable information contained to account executives’ heads, sheer chaos can hit when a staff member takes their media relationships and account history out the door with them.
So yes, it’s inevitable: it’s time for PR pros to step up and leverage automation and other tools like public relations software. But don’t worry that you’ll lose your super powers for masterful 1-on-1 engagement in the process of adopting PR tech. If anything, you’ll have more time for building relationships and making personal connections because so many tedious tasks - like PR pitching or PR measurement - will be taken care of.
And that's why we wrote a guide to getting friendly with PR technology. By reading 6 Ways To Use Technology to Grow, you'll find out how you can....
- Say goodbye to spreadsheet hell. If you had to name your biggest time-waster, I’m guessing it would be sorting through different files and spreadsheets and contact lists to find the right information. How tech can help: By using a media relationship management tool designed specifically for PR firms, you can consolidate your entire database into one system, providing your team with a single repository for client notes, data, campaign history, media contacts and more. Consider it CRM for public relations.
- Evolve out of email chaos. We’ve all been guilty of using Outlook folders as a filing system for pitches, follow-ups and media responses – and pulling our hair out when we can’t find the email we need. Luckily some tools can now integrate email into CRM-like systems. Not only can this automate pitch tracking from the first send to the final result, but it can provide you with a lifetime history for future analysis across your client base.
- Be a PR Zen master. If your team lives in fire drill mode, squeezing in your daily To Do items between last-minute requests and emergencies, you might not even believe a calmer PR lifestyle is possible. But by streamlining your workflows through automation and smoothly managing the entire lifecycle of media communication and campaigns in a centralized database, your team can step back and create thoughtful and innovative strategies.
- Take the pain out of reporting. Nothing degrades trust between the PR team and the client like poor results. Clear reporting and PR measurement is essential for proving value – but manual data consolidation and analysis tends to invite error and delays. By using technology to collect and manage data, teams can boost the quality and accuracy of their reports, pleasing clients and empowering themselves through better visibility.
- Boost campaign power. How have your campaigns performed quarter after quarter, year after year? Which strategies drove the best returns? Where and why did you fail? Creating and managing powerful integrated campaigns demands these answers – but they’re only available with a platform that can track performance. By identifying effective campaign elements and the unique interests of target media, teams can customize by outlet and better use psychographic data to create differentiated, successful campaigns.
- Eliminate turnover tailspin. When an employee quits and takes valuable client and media knowledge with them, the loss can be devastating. But when you have PR management software storing all contacts, pitches, campaigns, deadlines and results, there’s not much loss at all. Such shared knowledge keeps the team nimble when working on different accounts and minimizes any client impact during staff transitions.
There’s no point in delaying; now is the time for smart teams to look for the best PR software out there and step up their technology game. Marketing firms might have algorithmic models and tools in their pocket, but PR teams can quickly catch up by investing in the right PR tech and partnering it with their gifts for telling stories and managing relationships. Once they do, they’ll bring their A game to their accounts because they’ll be confident, energized and focused on big-picture strategies. And that’s a team any client will love.