PR has never been famous for its technical know-how. Creative, yes. Emotionally intelligent, definitely. Great at communicating, absolutely. But we’ve always been a little bit slow to cotton on to how new technologies can enhance and improve what we do.
With SEO and content marketing on the rise, digital agencies have slowly started to nibble away at what is traditionally PR territory, generating media coverage and placing articles under the guise of link-building and content strategy.
And while these agencies may not have the journalist relationships and media nous that PRs have spent years nurturing, what they do have is the technical know-how, and the tools, to show the online impact that PR can deliver.
So, while it might not come naturally to PR professionals, it’s time we caught up with the technical insights and metrics needed to compete effectively in 2019. And it isn’t as tricky as it sounds. All it requires is a change of mindset, and a bit of patience to get your head around a few key digital marketing tools, to complement what you’re already amazing at anyway.
Here are a few of our favourite digital tools and what you can use them for:
BuzzSumo is a comprehensive app which will help you to keep your finger on the pulse. It’s more than just a list of what’s trending (although it will also give you the zeitgeist at a glance). It’s an amazing content research tool which enables you to search what’s piquing your audiences’ interest -quickly, efficiently, and across a huge swathe of platforms, forums, and formats. You can use it to find influencers and experts on certain topics, track and analyse the buzz around your competitors, keep tabs on your own content’s performance, and make sure that your messaging is as relevant and hard-hitting as possible. Great for generating ideas and planning campaigns, as well as measuring success afterwards.
Moz draws from the largest SEO community in the world, and its analytics can be invaluable for understanding what your target audiences are searching for and which publications you should be targeting for the highest value links. SEO can seem quite alien to many PRs, but Moz will help to demystify the discipline and give you plenty of ammunition to take to clients to back up your campaigns. And if you need to create keyword optimised content, it can help with that too. It’s all too easy for ‘optimised’ content to come out clunky and off-mark if you don’t know what you’re doing. Moz will help you to produce SEO-polished content which both reads smoothly and drives clicks.
Google keyword planner
Google keyword planner is similar to Moz, but with the advantage that it’s free. While it doesn’t have all of Moz’s bells and whistles, it’s a perfect alternative if you’re already familiar with the world of SEO. It’s a tool which can be found in Adwords, and you can use it to analyse lists of keywords, and see how frequently they are searched for. Be warned – it is tailored to Adwords’ format, so traffic analysis and forecasts are based on the parameters you would set for an Adwords campaign. However, it will still give you a good snapshot of where your audiences’ heads are at.
Google trends is a great place to turn when brainstorming ideas, planning campaigns and hopping onto topical issues. It presents and analyses Google searches in a wealth of different ways, so you can see the relative popularity of different search terms over time. You can view trending searches at a glance and also search for specific search terms by country, time period and type of search. Information is presented clearly and succinctly, and it’s surprisingly easy to use. Highly recommended for both keeping up with the zeitgeist and monitoring your own campaign performances.
Influencer marketing is an increasingly important part of the PR mix and, if you’re looking to leverage its power for reaching your audiences, you could do a lot worse than turn to Traackr. It’s been around since the very early days of influencer marketing and has proven brilliant at both utilising its experience and moving with the times. Specialising in influencer relationship management, the software provides a ton of great campaign management tools, enabling you to find the best influencers for your campaigns, track ROI and optimise campaigns, all in one place.
Hootsuite describes itself as a one-stop-shop for social media campaign management. It’s got a neat dashboard which enables you to track and cross-reference several campaigns (and campaign factors – e.g. hashtags, brand recognition etc.) at once. Hootsuite really comes into its own, however, when you come to evaluate campaign performance. Monitoring and evaluation are arguably the most important parts of a campaign – they show your value and how to learn from and build upon our past work. Hootsuite makes it easy to see at a glance just how your campaigns have performed on social media, based on a whole host of different factors.
Of course, this is just a snapshot of some of the best tools for boosting the digital chops of your PR. But there are tonnes more to experiment with, and new ones popping up all the time. So why not start playing around with a few and see how you can incorporate them into your next pitch or review with a client. It could be just the boost that your freelance career is looking for.