Four Types of Tools That Power a Public Relations Firm

…and what we are using at Anna Stallmann Communications

By Katie Timmerman, vice president, people and operations.

Behind every successful public relations firm lies a powerful arsenal of tools that streamline operations, boost productivity, inspire beautiful designs, and enhance communication. From managing media outreach to graphic design to analyzing community engagement, the right tools can make all the difference in achieving PR goals.

In this blog post, we’ll explore five essential categories of tools that power a modern PR firm, including the following: communication and project management tools, media monitoring, community engagement and analysis tools, graphic design and social media management tools, as well as press release distribution services, and financial and people tools.

Let’s dive into the essential tools and platforms that drive the success of PR firms and how they contribute to effective public relations strategies.” We’ll also share some of the tools that the Anna Stallmann Communications team uses and that enable us to do our best work.

Communication and Project Management 

Effective communication and project management doesn’t just happen. It takes time and intention — and the right tools — to effectively execute. 

Google Suite offers a treasure trove of helpful, intuitive tools. From email and chat to calendars and forms to phone and voice tools, Google offers solutions that work well for PR firms. We also love that it’s easily accessible to a variety of audiences and collaborators – making it easy to create shared drives and folders for content curation and collaboration. Added bonus are all the mobile apps, providing access while on the go at events, reporter meetings and everywhere in between.

Asana powers our project management. We onboarded this tool with our first full-time hire, and it’s been a lifeline for collaborating seamlessly with our internal team and external creative partners while scaling the business for growth. We are currently utilizing the project management, workflows, goals, portfolios, and forms features. As a project management tool, Asana has been intuitive and practical – two things that have been important to us as we scale our work. It also allows for asynchronous work and collaboration, essential for a fully-remote and flexible team. 

We create quite a few newsletters for clients (and ourselves!), so selecting a tool to power these efforts forward was a priority for our team. In most instances, the right fit is MailChimp or Constant Contact, and those are the two email design tools that we most frequently use. These are great choices for small to mid-sized businesses who are looking for a cost effective way to send branded emails. And speaking of newsletters, if you don’t currently receive In the Margins, our quarterly ASC newsletter, you can subscribe today

Additionally, to meet AP Style requirements, we often utilize the AP Stylebook Online, a searchable, customizable, and regularly updated resource that offers affordable licenses for teams of all sizes.

Media Relations – Monitoring, Reporting, and Distribution

Keeping a pulse on the latest media mentions, opportunities and sentiments is a huge part of the work that happens in public relations. At ASC, we have a few tools that really help us in these areas.

First is Prowly, our media monitoring tool of choice. Prowly, a Semrush Company, helps to power our media relations efforts. Similar to MuckRack or Meltwater, it provides a platform to find relevant media contacts, create and send press releases, track mentions, build reports, and create online newsrooms to house company news.

Second is Pitchcraft, a community-based platform that encourages building media relationships over media lists. Our team has immersed ourselves in this platform over the last year, and we’re impressed. We find a lot of value in the information shared, connections made and relationships built.

Third is Google Alerts. This is a great option for firms with small budgets or teams, as it’s accessible and free for anyone to use. Simply set alerts for the content you’d like to be notified about, and you’ll get an email to your inbox with any mentions.

Fourth is using a Press Release Distribution Service. While press release writing and distribution can easily happen in a tool like Prowly, there are times when a client might need to utilize a paid service to broaden the reach of the release. In these instances, consider PR Newswire or Business Wire distribution. While not offering all the same features, PRWeb is a budget-friendly option. It’s not the right fit for each client or situation, but it can provide incredible value and reach for specific instances.

Graphic Design and Social Media Management

Public relations efforts can also entail quite a bit of design work. At ASC, we offer creative design and digital marketing services that require a suite of creative tools to support the creative minds on our digital and creative team.

Our team primarily uses Adobe Creative Cloud  and Canva for our design needs. Depending on the complexity of each project, client preferences and file type needs, we will utilize both of these platforms.

Social media scheduling tools also typically go hand-in-hand with designing social media posts and campaigns. At ASC, we have used both Buffer and Sprout Social. Buffer is a great free tool to test out if you’re new to social media scheduling, while Sprout Social is a powerhouse tool best suited for robust and complex scheduling needs. Sprout’s reporting feature can produce extremely granular and actionable insights. And don’t forget – you don’t actually need social media scheduling to get your posts scheduled. It’s always possible to schedule natively within the individual social media platforms themselves, but if you’re serving a large number of clients and social media accounts, a scheduling tool will streamline your platform processes, management and reporting.

Financial and Human Resources

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention a few financial and human resources tools in our toolbox, because as much as we love communication, media relations and creative design, the reality is that financial tools also play a role in moving us forward.

At ASC, we use Xero as our accounting software of choice. Xero is a cloud-based accounting software that allows us to streamline our financial reporting. We also use this platform for expense tracking and invoicing.

Gusto is our people platform. This provides us with the ability to onboard new team members and contractors, and seamlessly pay, insure, and support our team with payroll, benefits, and learning & development opportunities. We appreciate the ability it provides our firm to offer a robust benefits package to our employees, which has been an essential ingredient to the recruitment and retention of our small but mighty team.

What about you? What tools and platforms power your business? These are a few tools powering the team here at Anna Stallmann Communications. We believe that every client deserves not only a custom strategy, but a custom team that is matched to meet their unique needs – and we take the same customized approach with selecting the right tools and platforms to ensure we have the support needed to produce quality work that drives business results for our clients.

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