Best productivity apps: PR edition
Editors' note: In March, writer Antonio Tooley published a monster post here on Muck Rack about the best productivity apps for journalists. His post was such a hit he got to researching and is back today with the best productivity apps for public relations professionals.
In this day and age, brand promotion is one of the most important and most challenging aspects of marketing, which why such a job is best left to PR professionals. But, sometimes, even a trained professional needs a little help.
You may remember our previous post about the best productivity apps for journalists. Today, we are doing a sequel of sorts, only this time, we are going to focus on the best apps which can make a PR professional's job much easier.
We've rounded up some of the most renowned experts in the field, and had them recommend their favorite apps. Here is what they came up with.
It is essential for every PR professional to be able to write down important bits of information and take notes on the go. Sometimes, using the old pen and paper is just not good enough, but fortunately, mobile devices are capable of handling just about any task you throw at them, and note-taking is a breeze with them. Apps like Evernote, or iPhone’s Notes seem to be favorites among those in the world of PR.
“My go-to app when I need to write something is iPhone's Notes. It's simple, easy to use, you can send the notes via email, text message, even via Slack. I write almost all my blog posts or those for clients on Notes. My iPhone and I are inseparable, so when I have a blog post idea, I just write it down on Notes. It syncs with my email, so I don't actually have to send it anywhere. When I am at a computer I go to the email, copy the content in a word document and I'm done.”
Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge), CEO of Pure Performance Communications, speaker, author of Social Media and Public Relations & PR 2.0, adjunct professor & co-founder of #PRStudChat uses a different tool:
“Evernote. As far as note-taking software, Evernote tops my list. I dictate a lot of my thoughts using Evernote (voice to text) for blog posts and LinkedIn publishing articles. I also use voice to text to develop the topics / questions for my interviews with Women Worldwide podcast guests. Because Evernote syncs to all of my other devices, I can review and finalize my work, which saves me an incredible amount of time in the writing process.”
“Evernote: For everything ranging from saving copies of articles to read later to note taking and blogging to keeping me organized on the go, Evernote is an indispensable tool that synchronizes across mobile, tablet and desktop.”
Social Media Apps
Keeping track of relevant social media outlets is essential for PR pros. However, they not only need to be consumers and active participants on social networks, but also the creators and driving forces behind social media trends and campaigns. Yes, they use apps like Twitter, Facebook Pages Manager, Instagram, or LinkedIn, but they also rely on advanced tools like HootSuite and Buffer to help them filter out all the noise and streamline their efforts. These are their recommendations.
“Social media is a must for PR pros, and although I like various tools, I’m quite fond of the native Twitter app. You can tweet, reply, search for information and check out current trends in a few clicks—and you can toggle between accounts easily. Just make sure you’re signed into the right account before tweeting! Instagram's app enables you to easily toggle between accounts as well, and Facebook’s Page Manager app offers an easy way to keep up with your pages.”
“LinkedIn is my go-to app when trying to get in touch with similar-minded professionals, as well as a platform through which I do some of my more targeted PR work, aimed strictly at advanced business users and professionals. And it works both ways, too, because it is a real goldmine of information and contacts.”
Deirdre Breakenridge loves:
“HootSuite. Twitter is a source of news, information, and discussions that I can monitor daily. I use the HootSuite app to filter out the Twitter 'noise.' I drill down into the topics that interest me, whether it is tracking my own PR community hashtags, the influencers driving important conversations, trending national stories, as well as client stories. HootSuite helps to manage the flow of information so I can engage quickly in valuable conversations.”
“Twitter. I've used a lot of Twitter client apps but I find Twitter's own app to be the best of the bunch. I'm very active on Twitter, so this app gets a good workout most days!”
“Buffer. Buffer is a magical tool and its app is equally enchanting. Among many useful features, it shortens links, grabs photos and auto-completes the Twitter handles of your closets contacts. If you’re reading in a mobile RSS app, I find the Buffer app works better if you open the link in a Safari browser.
Facebook Pages. Any PR pro that finds him or herself the administrator of a brand’s Facebook page needs this app. It allows you to monitor the page, interact with users as a brand and of course keep tabs on your social advertising spend. Yes, ad spend. PR pros ought to think about social ad spend. Paid media for earned media objectives is tried and true tactic that’s existed for decades.”
“Buffer: Implementing a 'best answer' strategy means curating useful content as well as sharing your own. Buffer makes this easy, efficient and effective on my mobile and on the go.
LinkedIn: There is no better network for business professionals than LinkedIn. The LinkedIn mobile app opens the door to that value when you're on the go. Whether I need last minute contact details for someone I am meeting, want a list of all my relevant connections in a new city or want to catch up on industry news, it's all there. Disclosure: LinkedIn is a client of my agency, TopRank Marketing.
Instagram: A picture is worth 1000 words and Instagram makes sharing creative pictures (and video) easy. Instagram is more of a personal favorite, but I also find that it keeps me connected to other marketing and public relations professionals on a personal level.”
“Hootsuite: This is a great app to help manage your agency's social networks. I use it for our Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn accounts when I'm on the go, at a networking event or conference. You can schedule posts in advance and most importantly, while you're at a conference or event it allows you to keep an eye on specific accounts and hashtags that are relevant so you can engage with others at the conference in real-time.”
“LinkedIn App – I do a lot of personal branding for executives, so I like to keep up-to-date with who is saying what on LinkedIn as more companies start seeing its power for personal PR.”
Twitter – might be obvious but it’s a great way to understand what clients’ competition are up to and see what journalists and influencers are thinking in the moment.”
“Quora: Answering questions on this giant Q&A site is a powerful way for experts and thought leaders to get in front of people who need their help, or get answers to their own questions. Readers vote your answers up or down. You'll even find dozens of questions about how to use Quora for Android and Quora for iOS.”
Another important aspect of being a great PR pro is the ability to keep track of all the latest news and trends. Of course, most PR experts don’t have time to sit down and read through the news all day, so they use apps which provide them with everything they need to know wherever they are. A whole bunch of them use Feedly, while others rely on less popular apps which still do the job equally well. Let’s see which apps these PR professionals use in order to stay informed about everything that’s going on in the world every day.
Beki Winchell says:
“I love Feedly to catch up on RSS feeds and Alien Blue to read Reddit. Both apps give me a highlight of news and trends and enable me to save articles for later or share them on social media (Feedly also hooks up to Hootsuite, for post scheduling). PR pros must know what’s going in the world, but it’s hard to constantly monitor news networks and online platforms. These apps compile the updates for you.”
Deirdre Breakenridge says:
“Newsbeat. I can listen to the Newsbeat app on my smartphone when I'm driving, walking on the treadmill, in between appointments and just about anywhere I go. Newsbeat also lets me customize my daily news. I can build my own news experience, selecting the topics related to my work with updates throughout the day.”
Frank Strong says:
“Feedly. Word on the street is RSS readers went out of fashion with social media. However for the organized PR pros, a carefully tended list of daily reading is essential and there’s no better place to manage that list than in an RSS reader. Feedly is so easy on a mobile device.”
Joan Stewart says:
“The AP App: Smart PR pros look for every opportunity to newsjack. This app gives you a quick look at the day's top global and local news stories. Want a super-quick summary? Check out "10 Things to Know for Today." The app provides news in English and Spanish, and you can customize your news feed to see your favorite categories. If you don't see news from your local newspaper or broadcaster, tell them you'd like to see them on AP mobile.”
Kristen Tischhauser says:
“Breaking News: As a publicist it's important to stay in the know when it comes to breaking news, so this app is a must-have. You can choose the topics that are of interest to you and you'll receive notifications. Once you choose your topic, the app will let you know how many alerts you will receive on average. You can go in and "mute" topics if it becomes too much.”
Thanks to powerful devices and high-speed internet connections, people are consuming all types of content, including articles, posts, images, GIFs, video, podcasts and infographics. In order to stay in touch with all the current developments and trends in multimedia, PR professionals need to diversify and use several different platforms if they want to maximize their efficiency and reach as many customers as they can. Also, they need to experiment with new platforms. Here is what they currently use.
Trevor Young recommends:
“MeVee: MeVee is a video live-streaming app; it's pretty new and doesn't have the profile of, say, Periscope, but I like that it archives your video streams online (e.g. http://www.mevee.com/trevoryoung) whereas with Periscope they disappear after a maximum of 24 hours. Live-streaming via mobile device is still new as a medium but it promises much for the PR industry. I think it's important for practitioners to get involved and experiment a bit personally so you get used to the technology.
Pocket Casts: I'm a podcast junkie. For a long time I used the iPhone 'Podcasts' app but one day it ceased to work after I updated the iOS software, so I switched to Pocket Casts and haven't looked back. It's well designed and super user-friendly; if you're into podcasts, you'll love this 'podcatching' app!
Anchor: Think Twitter, but with just audio. You record a 'wave' (i.e. like an audio tweet - a question, a riff on a particular topic or issue perhaps); it's publicly available - people can just listen to the wave, and/or reply and/or like it. Anchor is only new but it has some interesting applications for communications folks. Like MeVee, for me it's all about experimenting with an up-and-coming medium.”
For PR pros, immediate and reliable communication is crucial whether they work alone, or on team projects. Information needs to be able to flow effortlessly, because changes are happening so fast, and it’s easy to get left behind if you don’t have your communication channels covered. Here are some of the most recommended communication apps.
Trevor Young uses:
“Slack. I'm increasingly using Slack to communicate with clients and collaborators; I find it more effective than email, particularly if there are a number of parties involved in any one conversation. When the email thread gets out of control, that's when Slack comes to the fore. I find it's a lot easier to respond via smartphone while on the move, and real-time conversations on the app are a breeze.”
Corina Manea agrees:
“I absolutely love Slack. At Arment Dietrich, as we are a virtual team, we use Slack as our main communication channel. The Slack app is great! Did I say I love it? I get notifications with sound from every posting of the team members, which allows me to be up to date with what happens on every project and participate to the conversation in real time. The best part, I don't have to depend on a computer to stay in touch with the team.”
The list of tools every good PR should learn to use doesn’t end there. There are also some very specialized apps which can help in certain situations. Here are some additional apps used by PR pros you might find useful.
Corina Manea says:
“I love my Fitbit. Since I got my first Fitbit a few months back, it helped me keep track of my daily exercise routine, it made me more aware of how much exercise I do in a certain day. You can also see how your friends are doing and get competitive :)”
Frank Strong recommends:
“Google Analytics. It took Google a while, but they finally launched an app for Google Analytics (GA). I live in it. How does traffic look, where is it coming from and what are visitors doing next?”
Beki Winchell says:
“I use World Clock along with my Google and Outlook Calendars for deadlines, meetings, tasks and more. I work remotely and am currently in Sweden, which means I have to juggle several time zones to work with my Ragan co-workers and consult with clients. Many PR pros have clients across time zones, which can be a headache for scheduling phone calls, submitting projects and working on editorial calendars. Opening the app lets me see a snapshot of what time it is in the cities I deal with the most so I don’t have to translate it in my head for each task.”
Trevor Young enjoys:
“Pocket. The idea behind Pocket is to save online articles and blog posts so you can go back and read them later. I use it for that, but it really has become my go-to archive of the very best or most interesting articles I want to keep and refer back to at a later date. I use the mobile app for reading, but tend to save to the articles in the first place via a Chrome plugin on my desktop. I use Pocket in tandem with Evernote, which for me is a lot more categorized and 'day-to-day'.”
Mel Carson says:
“Office 365 – Especially the Outlook and OneNote Apps for iPhone. That’s how our team communicates and keeps in touch with meeting notes, tasks and projects.”
Joan Stewart enjoys:
“AWeber's Atom App: Meet a journalist at a networking event who wants to join your email list? Hand her your phone and she can type her name and email address into the Atom App. It lets you choose which list the subscriber should be added to. You have the option of displaying the name of your list, or locking the list name so the subscriber can't see it. AWeber is one of the most popular email management programs.”
Kristen Tischhauser says:
“Dropbox: This app is a little old school but does the trick! I store majority of my client files on Dropbox so it gives me piece of mind knowing that I have access to my files (stored in the cloud) while I'm away from the computer.”
Corina Manea also enjoys:
“Basecamp is our project management tool at Arment Dietrich, where we update project statuses and have conversations with our clients. The mobile app is as easy to use as the desktop version, and it keeps me up to date on all projects I'm part of.”
PR pros, what other apps and tools do you love? Let us know!
Antonio Tooley is a marketing specialist at online editing service EduGeeksClub. He loves writing about business, education and productivity. He's also crazy about riding his bike and bumping into new people (when he's on foot). He will be happy to meet you on Facebook and Twitter.