There’s a lot of work that goes into being a digital PR, and many sides to the role. Thankfully, there is a wide range of extremely useful tools available that help make our lives that tad bit easier.
For this part of the guide, we’ve constructed a list of tools that help in various stages of what a digital pr does. These typically fall under the following categories:
A key part of gaining coverage online is coming up with ideas that are going to interest journalists and their audiences. As discussed in the section on Campaign Ideation, the fundamental idea you are working with is one of the most important parts of the whole process.
The following tools can be used to discover what is being talked about online, what data suggests is most in-demand and the topics you can focus on to start creating your added value:
Buzzsumo is one of the best tools online for discovering the articles and stories that are being shared the most. Journalists are analysed based on the performance of their articles, so it makes complete sense to focus your own efforts on topics you know are performing well for them.
Popularly a Keyword Research tool, AnswerThePublic is a tool used to discover the associated talking points people are asking related to a specific topic. Simply enter the topic you want to focus on, then look for what people are most interested in relating to it. Your starting point can be something as broad as the industry you work in (e.g. travel insurance) or an idea for a campaign you’ve had, which you’re hoping to build on.
Google Related Queries
Google Search is one of the most powerful data sources in the world, and they readily offer related topics of interest both in Autosuggest (i.e. when you start typing a search) and in the Related Queries (at the bottom of the SERPs). This is Google telling you topics that people are actively looking for and of interest to them. This can become a free and instant source of inspiration for ideas, knowing you’re catering to an existing demand.
We’ve previously published an article on the uses of Reddit in Digital PR, but it lives in this list because it’s an always updated source of topics, formats and news highlighting what people are reading about online. Data is Beautiful, in particular, can be act like a tool, guiding you on
Part of ideation is checking how much interest there is in a topic you’re focusing on and also how timely the concept is. Google Trends is invaluable for this. Simple enter a broad description of the topic to see if interest is growing, decreasing or if there are seasonality peaks to help define when you might want to launch a particular campaign.
Journalists Sourcing Tools
Like mentioned in the ‘How to Outreach’ part of this guide, Google News and Search are two of the absolute best places to source journalists. You can use Google as a tool to filter the results by timeframe, allowing you to discover writers who are talking about your topics right now and have a potential interest in the story you have to share.
Gorkana is one of the most popular tools among traditional PRs and digital PRs for sourcing lists of journalists and their contact details. It’s one of the most up-to-date tools on the market, with a team of people constantly updating the database to ensure journalist details are as up-to-date as they can be.
The founder of Gorkana went on to create Roxhill Media aiming to create a platform that isn’t just telephone numbers and email, but more analysis involvement both from a publication and social perspective.
With just under 100k contacts in their UK specific database, Vuelio is one of the largest. They are part of the same company that owns ResponseSource and offer database access on a ‘per market’ basis (US is separate to the UK).
This section specifically looks at the tools that help in outreach.
BuzzStream is one of the most well known and respected outreach tools on the market. It’s a powerhouse of a tool, which supports a wide range of outreach activities but is widely used by agencies and in-house teams for sending, following-up and tracking emails.
Looking for help sourcing email addresses? Hunter.io might just be your new go-to. We’d touched on how to find email addresses in 90% of situations previously in the guide, but for those 10% of tricky situation or just to speed the process up, all you need is the first and last name of the person you want to contact and where they work, and Hunter.io is likely to have an email address for them. Alternatively, open it’s Chrome extension on a page and it will automatically search for emails and their formats per site.
Pitchbox is one of the giants in the outreach tool space. It has a wide range of personalisation options and follow-up sequences that have the ability to save you a huge chunk of time. Pitchbox also uses scraping technology to help source lists of potential outreach targets, making it double up as a journalist sourcing tool as well.
AllMyTweets is a free browser based tool that allows you to look through the complete history of a Twitter user, where you can use a little CTRL+F magic to find an email address they may have shared once-upon-a-time. Be sure to use words such as ‘email’, ‘contact’, @[domain they work for] or even ‘dot’ 😉
Link Tracking Tools
Only Google has a crawler that is more active around the web than Ahrefs. It’s a hugely powerful tool for tracking the external links you’re building and is one of the must-haves for any digital PR or link builder who is looking to track the performance of their campaigns.
We’ve long been fans of Majestic, who have historically boasted one of the largest link indexes of any platform online and also utilise the incredibly useful Trust Flow and Citation Flow link metrics. Digital PRs who have a true grounding in SEO performance, Majestic is a no-brainer. Also, BuzzSumo’s link alerts feature uses Majestic technology to find new backlinks, so you might have access to a part of the index already.
Moz is probably the most well-known SEO tool in the world, with one of the most visited blogs in the space. Their Link Research tool makes up a complete tool-kit of must have link tracking platforms, which has a live link index tracking over 40 trillion links.
If you are on a budget or even just trying to make sure you leave no stone unturned in tracking your links, Google Search Console is not to be forgotten. The ‘Links’ section highlights the links Google have found for your site and individual pages, which can be a massive help in sourcing some of the more obscure links.
Not all features of your digital PR work will be picked up by link tracking tools such as Ahrefs, Majestic and Moz. Talkwalker Alerts delivers snapshots into your inbox as frequently as mentions occur online, allowing you to track unlinked mentions of your campaign hooks, brand and notable people.
Google Alerts is a free tool that allows you to customise mentions online and receive email updates as and when their crawlers discover an alert you are tracking. Use it to mirror the same alerts you’ve set up in Talkwalker Alerts and there’s very little chance you’ll miss any unlinked mentions of your work online.
Last on this list is Google Search itself. One of the first places we go to track pick-up on campaigns we’re running is in Google, running searches that include the name of the campaign, specific data-points, name of the brand, notable experts involved in the campaigns, etc. Be sure to filter the timescale of the results using the ‘tools’ option. This helps narrow down the results and the amount of irrelevant results you’ll inevitably receive.