Whether you handle your public relations activities in-house, or contract with an external public relations agency, using the right tools to plan, manage and produce content is a must. The good news – especially for small businesses – is that there are many free tools out there that you can use to support your public relations strategies. Here are ten of our favorites.
Google Alerts – A great tool for media monitoring and keeping track of mentions of your brand. Simply set your key words or phrases, and Google Alerts will send you email notifications of new mentions.
Google Analytics – Free, and still one of the best tools for analyzing traffic to your website in terms of numbers, location, how long visitors stay on the site and, crucially, which pages they visit. This latter measure is an essential tool in gauging how website landing pages and blogs are performing in terms of engagement.
Social media tools
BuzzSumo – Allows any PR firm or marketing department to run unlimited content research and influencer searches, as well as providing alerts for your chosen brand, competitors, keywords and backlinks. BuzzSumo isn’t permanently free, but it’s one of the most powerful tools of its type, and the free 14-day trial period provides enough of a window to gather vital data to inform your public relations strategies.
Hootsuite – Hootsuite is a first-class social media tool that allows you to manage all your social media in one place and to schedule posts in advance. If your public relations strategy involves multiple tweets posted throughout the day, Hootsuite can be a tremendous time-saver.
Media relations tools
HARO – Help a Reporter Out. This is a service that connects journalists with sources; sign up as a source and you’ll receive emails outlining journalists’ requests for expert sources in various industries and sectors. This can be a great tool for presenting your company and its senior employees as subject matter experts and thought leaders.
Photos, graphics and infographics
Whether it’s a tweet, a Facebook post or a blog, it’s been shown time and again that visual content plays an important role in encouraging engagement. While purchasing stock photography and creating custom graphics may be an option for some businesses, there are many free alternatives available for those with a tighter budget:
Flickr – With 122 million users and around a million new photos posted every day, Flickr is one of the foremost photo-sharing platforms on the Internet. It’s easily searchable, and you can filter your searches to only see photos with licenses that allow for free commercial use. Licensing info on each photo page will indicate whether photographer attribution is required.
Pixabay – Pixabay offers high-quality curated photos, illustrations, vector graphics and videos under a Creative Commons CC0 license; that means free for commercial use with no requirement to either request permission or credit the artist.
Unsplash – Another source of free, high-resolution photographs. Unsplash has a straightforward search function, and also has pre-sorted search buttons at the top of the home page for categories such as business, team, health, food, people etc.
Hubspot – Hubspot offers a package of 15 free infographic templates, fully customizable in PowerPoint or Adobe Illustrator. These are great for saving the time of creating infographics in-house, or the expense of paying for custom graphics.
Easel.ly – A simple-to-use site that allows you to quickly create infographics based on thousands of available templates. How simple? The site won an award from the American Association of School Librarians commending it for “being simple enough that even a child in the 6th grade could successfully navigate the site and design their infographic without adult assistance.”
These are just a handful of the many free resources out there that can be used by any PR team or public relations agency to empower their public relations strategies. Identifying and obtaining the right tools and resources for the job is vital, but many free solutions such as these can be easily as effective as their paid counterparts.