PR Tools 101:
A Hundred (+1) Essential Public Relations Tools

By David Sawyer, Senior digital communication manager

I'm not technical.

Like many people working in public relations, science and technology weren't my strong point as a kid.

I didn't like chemistry sets. Learning how to wire a plug passed me by.

Now, my idea of hell on Christmas Day is the grandparents buying my wee ones some technical lego.

But when it comes to my day job - digital public relations - I embrace PR tools and technology like a parched Foreign Legionnaire happening upon a desert oasis.

And the more I drink, the more thirsty I become. In fact, so extensive is my PR stack, I'm in danger of gorging myself on PR tool-water.

Why you should read this post

I reveal the 101 PR tools I use to make my life easier.

Without these techniques, I could barely do my job.

And implementing public relations strategies fast and well would be impossible.

You'll get

A: The lowdown on each PR tool.

B: How I use it.

C: A handy link.


If you're a full-stack PR kinda girl/guy you'll want to read it all.

But perhaps you just focus on one aspect of the discipline.

For example, if media relations is your only bag, you can go straight to the media relations section, and cut out the boring bit about SEO.

Top Tech PR people and brands

In a hurry?

Get a list of their favourite tools


Before I reveal my unfeasibly large PR stack, why should you listen to me?

Three reasons:

  • I started life as a PR consultant in 1997 when we posted press releases. Technology can be transformative for your public relations practice. It's transformed mine.

  • I'm a multi-award-winning senior PR who's got with the digital programme. I blog about it on my site, and on others. Google me.

  • You've read this far. You may as well stick around for the juicy bit! Here goes.

101 PR tools

to rule them all (and a few bonus tools in the pro tips)

Analytics PR tools

Without being able to measure your digital PR activities, you may as well go home now.  For more types of analytics tools, see the section on SEO (e.g. backlink and ranking trackers).


All your social media stats in one place.

SumAll PR tool

My favourite. If you do one thing to get better at analysing the effects of your PR campaigns, learn how to use GA.

Twitter Analytics PR software

In Search Console, it is easy to see what keyword phrases are getting people to your website.

Search Console public relations tool

Google's where it's at in the UK search market.

But Bing Webmasters is still a must-have analytics tool for any PR or digital marketer.

Bing webmaster tools – PR software

Content curation PR tools

I do a lot of this, for my business, and my clients.

I started off with one system and progressed to another. For the full sp, read this post from last month. For the short version, read on.

My go-to resource for good content.

Once you have delved into a topic and worked out what questions your clients' buyer personas need answers for, you quickly get to know the best sources of content.

And what better way to read and pass it on, than from the safe haven of your email inbox.

Postanly PR software

An RSS and blog feed reader through which you can identify good content. I use the Add to Feedly Chrome extension.

Feedly screengrab

I make a point of connecting with influencers in my and my client's fields. You soon get to know who is posting good content. Stuff you want to share.  I keep an eye on these Connections and pass on their best information.

LinkedIn screengrab

I use the URL shortener Chrome extension for quick, traceable shares.

If I want to insert a call to action for the client, for example sending people to their newsletter signup page, I use Sniply. screengrab

You can receive daily emails from these guys based on your interests, and those of  your e.g. Twitter following. Sort of like curating your own content. I find the Medium Daily Digest a particularly rich source of niche PR blog posts to share.

Nuzzel for PR teams

Content marketing PR tools

This covers a wide range of content. All types. A video. A SlideShare. An infographic.

But a lot of the time it's blogging. Proper blogging.

Done right, this takes time, systems, processes. Free tools can help take the pain out of all the fiddly little aspects of ghostwriting blogs for clients. And let you concentrate on the interesting, creative stuff: the writing.

Surely the bane of most graphic designers' lives.

One of a new breed of tools that helps digital PRs knock up everything from memes, to Twitter banners, to blog post featured images. My go-to design tool.

Canva – Handy online PR software for communication teams

Every modern-day public relations pro needs a screen-grabber.

This one's good because you can annotate the screenshot, plus save it direct to your Google Drive, making sure to click "private".

Useful when illustrating a point in a blog post you're writing for a client.

Awesome screenshot,  screengrab

I use this Chrome extension if I just want to grab a screen, not annotate.

It's quicker than Awesome Screenshot and the image size is smaller. So it takes less time to load when placed on a website.

Pro tip: download Jing. Hat tip here to web strategist extraordinaire Andy Crestodina.

Save to Google drive, screengrab

If you want to be a writer, you need to write. Daily. I use this tool to pen blog posts and email newsletters. Half the time my own; half my public relations company’s clients.

It's the first thing I do when I get into work every morning. Yes, before I check my Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, and email.

Yes, really.

750 words screengrab

What keyword phrase do you want to rank your blog post for?

With RankBrain and the advance of semantic search, it's all about relevancy.

Put your phrase into this tool and it will tell you all the related phrases that Google expects to see in a blog post about your keyword phrase.

For example, in this one if I talk about different public relations tools, reputation, campaigns, garnering publicity, and newswires, Google and Bing are gonna like that.

Once you've written your piece, read it again. Then include some of these related phrases in your piece. Don't force it.

Pro Tip: There are a few more tools that have sprung up/I’ve become aware of since first publishing this post. So, writing on 20 July 2016, the pick of the bunch are Answer The Public and this little-known one, which I particularly like:

LSI graph screengrab

These tools I use for blog research. Anything from topic inspiration to headlines, to how many backlinks pieces of content on a given topic have garnered.

The paid BuzzSumo subscription is worth it.

Google trends screengrab

Upload any image. Write on it. Add a company logo. Featured blog post images in minutes.

Pro Tip: Try Snappa. Same deal, a gorgeous, free PR tool. But, if anything, it’s better.

Pablo by Buffer, screengrab

Turn any blog post into a pdf and offer it as a free/gated download on your site.

Pro Tip: If you want to get really professional, the latest must-have content upgrade tool is Beacon, a WordPress plugin. Try this and you’ll never turn back. Not free but not much money either.

Print friendly screengrab

Twenty-five per cent of the world's websites operate on WordPress now.

When I first meet a prospective PR client and she tells me their website CMS is WordPress I breathe a huge sigh of relief.

WordPress puts the power in business owners’ hands. And it gives you a good head start when it comes to SEO.

Wordress – A PR teams best friend

Which brings me to Yoast. The SEO plugin for WordPress.

It helps you optimise your website pages for Google (and any other system for that matter) Search.

SEO for Wordress screengrab

Hubspot's writers craft 25 headlines before picking the best one. This is a cracking tool that scores your headline from 1-100.

Anything over 70 and you're on to a winner. Just make sure your featured image and blog post match the promise of the headline.

CoScheduele blog post analyser – screengrab

As above. But this one measures the emotion in your headline. Aim for 40 per cent.

EMVHA screengrab

There are plenty of non-stocky free image sites out there but I only use these two. Why? The pics are great, easy to attribute (in the case of Foter), and they're super-speedy to use.

I’ve written about this before.

Pro Tip: Over the last three months (writing on 20 July 2016) Foter’s added 100 million images to its database while Unsplash has upped the ante too. Foter also has an even cleaner interface.

Unsplash free images – screengrab

This site compresses images I find in Foter and Unsplash without any loss of quality.

This decreases the page load speed, an important aspect of user experience, and SEO.

Pro Tip: If you want to bulk compress multiple images, try this tool. It makes life easier

Compressor screengrab

I use this tool when I want to jazz up a blog post and encourage more shares. For example, I wrote a post on 21 lessons I'd learnt from reading a classic graphic design book.

In it, I featured 21 quotes by author Adrian Shaughnessy. If I'd had time, I could have done what my friend Glenn Leibowitz did with a similar post he wrote. With impressive results.

Slideshare screengrab

Great for sharing visual content, the world's second biggest search engine, and super-important for your SEO.

Besides, people like to see pictures of you talking before they buy.

Youtube screengrab

I tell all my clients to put their blog posts on their sites first, then post them on LinkedIn. A powerful B2B blogging platform with, unfortunately, a lot of rubbish on it.

But what other blogging platform notifies all your friends every time you put up a blog post.

Linkedin Publishing – a must-have PR tool

A beautiful place to write and blog. It works for content marketing in some industry sectors but is not for everyone.

Medium screengrab

Trello is a good place to plan projects and tasks. I get blog post ideas all the time. Morning, noon or night, I write them down in Trello.

Trello project management for PR teams

I use this to plan editorial calendars, using an elaborate colour-coding system.

Google calendar content calendar screengrab

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The 101 PR tools of a senior communication manager

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Email marketing PR software

Sounds a bit old school. Surely this antiquated technology is not a suitable content delivery mechanism in 2016? Wrong.

If there's one piece of advice I could give to clients, it would be this.  Set up and spend time nurturing your list.

Then give your customers/people you are trying to reach value-laden content. The best in your field.

Keep at it, and it WILL pay dividends.

Every time that chimp gives me a high five as a client's latest piece of email brilliance wings its way to inboxes the length and breadth of the world, I smile.

MailChimp makes things easy for and speaks to you just right. It's your friend. Use it.

MailChimp screengrab

I use Sniply to conjure up bespoke email sign-up CTAs when I share an email newsletter through social media.

Sniply screengrab

People don't just magically subscribe to your list. You have to make it easy for them. SumoMe has a suite of tools that work on any website (Ninja Popups is a WordPress plugin only). Noah Kagan’s SumoMe takes some time to set everything up but it's worth it. Brilliant stuff.

Pro Tip: If you want to get a bit more serious read on. Say your PR client has tasked you with growing their email list through producing quality content. The best blogging tool is Thrive.

I use free MailChimp, Thrive Leads, Thrive Landing Pages, Thrive Content Builder, in conjunction with Beacon (design ebooks, checklists etc for content upgrades) and Postmark (for delivering the content upgrade to the list subscriber.

SumoMe screengrab

Media / blogger / influencer relations PR tools

Most public relations professionals’ bread and butter, since time immemorial. But even in this most traditional of PR fields, online tools make life easier. New methods of reaching people to get your message across. Here are a few: some old; some new.

For press releases. The only thing I use Word for nowadays. Useful, though, because it's still the word processing tool of  choice for most clients.

MS Word screengrab

This you must subscribe to. It's an essential tool for any PR, however digital their ass may be.

It is impossible to keep up with the comings and goings of thousands of UK journalists and bloggers. This tool does it for you.

Cision screengrab

A useful site to find out what journalists have written.

Journalisted screengrab

A personality profiling tool that, with uncanny accuracy, suggests how to communicate with empathy. Gold dust.

Crystal Knows screengrab

A writing tool that simplifies your writing to appeal to a lower reading age.

Hemingway App screengrab for public relations tools post

I use Grammarly. Wherever I am online (on a web form, in my email, in Word) it spell-and-grammar checks my writing. A big time-and-face-saving tool.

Grammarly screengrab for PR software post

A rudimentary look at how influential the person you are dealing with is. Flawed, in both cases, but useful nevertheless, if you know where the flaws lie.

Aside from the influencer ratings, Mention is a must-subscribe for any independent practitioner. It tracks all mentions of your client (bar print and broadcast coverage).

Klout influencer scoring screengrab for communication tools post

Trying to a find an international journalist's contact details?

Just stick the domain name into Email Hunter and chances are it'll find him. Exceedingly useful when contacting bloggers and influencers in general.

Email hunter – Screengrab for public relations tools post

A Chrome extension that shows the total share count of any piece of content, in your browser. Click on it and you get the breakdown. Not a metric on which I'd base the success of any campaign but nice to have.

Social Analytics –  screengrab for PR software post

Do you email journalists? Rapportive works if you are using Gmail and the contact you are approaching is on LinkedIn.

It shows you their mini LinkedIn profile in your Gmail.

And you can connect with them without having to fire up LinkedIn in your browser. Used along with Crystal and Journalisted, this is a quick way of tailoring your email to the journalist.

Rapportive for Gmail – PR software to understand your contacts

Key stats on any Twitter user, in your Twitter. What hashtags do they use, how often do they tweet, how influential are they, which social channels are they on.

Riffle –  screengrab

I've used this tool, along with Cision, to build a brilliant international blogger list. The guys who run it are helpful too. It's got shed loads more functionality as well.

Ninja Outreach screengrab

To issue press releases. I make particular use of Gmail's canned response feature when contacting bloggers and journalists.

Gmail to issue press releases – screengrab


My second most important media relations/blogger/influencer tool. Only pipped to the post by meeting them face-to-face (there'll be a tool for that, I'm sure. Oh yeah, that's Skype).

Skype screengrab

Productivity public relations tools

Whether you’re working as a consultant or in-house; private or public sector, life as a PR pro is busy. These useful-across-the-board online Chrome extensions make practising public relations a little bit easier.

If LastPass ever went down, or worse still, got hacked, the game would be a bogey for Zude PR. If you use lots of tools, you have lots of passwords. This Chrome extension remembers them all for you. Dynamite.

LastPass screengrab

Reduce tab clutter and make your browser run up to 95 per cent faster. What's not to like. I discovered this three months ago and it's a godsend for anyone who regularly has many tabs up in their Chrome. It's particularly useful when curating content.

OneTab screengrab

How many items do you have right now on your to-do-list? I always start the day off with just five, thanks to Dayboard, and every time I call up a new tab, I am reminded of them. Another useful Chrome extension.

Dayboard screengrab for communication tools post

We've all been there. You've spent ages filling in a fiddly online form, only for the Internet to go down.

Lazarus brings your lost-but-not-forgotten form fill-ins back from the dead. Like magic.

Pro Tip: Tools are all very well (essential, actually). But they only get you so far.

Last month (June 2016) I published a definitive post on how to be productive. You can read it here: there are contributions from the likes of David Meerman Scott, Ana Hoffman, Gini Dietrich, Beki Winchel, Carrie Morgan, Stephen Waddington, and Ted Rubin.

Lazarus screengrab for external communication tools post

SEO PR tools

An area most PR companies realise is important, but don’t prioritise learning. Leading to an often myopic approach to their craft. Here are my top search engine optimisation tools.

I use the Chrome extension to tell me things like where a company's website traffic is coming from. And how many hits they're getting a month. More voodoo.

SimilarWeb SEO PR software

I use these to track the keyword phrases I want my PR clients' websites to rank for.

What's my SERP – essential SEO public relations software

I use these go-to SEO tools for backlink checking, identifying competitor backlinks, keyword research.

Moz research tool OSE - screengrab

Why is this free? It spiders your site to give you all your on-page SEO data, gratis.

SEO spider on-page SEO – screengrab

Google Reviews are a little less important to your local SEO in 2016 than they were a couple of years ago.

But they're still a factor in how you rank for your target transactional local keyword phrases.

Boomerang helps you space out your review Gmail outreach so you don't get a host of reviews in a oner.

A flurry of reviews would not go down well with Google.

Boomerang for Gmail - screengrab

I love the user experience of this tool.  Lovely.

Monitor backlinks - screengrab

I use these tools when I'm compiling keyword reports for clients.

Google sheets - screengrab

Still the go-to tool when compiling a list of phrases on which to optimise your website pages. Bing has a tool too. Use that as well.

Pro Tip: Moz has a new keyword tool, launched in May 2016. I’ve tried it. It’s brilliant: best on the market. It’ll cost you an arm and leg if you subscribe, but there’s always the free 30-day trial. Here’s a great blog post from Rand Fishkin explaining how to use it.

Google keyword planner for SEO PR teams

More keyword inspiration, of particular use when looking for longtail, niche blog posts. The sort that often work best if the aim is to drive traffic to your website.

Keywords anywhere – screengrab for PR tool post

The daddy of Chrome extensions. I particularly like the green highlighter pen. Click it to see if a link back to your site is do (passing link juice) or no (not passing link juice) follow.

MozBar –  screengrab

More SEO stats.

SEO SERP workbench - screengrab

Use Moz Local's "check your listing" feature for an overview of your international citations. Then head over to BrightLocal for the silver service (and a wider look at your local SEO).

Along with Whitespark, these are the three go-to tools for helping you start the laborious process of sorting your client’s crucial local, national, and international citations.

Whitespark -  screengrab

Social Media PR tools

No surprises here. A basic social media toolbox for any PR.

Is this a tool, or, like Google, part of the fabric of our lives?

Too big to ignore for most businesses, even those selling B2B. A key local citation and, with boosting, at a minimal price, a powerful tool for any business. But measure its ROI.

Facebook -  screengrab

Easy social media scheduling. Buffer is easier to use and has a neat feature where it optimises the times of day you post.

Hootsuite -  screengrab

For sharing, interacting, listening, and learning.

Twitter -  screengrab

I use this (sparingly) to automatically share new blog posts from authors I trust.

Twibble -  screengrab

Website PR solutions

For most organisations, websites are their marketing hub. So – as an industry inextricably entwined with marketing, PR, and its practitioners – needs more than a working knowledge of websites.

Here are some of the proven, tried and tested, tools that I use.

A snazzy Chrome extension that tells you how any website is built. I usually use it to see what CMS a prospective client's website is made with.

Builtwith -  screengrab

What font or combination of fonts are they using and what's the font size and line spacing? Sounds a bit techy but these things influence readability and time on page.

Whatfont -  screengrab

A Chrome extension that shows the exact Pantone colour on any website. Useful if you want to carry a small business's brand-feel into e.g. a MailChimp template.

ColorZilla -  screengrab

I don't design or programme websites, but I do produce them. And I want to know at the end of the build process that the site works on any device.

This tool helps.

It's also good for explaining to a prospective client why, in 2016, they might want to consider a website refresh.

Window Resizer

Test out changes on a website (e.g. font size and line spacing) before making them live.

Chrone dev tools -  screengrab

A neat Chrome extension that gives you daily graphic design inspiration.


Tools through which you can conduct a rudimentary site audit. Useful for pointing out any glaring errors.

Website grader -  screengrab


There is a school of thought that you should get to know a few online PR and digital marketing tools well.

Learn how to use them. Then ditch the rest.

But I say no. Quite the opposite.

Sample as many tools as you can. A wide range.

Work out what they can do for you. Then dip in and out of them.

Granted, you'll have your favourites. And when you establish what they are, take out a subscription.

But keep all those other ones in your back pocket. The free ones.

All have their strengths and weaknesses and it's only through using them you'll work out what they can do for your clients.

Tools are no substitute for knowledge BUT they can help you complete tasks quicker and better.

You don't have to gorge yourself on them like I do.

But if you don't know what they can do or how to use them, you're in deep water as a modern day PR.


Most tools mentioned in this post have free versions and paid.

They also have desktop versions, apps, and Chrome extensions. They can email you information daily/weekly.

How you use each tool is up to you. For my most popular tools, I use the Chrome extensions (SimilarWeb, Email Hunter, MozBar), many I ask to email me (Nuzzel, Medium, Riffle), some are built into my Gmail (Rapportive, Crystal), some magically appear on Twitter (Klout), some are built into any form I fill in online (Lazarus, Grammarly), some sit as programs on my desktop (Screaming Frog).

And so it continues.

My point is: you need to set up your own stack and get it working for you. Your workflow.

Further reading (x5)

Here are the top five up-to-date (20 July 2016) posts I’ve read on digital PR tools. Should you need any further inspiration. They cover the whole gamut of digital PR from SEO to list-building:

Two final tips

If you're considering embarking on the rocky road to full stack PR-dom, do this:

  1. Buy the best laptop you can afford/persuade your boss to invest in one.

  2. And work somewhere with high-speed broadband.

A stack this unfeasibly large needs to be well-oiled.

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101 essential PR tools for 2016

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