The top 30+ digital tools for PR agencies
The best PR agencies need the best tools. We scoured the internet (and asked some PR pros) to compile this beefy list of the top tools for PR firms.
I have a serious question for you: how does your desktop look right now? Is it clean, minimalist, and calming? Or does it look like this:
A crazy desktop is just one sign that your PR agency workflow may not be working for you. Tools – the right tools – can take your stressful, chaotic, anxiety-inducing process and make it easy, clean, and (dare we say?) fun.
These are the tools that will get you there.
Before we jump in, why even bother with tools? Well, tools are the key to making your life easier. Sure, you could write all your strategy sessions down on a piece of paper, and that may work for some of the more analog among us, but ultimately, a good tool can save you an absolutely bonkers amount of time in a week.
Not to mention, there are some things that simply cannot be done without a good tool (or ten). Tracking analytics, for example, is extremely difficult or impossible without the right tools. And while we've talked previously about the best overall PR tools, PR firms and agencies come with different sets of needs and challenges than the average PR consultant or solo warrior.
For starters, PR agencies are rarely a one-person show. Working collaboratively requires a unique set of software. Do you want to be emailing back the same Word document 40 times? No. Nobody wants that.
Agencies are also often juggling myriad clients and businesses at once, meaning the tools need to hold much greater volume than an in-house PR person working with only one business. Having one program to manage social media for 20 businesses is way easier than trying to remember 20 sets of passwords. Unless you have a mega-brain and unlimited mental space, which is cool and great for you.
Now that you've been successfully convinced as to the utter necessity of PR agency tools, let's talk. Our list of the best tools for PR agencies is organized by type of software, though many of these tools have multiple functions or features. We did our best to categorize them in a way that made sense.
- Wait, why do PR agencies even need tools?
- Tools for project management
- Tools for remote collaboration
- Tools for managing social media
- CRMs (relationship management software)
- Tools for content creation
- Tools for finding media contacts/opportunities
- Tools for media monitoring
- Event management tools
- Press Release distribution services
- Analytics tools
- All-in-one PR tools
Managing numerous clients will fall into chaos quickly without a strong, reliable project management tool. The following tools are powerhouses for collaborative task management.
Trello is a project management tool where you and your team can manage projects based on boards and cards, and lists. Oh my!
Trello is highly customizable, with plenty of themes, templates, and third-party integrations. You can organize everything from a master board or have several different boards for different clients. It's web-based, so it's perfect for working synchronously with a team, and you can add attachments, assign tasks, and track progress all from one visual interface. It also gives you the option to add some entirely frivolous delight to your task management, which is just a really nice touch.
Trello and Asana are often mentioned together because they're… kinda the same thing. Highly customizable project management collaboration web-based apps.
Many find Trello to be a bit more user-friendly, whereas Asana has a higher learning curve but has more advanced features. Ultimately, however, it comes down to personal preference, so it's certainly worth trying each on for size to decide what works best for you.
Linear.app is another project management tool, and one we happen to use at Prezly. The design is a bit different than Trello and Asana and the projects are "issue" based. But Linear.app is extremely flexible, and great for larger teams that want the flexibility of adding various parameters to their issues, such as appetite, priority, labels and a nested structure. It works well for tracking not only projects and tasks, but other things like bugs and improvements.
It also integrates beautifully with Slack, Intercom, and other remote-working/collaboration tools.
ClickUp has plenty of tools for your project management needs. While it has a free personal plan for solo users, there are plenty of collaborative and task delegation tools for teams and agencies (for a fee). It has tons of integrations and boasts to be a fantastic tool for things like event planning, strategy planning, brainstorming, drafting documents, and more.
Google Workspace is a popular project management tool. It's free. It's simple. Teams can collaborate synchronously through Sheets (spreadsheets), Docs (word processor), and more.
While it lacks some of the bells and whistles of more dedicated project-managing software, and many would tell you that it's kinda old fashioned, it's often more than enough for many teams. Plus, did we mention free and simple?
Working together seamlessly as an agency is critical to running a great PR firm. As many PR agencies are going remote or hybrid, the need to collab online is greater than ever. These tools will help you share ideas, work together on important projects, and have an important stress-crying session whenever needed.
At some point, you're going to want to talk to your team (presumably). Slack is a great messaging tool for remote teams or those who frequently communicate digitally. Your company or agency can create dedicated channels for managing discussions and projects.
Slack centralizes everything into one place, so you don't need to waste time sending a bunch of emails back and forth. Slack is a Prezly staple, and we coordinate pretty much everything over our team Slack. We're confident it will work wonders for PR agencies – particularly if your clients are also Slack users, since you can create shared channels just with them, which really helps keep everyone on the same page.
Another Prezly favorite, Notion is fantastic for working together, organizing company documents, creating meeting notes and company handbooks, tracking projects, building relational databases, and so much more. The limitations of Notion basically do not exist, and Notion could single-handedly run an entire nation if it wanted to. And we'd applaud it as a wonderful and glorious leader.
Sometimes text just doesn't cut it, and you and your team need to collaborate more… directly. And loudly. Zoom is perfect for a quick chat or an endless brainstorming session.
Discord is like Slack with its fun pants on. While it functions similarly (communities organized into chat channels), Discord is often used more for gaming and art, whereas Slack is more for business. That doesn't mean that you and your team can't take advantage of Discord to create something perfect for your agency's needs.
Airtable is a lot of things. It's databases. It's spreadsheets. It's a CRM (if you want it to be). Airtable is incredibly customizable, with many options for integrating with other software, meaning the possibilities are endless. The downside is that it looks like a spreadsheet, which can be a little uninspiring.
Many PR firms are spending an increasing amount of time juggling social media channels for their clients. For better or worse, we're all plugged into Elon's Twitter, and we can't escape. But thankfully, there are some great tools out there to make the terrible process of Instagramming and TikTokking and Mastadoning that much easier.
Buffer can take some of the pressure of managing social media and consolidate all that stress into one place. Does it make social media less stressful? No, of course not. But it is consolidated.
Buffer allows its users to manage multiple accounts, schedule social posts in advance, and tailor messages to the various platforms. Plus, you can track analytics and see your engagements in an easy-to-manage view. It's perfect for PR agencies who don't particularly want to have to log into a million different socials each day.
One thing to watch out for with Buffer and the other social media tools listed here is that they don't always work the best across all platforms. For example, a post you set up might look awesome on Twitter, but format horribly on Instagram, meaning you'll end up tackling those platforms separately all the same. That's why testing is so important.
HootSuite is another social media management tool. It tracks engagements, provides social media suggestions, and allows for bulk posting. HootSuite integrates with all the top social media players to make juggling many socials a breeze. They have individual and team plans for agencies.
Sprout Social is a social media management tool that works well for PR agency collaboration. Posts can be scheduled in advance, and Sprout Social will help track analytics and even has some social listening features.
Keeping track of contacts and clients is important, especially for PR agencies who are typically juggling numerous clients and all their wonderful contacts. It can get confusing, and fast.
A good CRM can help control the chaos, especially when numerous people are in and out of contacts all the time. Salesforce is one of the biggest in the game and has tons of features and integrations to keep your contacts in tip-top shape.
HubSpot is another popular CRM and sales software. It has enterprise options for PR agencies, so everyone can stay on the same page. They also provide other services, like social media management and email marketing, making this a more robust option than just a traditional CRM.
If you're a Microsoft die-hard, Dynamics 365 might be the CRM for you and your PR agency. It's another CRM with sales and marketing features, and it integrates well with the Microsoft ecosystem. It may be a little feature-heavy for some PR agencies, as it can also include HR, supply-chain management, and other seemingly unrelated services, but ultimately that will come down to personal preference.
It's not enough for a PR agency to know how to write a press release. Agencies are now firmly in the content creation game, as more and more PR is happening over socials. Even if you're not a seasoned graphic designer or videographer, there are some great tools to give your team an aesthetic boost.
Figma is perfect for any PR team that needs to make beautiful art (like the masterpiece above). Or, if "art" is a bit lofty, then at least some powerful visuals.
Figma is awesome because you can collaborate super easily with your design team, and there are tons of powerful tools and plugins that make this design tool into a super… tool.
If your clients rely on video or audio as part of their strategy, Descript is a great service for assembling social media clips, editing long-form video and audio, creating transcriptions, and more. You can upload right to social media or content hosting platforms from Descript. It's perfect for a PR agency that knows the power of repurposing content and digital storytelling.
The CoSchedule Headline Analyzer is a neat, free tool for those who dread writing headlines. CoSchedule will break your headline down scientifically and let you know how it could be improved. PR agencies can take advantage of this neat tool to make more engaging headlines for clients' blog posts, emails, and more.
Canva gets a bad rep because a lot of what is produced on Canva looks distinctly Canva-ish. But it doesn't have to be that way. Even if you're not a graphic artist, there are many customizable templates and elements that can fit your clients' brand identities. And, unlike tools like Photoshop and Figma, Canva is quite user-friendly and perfect for a collaborative team.
PR agencies spend a lot of time scouting out coverage opportunities for their clients. Throw the Rolodex away and use one (or all) of these handy PR agency tools for media contacts.
MuckRack is sort of like a phone book but for journalists and media personalities. It can be a powerful tool to build a curated, niche media list (so you don't have to buy a crappy one). MuckRack lets you find and connect with writers, journalists, and media outlets who write for the audiences you'd like to reach.
Love it or hate it, you can't deny that Twitter definitely… exists. And it certainly is still the go-to for many journalists and media personalities. Twitter's Communities feature is an interesting way to connect with people in your niche, and many journalists like (or even prefer) a quick DM over an email (obviously, how journalists like to be pitched will vary from person to person).
LinkedIn isn't just for HR aunties and digital nomad marketing bros anymore. Nor is it that thing you only grudgingly log into when you get laid off or need to see what your high school ex-boyfriend is doing these days.
LinkedIn can be a surprisingly great way to connect with others in your particular field. With over 900 million users, you're bound to find a few to connect with when building your agency's media list.
Connect with us on LinkedIn!
HARO (or Help A Reporter Out) can be a fantastic tool for PR agencies that are looking to get that sweet, sweet media coverage for their clients (which is to say, all of them). It's a tool run by Cision that connects journalists with sources in related fields through daily digests.
We have an entire breakdown of the best HARO practices if you're into that sort of thing, as well as the best HARO alternatives for connecting with journalists.
Similar to HARO, Qwoted is a service that connects sources with journalists. It's a bit newer than HARO and unlike HARO's famed email digest format, Qwoted is a browser-based networking tool.
Meltwater is a media monitoring service that helps you track coverage from all over the internet and beyond. If you're wondering where your brand is being mentioned and in what light, media monitoring is great for scouring broadcast TV, podcasts, blogs, and articles.
They also provide social listening across the various platforms so you can know what the Gen Z kids are saying on TikTok without the indignity of downloading the app.
We love Google Alerts because it's quite a bit… freer than the other options. Not emotionally. Just financially. Google Alerts can be set up about you, your industry, your competitors, your sworn enemies.
Any and all topics you want to stay aware of, a Google Alert can be set up and you'll receive an email when someone on the internet has a hot take on the topic. This can be great for strategy, reactive PR, or simply just staying up to date.
Mention does audience listening, social insights, and, naturally, brand mention alerts. They even have tools for posting and scheduling social content, which is pretty cool! They have a dedicated agency plan for PR agencies, and automatic report generation, so you don't need to spend hours slaving over a hot PowerPoint.
Whether you're looking for an all-in-one brand management tool to grow your brand, prevent a crisis, or dabble in influencer marketing, Brandwatch might be the tool for you and your agency. They boast daily marketing trend reports so you can stay on top of the market for your clients. Fun fact: Brandwatch is also one of the best AI tools for PR →
If you happen to be in Belgium (Prezly is, after all, a Belgian company!), Belga.press is a fantastic resource for monitoring all the most important news in Belgium and beyond. They'll help you track, analyze, and report on the topics that are important to you, your agency, and your clients. Plus, it integrates perfectly with Prezly's coverage feature, which means you can see the coverage linked to contacts in your PR CRM.
If your clients are relying on you for help planning, organizing, and coordinating their events, check out these useful tools for making the whole process that much easier.
Eventbrite is popular in the event-hosting scene for a reason. Their service provides tools and resources to plan, host, promote, and engage with the event audience.
They work with both virtual and in-person events, and they even have a "free" option for free events (free is our favorite price) and are definitely worth a look for those of you dabbling in events PR.
WildApricot is an all-in-one event-planning software. You can manage event tickets, donations, a store, a website, online payments, and more with one simple tool.
Not everyone uses press release distribution services anymore, and many prefer a more direct approach to getting coverage. But if your agency clients want wire services as part of their distribution, these are the best in the biz.
Get your clients' press releases in front of the eyes that want them with PRpro. PRpro has an international audience distribution, convenient pricing plans, and they even have a fabulous, feature-rich newsroom collaboration with Prezly (hey, that's us)!
Business Wire is a classic in the PR distribution game. They have multimedia options for press release distribution, and they distribute in 200+ countries.
Nobody wants to look at numbers, but at some point, you're going to need them. Use these tools to inform your PR agency's amazing strategy and measurement efforts.
Another great free product from the Google Overlords, Google Analytics gives you insights into how your site is performing, how visitors interact with your content, how many people are visiting your site and where they're visiting from, and so much more. Google Analytics is hugely powerful if you know how to use it (and there is a bit of a learning curve).
A word of caution: recent years have seen some privacy concerns brought against Google, particularly by businesses in Europe, so it's certainly worth considering these alternatives to Google Analytics 4 before you take the plunge.
Ahrefs is the OG of tracking website analytics. It has a ton of tools for strategic SEO for any great PR agency. You can not only track your website and your clients' websites, but also competitors, relevant keywords, run site audits, and more. It's one of our favorite tools for site analytics and SEO.
If SEO, content marketing, social media strategy, and digital research are important to your clients, you may want to use Semrush. If it isn't important to your clients, you may want to make sure you didn't accidentally travel back in time 40 years. Semrush has tools for tracking analytics and informing strategy.
If you want a streamlined tool that does all the things, we have one fantastic solution (and absolutely no shame about our self-promotional plug).
We've discussed a lot of tools, but there's something special to be said for a tool that does… everything. Now, don't get us wrong, we understand the egregious bias of including ourselves in a top tools list. But Prezly is a pretty fantastic PR agency tool, if we do say so ourselves.
What is Prezly? It's an all-in-one PR powerhouse that lets you create beautiful newsrooms and press releases that integrate onto your clients' existing websites (or as a standalone), complete with analytics. It's a CRM with tons of options for maintaining those amazing relationships. It allows you to send multimedia campaigns to all of your favorite contacts. And it has tons of agency features to manage a few clients (or a few hundred).
The best tools for your PR agency will largely depend on your individual agency needs, agency size, niche, and more. But we're confident that all of these tools will have something to offer the majority of PR agency folks.
Published March 2023