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Run Your Outreach on Your Own: The Best PR Agency Tools

PR agencies are costly and can't guarantee results. Vetting a reputable agency is no easy task either. These 10 DIY tools can save your business headaches

Aaron Orendorff
June 04 2019

Regardless of the online business you run, PR matters. In fact, Bill Gates went so far as to say, “If I had one dollar left, I’d spend it on PR.”

More from PostFunnel on Brand Awareness:
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Modern PR goes beyond whipping up press releases and cold emailing a dozen reporters, hoping for the best. Today, generating press — whether you’re trying to get coverage for a launch, a product, a new feature, an event, or just your company in general — comes down to being proactive: connecting with the right people at the right time with the right pitch.

To do that, here are 10 tools that’ll help you craft, test, generate, distribute, and monitor your own PR.

1. Pressfarm

Tracking down the right journalist can feel like a daunting task, especially for traditional businesses with nuanced stories and products. Direct outreach – one-on-one connections rooted in each journalist’s specialty – is vital. Pressfarm maintains an extensive searchable database not just of journalists’ names, publications, and positions, but also their emails and subject-matter expertise.

2. JustReachOut

If you’re looking for PR help somewhere between accessing an email database and enlisting an agency, JustReachOut is a solid choice. The platform helps you find the most relevant journalists by describing your product or niche in its search tool. You can then dig deeper with company staff and work one-on-one with their in-house PR experts to formulate your story, pitch, and follow up.

Using pre-loaded or custom email templates, your outreach is as easy as updating key elements based on the articles and authors you discover. (Note: the platform doesn’t allow you to email journalists directly.)

3. ContactOut

This handy little tool is my personal favorite, although it does require significant DIY. Positioned for recruiting, ContactOut is a Chrome extension for unearthing contact information via LinkedIn. I discovered it two years ago and it’s been my go-to source for email addresses ever since. When ContactOut doesn’t have someone’s email address in its database, “Find work email” (shown below) autogenerates a best guess from the domain’s email patterns.

4. Mailshake

Once you’ve generated a list, Mailshake automates and tracks personalized outreach campaigns. After uploading a spreadsheet of contacts — email, name, company, recent headline, publication, etc. — you can either pick a template or start from scratch. As you compose, the platform recommends changes using a real-time analysis box to improve elements like your subject line and body copy. Mailshake also sets up follow-ups after a certain number of days to anyone who doesn’t reply or opt-out.

5. Yesware

Yesware is primarily a performance-tracking system for sales teams. For PR, it has a host of features that automate almost every aspect of email communication. In fact, the platform goes beyond email – it also features a phone dialer you can use from your inbox. Unlike other tools on this list, Yesware integrates with Gmail and Outlook so you can track your outreach efforts from within the programs you’re already comfortable using.

6. Outreach

Whether you’re targeting journalists or influencers, steady and personalized communication is key. So is tracking what’s working and what’s not. First and foremost a sales platform, Outreach helps you do exactly that without harming your relationships. By allowing you to create personalized responses as well as monitor and maintain structured interactions, you can more easily test and optimize through detailed reporting.

7. Mention

As a media monitoring tool, Mention collects publication and social mentions on topics that matter to your brand — as well as those of competitors. This allows you to have the first set of eyes on fast-moving conversations. You’ll be able to watch the news cycle in real time, without having to dig through keyword searches on Google or flip through print outlets. From there, you can determine which trending topics to leverage for your brand.

8. HARO

HARO is short for Help A Reporter Out. It’s an easy-to-use platform where “Sources” and “Journalists” interact to create credible and mutually beneficial stories. Your staff can be a source for a large number of reporters in your niche, nearly all of whom are constantly on the lookout for insights and quotes. After signing up, you’ll get a daily email of opportunities based on your preferences:

9. Distribution

Newswire and Business Wire are the industry standards in press release distribution. Their network of outlets includes a who’s who of major and niche publishers alike. But access comes at a price. In the case of Newswire, 400-word releases cost between $119 and $359 for the lowest tier options. Business Wire doesn’t list prices publicly, but users have reported costs of around $400.

10. Outreach Playbook

This final entry isn’t exactly a tool. Nonetheless, I was tempted to put it first. Instead, think of this as saving the best for last. The truth is, all the PR tools in the world won’t do your business any good without the right pitch, and sadly, this is exactly where most campaigns fall apart.

Mailshake’s Playbook is a comprehensive guide to cold email outreach. It’s lengthy, but pay close attention to sections six and seven – The Anatomy of a Great Outreach Email and Templates. There, you’ll find a host of easy to follow and effective scripts with clear instruction of what goes where:

Running Your Own PR Like an Agency

PR matters. But that doesn’t mean you have to hire an agency to run a professional PR campaign. Instead, you can invest in the right tools to find, test, monitor, distribute, and pitch, potentially achieving even better results than with expensive external services.

When in doubt as to the value of PR, remember Bill Gates and where his last dollar is going.

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