A few weeks ago, we posed the question, could a robot do a PR pro’s job? Don’t worry – for now and the foreseeable future, the answer is no, PR will remain a human-powered industry. Robots won’t automate PR pros out of a job, but they can help us automate repetitive tasks, freeing up time to focus on the fun parts of PR - creativity and strategy.
Here are ten boring PR tasks we’re more than happy to hand over to the robots, and the tools you’ll need to automate them.
1. Tracking who responds to your emails
If you send a lot of pitch emails, tracking them manually gets tricky in a hurry. It’s easy, though time-consuming, to keep a spreadsheet of everyone who writes you back, but for those who don’t respond, how do you know whether they’re reading your emails or ignoring them?
Take a leaf out of the sales playbook and install Yesware. A Gmail add-on that was originally designed for sales professionals, Yesware has a lot to offer PR pros, too. Use it to monitor opens, clicks, and responses for every email you send to influencers. You can also create templates to automate your outreach and track which messages resonate best.
2. Publishing and distributing multimedia press releases
Building a multimedia press release is hard enough. Making it responsive and email-ready is even harder - you need to get your contacts from Excel to your email provider, upload high-resolution assets to your press room, add image previews to your emails, make sure your assets look good on multiple devices… the list goes on!
Prezly solves this problem by combining multimedia email distribution with custom online newsrooms. Create a multimedia press release in your own custom-branded newsroom, and Prezly automatically generates a multimedia email version that you can pitch to journalists. Both the newsroom and the email are responsively designed to look great on desktop, tablet, and mobile devices, and every email includes analytics to help you track response rates.
3. Posting and scheduling social media updates
If you’re still posting social media updates manually, it’s time to leave the Dark Ages. There are many free and inexpensive tools available to help you manage your social media accounts in one place, schedule posts throughout the day so you aren’t glued to your computer, and track engagement with your posts and followers.
If you manage multiple client accounts, Buffer is an excellent choice. In addition to scheduling and detailed analytics, Buffer lets you add up to 150 social media accounts and 25 team members - this means that if you have 20 clients with 5 social accounts each, you can easily manage them all inside of a single Buffer account, and still have social accounts to spare. You can also assign team members to specific accounts and specify permissions.
4. Building lists of influencers
The days of scouring Google for influencer contact details are over. If you’re tired of searching for influencers and entering their contact details into an Excel spreadsheet one at a time, give Buzzstream a try.
Using a bookmarklet called Buzzmarker, Buzzstream lets you turn a website or blog post into a contact record in their database. Bookmark an article by an influential journalist, for example, and Buzzstream will automatically pull in any email addresses and social profiles associated with that journalist. You can add relevant data to the record such as level of influence, pagerank, and custom tags, and create segmented influencer lists based on that data. You can even email influencers directly from the platform.
5. Crafting a relevant email response
When an influencer emails you, you want to craft a response that’s as relevant as possible. So what do you do? Do you research this person on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google to see who they are and what they care about, and tailor your email accordingly? Or do you automate this tedious process with LinkedIn's Sales Navigator?
Sales Navigator is a simple Gmail add-on that automatically shows you important social data from people who email you, helping you to create a relevant response based on where they live, what they’re tweeting about, and any other recent online activity. The information appears right in your inbox, where you can take action on it immediately.
6. Enriching your influencer list with social data
If you have a list of influencer emails, but no social profiles, you don’t have to make a long date with Google search to enrich your data. Do it quickly, easily, and (here’s that word again) automatically with FullContact instead.
There’s a reason they call FullContact the “person API”. Using it feels almost magical - enter an email address or Twitter handle, and get back a list of all the social profiles associated with that email or handle. You can also sync contacts from all your address books, fix duplicates, and correct formatting errors in your database - you guessed it - automatically!
7. Staying in touch with influencers
It’s a smart PR move to stay in touch with your influencers, even when you don’t have big news to share. Sending an occasional relevant link or useful article can build rapport with a journalist, establish your credibility as a reputable source, and increase your chances of getting coverage when you need it. But we’re all busy, and keeping in touch is easier said than done.
Contactually is a handy tool that sends you automatic reminders to contact people on your media list whom you haven't reached out to in awhile. The tool also provides helpful contextual information like social updates and recent conversations, as well as email templates to help you know what to say.
8. Tracking and recording phone calls
Following up a pitch email with a phone call can be a powerful way to build relationships with influencers. You know what’s even more powerful? Giving the conversation your full attention instead of furiously taking notes the entire time.
Nextiva is a fully fledged VOIP phone system which lets you record your calls and track the leads/companies you communicate with in a CRM. Close.io is also a cool little app that lets you track and record conversations with influencers, so you can focus on the discussion at hand. When you make a phone call to someone on your media list, Close.io logs it automatically in the influencer’s contact record - you don’t have to do any manual data entry. Close.io offers audio recording, too, so you can refer back to the actual conversation, not your incomplete notes, whenever you need to. If you need the call transcribed, Close.io also integrates with Rev, a suspiciously inexpensive audio transcription service.
9. Building social dashboards for clients
How many hours of your life have you devoted to pulling social media reports from different sources, manually aggregating them in Excel, and emailing them one by one to clients? There’s a better way to keep clients informed, and it’s called Netvibes.
Netvibes is a tool that even the biggest automation skeptics can get behind. With Netvibes, you can offer clients your very own proprietary, custom-branded social dashboard that automatically pulls in real-time results from all the social campaigns you’re running. Clients can access their dashboard 24 hours a day, from any device, and you’ll never have to build another Excel pivot table again.
10. Searching for keywords on Twitter
If your clients have an active presence on Twitter, social monitoring tools might not be enough to keep track of the entire conversation, especially if you’re using a free or inexpensive platform that doesn’t offer keyword searches.
Twilert is a simple but powerful tool that offers Twitter search alerts - think of it as Google alerts for Twitter. You can get real-time alerts of Tweets containing search terms that you specify, as well as hashtags and brand mentions. You can sign up to get email alerts by the minute, hour, day, or week.
Round up – don’t fear automation; embrace it!
If this list is any indicator, PR pros have little to fear and much to gain by embracing PR automation. The robots aren’t going to take our jobs; on the contrary, they’re going to help us make the human side of PR even better. Anything that allows us to spend more time getting creative and less time in Excel hell is a good thing.
Let’s leave the boring, repetitive parts of PR to the robots. With a little help from automation, PR pros are free to focus on the parts of the job that humans do best – telling great stories, strategizing campaigns, and forging meaningful relationships.