Just because you’re a solo PR pro doesn’t mean you’re in this alone. There’s a whole community of like minded people you can lean on.
In this monthly series, we ask five Solo PR Pro members to share their best tips, tricks and resources for managing their solo business.
5 solo PR pros share their most-used tools
This month, we asked our panel of solo PR pros to share the top tools they use on a daily basis.
Read on for their helpful tips.
1. Nicole Marshall, Curated Communications
I've been operating as a solo for more than five years now, and have always struggled with tracking my time spent on various accounts. For some clients, the hourly ones, this has been a particularly big challenge when it comes invoice time. But also, for those retainer clients, where I have not been charging enough for my work, I haven't been able to show the backup I should in order to ask for a fee increase. I got started with using Toggl this year, and I have finally turned the corner on this. Thanks to the Toggl Track desktop app, I can easily pivot my time tracker in and out of various client accounts as I bounce from assignment to assignment. I believe they offer planning and hiring tools as well, but so far, the Toggl Track tool has been the one changing the game for me in terms of my organization and management this year.
Runners up also go to Canva, Cision, the Adobe Suite, and Quickbooks! Definitely couldn't get through the work week without at least a little support from these guys, too.
2. Laura Frnka-Davis, APR, Principal, LFD Communications
As a solo public relations professional, there are several tools I can’t live without! A reliable media database (Cision) is key and probably one of the most often used PR tools in my toolbox. A file sharing mechanism (DropBox) to share large files like photos and videos is a must and a proofreading tool like Grammarly also comes in handy on a daily basis. A media monitoring system (CustomScoop) and good ole fashioned Google alerts are also in my list of go-tos. As a solo PR professional without a ton to spend on fancy bells and whistles, I’m always looking for the most cost-effective solution to get the job done.
3. Lynn Harris Medcalf, MA, APR, Lynn Harris Medcalf PR Consulting
I am on Microsoft Teams all day. It has really replaced the need to text and sometimes even email for quick answers to questions. It has sped up response time to pending issues considerably. I have the app on my phone and can customize notifications, make calls and even join meetings, although the interface for mobile isn't as user-friendly as the web app. (Microsoft: Get on that). It's much more than video conferencing, it's really a suite of communication and productivity tools all bundled together. Two of my clients use it, so I don’t have to front the cost, which is also a bonus.
4. Michael Ares, MDA Corporate Marketing, LLC
I spend the bulk of my time identifying potential storylines and Op-Ed opportunities in specific market sectors where my clients' thought leadership and subject matter expertise can be brought to bear. That means staying extremely close to the news and following those reporters writing about key trends on an hourly basis throughout the day.
Two “tools” I use constantly in these efforts are LinkedIn and various “as it happens” Google News Alerts.
- I use LinkedIn because I find that site to be a treasure trove of what’s being discussed and by whom. By following leading experts in a given field – including my clients’ competitors and partners – I get access to a running discourse that provides opportunities for my clients to weigh in. I’ve also found that reporters use LinkedIn in much the same manner, multiplying the value of engagement opportunities by expanding my media list of active reporters.
- I use Google News Alerts simply because if it doesn’t register as news on Google, most of my clients’ target audience won’t see it. Yes, it means my in-box is constantly clogged up with a lot of random articles that are of little importance, but deleting them is a small price to pay for those gems that offer a unique opportunity for engagement.
5. Bill Threlkeld, Threlkeld Communications, Inc.
While I still use many of the standard PR tools such as Cision and Muck Rack, I am gravitating more and more towards AI- and SEO-based digital PR tools.
- SEMRush & Moz — For understanding the market dynamics (ie keywords, content themes) that are trending around my clients’ core products and services.
- MarketMuse — An AI-based content development service that optimizes the process of content creation to match up against competitive content such as blogs and thought leadership articles.
- Google Data Studio — A free Google service for building dynamic dashboards and metrics.
- BuzzSumo — a clip and competitive landscape research tool.
We want to hear from you! What are your favorite tools? Leave your response in the comments section below or tag us on social media using #solopr.
Photo credit: Copyright: 123rf