10 free media relations tools
I often get asked what free tools are available to those who are setting up a press office function in their organisation. Here are some of my favourite free tools for PR:
Journalisted is a great for getting some insight into the kind of stories a named journalist has published recently. I find this really useful when planning what national/freelance journalists might be interested in stories and deciding what angle to pitch.
2. News media
The local media works database (part of the News Media Association), is useful for finding regional papers in a particular location and also provides a demographic profile of that area too.
3. Finding journalists using Twitter
Good media relations starts with getting to know journalists and what kind of stories they are interested in. Twitter is a great place gain insight into what interests journalists before you start targeting them with story ideas and press releases. Use Twitter, Social Mention and Followerwonk for finding relevant journalists and Hootsuite or Tweetdeck for managing your own lists of journalists that you might want to follow.
4. Forward features lists
A good press office service needs to be able to respond to journalist enquiries on an ad hoc basis as well as plan for a calendar of proactive news and providing commentary for scheduled editorial features. These features can be called special reports, focus features or spotlight features and they offer a great opportunity for media coverage. Although there are a number of forward features database services available by subscription, most trade media publish their own lists, freely available on their websites or in their media packs.
5. Press Association
This is the national news agency in the UK and Ireland. If you can interest a Press Associataion journalist in writing up your story, then it will go out on the PA newswire and will be seen and noted by journalists and broadcasters who might otherwise be difficult to reach or indifferent to people. So if you have a genuine news story, consider tracking down the specific specialist correspondent at the Press Association and pitch your story to them first (in in the same way that you might do to any other news outlet).
6. Journalist requests on Twitter
If you can’t afford to subscribe to a paid for journalist request services, then use a free request service on Twitter (such as PressQuest or #journorequest) by following relevant journalist request accounts and hashtags.
7. Topical news calendars
It is often easier to put your organisation in to the news, rather than make your organisation the news. This means monitoring topics that are relevant and responding (where appropriate) as well as planning ahead and creating activity to piggyback onto events/reports that will be talked about by the news media. Check out calendars such the Office for National Statistics whose trend reports provide a rich source of stories for news media.
8. Google+ Hangout
Got an announcement to make and want to hold a press event to manage the communication? Very few journalists have time to attend events and they take up considerable time to organise and are expensive too. Instead, consider replacing a press conference with a Google+ Hangout and handle questions with the Live Q & A feature (or simply offer key journalists an interview/go with your spokesperson to see them and give the journalists a more personalised briefing).
If you have great pictures, use an image sharing site such as Flickr which enables you to release images into the public domain under certain usage licenses.
Avoid clogging up journalists’ in boxes with large attachments by storing images on Dropbox and then emailing the journalist a link.
(Picture courtesy of Free Digital Photos – credit to Photostock)