The art of media relations is storytelling. We've heard it all before. But what does that really mean? I'm a firm believer in the fact that there are multiple layers to every story, every media angle, and different mediums in which to tell it. In order to execute a strategic campaign, earned media, paid media and social strategy need to be working together.
Here are five essential, (and free!) tools you should be using to help bridge the gap between the big three - paid media, earned media and social media. Experimentation is key to ensure you have the materials at your disposal to free your story across an array of platforms and channels:
- Piktochart - This easy-to-use tool let's anyone pull together their own shareable, professional, infographic in minutes using several different layouts. You can easily bring in your own graphics or choose from their image bank. Media, consumers and influencers still gravitate towards statistics as a method of sharing their thoughts and validating their opinions. A picture tells the story of a thousand words.
- Pixabay - Is a free image sourcing tool. In a time when budgets are often lean and PR folks wear many hats, it is essential for communications professionals to have a visual eye. Not only does this site offer an easy-to-use search feature, the images are absolutely brilliant. The majority of them do not require any attribution at all. Press releases need to be have a visual component to be set up for success, so here is a cost-effective option for optimizing your release for social, or embedding within the release if you do not have a budget for photography. Make sure you optimize photos for search engines by including your keywords in the image's file name, title, alt- text, and description.
- Muck Rack's Who Shared My Link - This unique tool allows you to input a link to see how many times it has been shared on various social media platforms, and who shared it. It can be a link to a press release, to a YouTube video, news story - you name it. This can help you figure out who is engaging with your material in the social realm and how to involve your brand or spokesperson in the dialogue accordingly. When you include your links make sure that you don't use URL shorteners, but rather post the entire URL in your copy. This helps ensure you are optimizing your release or announcement for SEO.
- #JournoRequest - By now, PR professionals should all be well aware of the benefits of the brilliant service that links sources to journalists - Help a Reporter Out (H.A.R.O) and receive the email notifications twice daily. In a similar vein, there is a hashtag called #JournoRequest, which journalists use to look for potential sources via Twitter, and I recommend following it daily. Even if the journalists are not in your area or the topics aren't relevant, it helps PR people to understand the news cycle and what journalists are interested in at various times, which enables you to better tell your story on behalf of clients.
- Splice - The best editing app for iPhone is now free. No budget for a freelance videography team? It's easier than ever to send the team out into the street and have them try their hand at a homemade piece of video content that you just may able to leverage in a number of different ways - in pitches to media, in a press release, on your clients' social media channels, in a blog post for your website - the possibilities are endless. We are in the story telling business and it's a known a known fact that journalists prefer press releases that contain visual, multimedia elements like photos, video and infographics.