The Propel PR Tool Box: Strategies, Tips & PR Solutions

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We have created a comprehensive guide for public relations pros to learn the best practices and tips of the PR trade. The first section deals with media relations and media monitoring, the second section with content marketing tips, and the third section covers data and how to utilize insights and PR analytics. The future of PR is bright and we hope this guide gives you many tools of public relations that will help you master the centuries-old craft we all love.

How to Research and Pitch Media

Your company likely has a compelling story to tell the world. All you need now is someone willing and able to tell it. Getting the right kind of PR can give your company a healthy boost of visibility, generate buzz, and potentially attract qualified leads and customers. Matching the right story to the right reporter is key to landing a media placement that will benefit all parties involved.

Don’t waste time throwing as many pitches as possible to a blanket list of reporters. Instead, choose a reporter with an interest or specialized knowledge about the subject and beat that your story falls under. This way, the story will get in front of the audience your business is targeting.

Finding the right reporter takes time and research. You will also have to craft persuasive pitches and be responsive to reporters’ needs in a timely manner.

The following five effective PR strategies will help you find the right reporter and get your story in front of your target audience.

1. Do your homework

Before you can start pitching, you need to figure out which reporters are worth reaching out to about your story idea. Immerse yourself in reading an enormous amount of different publications — magazines, newspapers, trade journals, blogs, etc. Read every relevant publication that pertains to your industry. Doing so will give you a good sense of which media outlet would be best suited and most likely to feature your story. Eventually, you’ll start to recognize the names of reporters that cover your beat.

2. Track similar stories

Create a spreadsheet to keep track of links to articles that are similar to the kind you’d like to see written about your company along with the authors’ names. Update your journalist database or list regularly so that you’ll be able to keep things organized once you start sending your PR pitch to various publications.

3. Make contact with reporters

Once you pinpoint the reporters whom you want to cover your story, send media a pitch note through email, phone, or a direct message on social media. Their contact info (email and/or twitter handle) will often be featured on the article or publication’s website. Otherwise, a quick Google search will likely dig up what you need. For reaching out to those who may be harder to find, consider investing in a journalist database like Cision, Meltwater or Trendkite — PR tools with extensive media contact information.

4. Emphasize the benefits the reporter will gain from writing the story

Good PR pitching is not just about asking a reporter to write your story. Rather, try to establish a rapport. Be courteous and friendly. It also helps to compliment the reporter or talk about something the reporter is interested in, such as a topic they recently covered. Show that you have done your homework and understand what they’re all about. Next, demonstrate in your pitch note how the story aligns with the reporter’s interests. Be wary of coming off as only trying to advance your own cause. Explain why the story is not one of the hundreds of PR pitches the reporter receives every week. Show them why your story would interest their readers and emphasize that publishing it would be mutually beneficial for both you and the writer.

5. Be responsive in your correspondence and respect your reporters’ time

Reporters often work on tight deadlines. Once they commit to your story, they will depend on timely correspondence to get it done. Make sure to supply them with all the relevant information they need and address any requests for additional information promptly. After you’ve done your part, it’s important to follow up with the reporter, but be careful not to become a nuisance.

Solidifying good relationships with reporters you trust is an essential part of aiding your PR efforts. By establishing a good reputation with writers, you’ll likely receive continued coverage for your company well into the future.

How to Write a Press Release

A successfully executed public relations strategy rests on good press releases. These brief, informative documents share announcements about company events, product releases and updates, and other newsworthy items about your organization.

Press releases do more than keep the media, the industry, and the public informed about your business’s recent developments. They are also intended to pique the curiosity of journalists and inspire them to do further research on the topic. Crafting a press release is often the first step toward landing a feature story in a magazine or a television interview, which can provide a company with greater visibility, awareness, and new customers.

Journalists are flooded with potential stories and pitches on a daily basis. Therefore, it’s crucial that your press release stand out from the pack of people doing PR outreach. While the basic format of a press release is simple, the content should be compelling and interesting.

Here are eight tips for how to write a press release that will help your company stand out, look professional, and attract writers looking for juicy stories.

1. Grab their attention

About eighty percent of readers don’t make it past the headline. A good press release headline should give the reader an idea of what the rest of piece is about and interest them enough to read further. Make sure you use a captivating headline for your press release and in the subject lines of your email when you send the pitch.

2. Get to the point

Respect that reporters are extremely busy and, if you’re lucky, will only read the first sentence and skim the rest. Therefore, be sure to get the message of your press release across right in the beginning. All of the important points should be addressed in the headline and the first few sentences. The subsequent paragraphs should only feature supporting information. Think of it as an inverse pyramid where the information that is of greatest importance is at the top and items of lesser importance are at the bottom.

3. Include data

Avoid excessive hyperbole and embellishment. Reporters are not interested in fluff. Your job is to pack your press release with hard, cold data and relevant statistics that back up your claims and demonstrate the newsworthiness of your company, story, product, or announcement.

4. Proofread carefully

This cannot be stressed enough. Carefully proofread and edit your press release, always! Have a third party look it over before sending it out. Even a seemingly minor typo or grammar mistake can turn off a reporter and convince her not to take you seriously.

5. Include quotes if possible

Including a good quote from someone in the company or close to the product, event or story can add a dash of color as well as a human element to the press release. Reporters can include the quote in the eventual article and will appreciate not having to ask you for one. A quote also breaks up the facts and stats that can make a press release seemingly dry.

6. Include your contact information

Although it may seem obvious, neglecting to include contact information is an unfortunately all-too-common blunder that can sabotage a good press release. Without your contact info, reporters are unable to follow up with you. Don’t forget to include a phone number and email where you or someone else at the company can be reached.

7. One page ideal, two page maximum

Like everyone else, reporters don’t have a lot of time to read, so shorter is usually better. Try to keep your press release down to one page. You can allow yourself a maximum of two pages if necessary, but try not to go over that limit. Imposing such brevity on your press release forces you to keep them cogent — something reporters will appreciate.

8. Provide additional resources for further information

Although you should limit your press release to one or two pages, there is still room for including resources for those would who would like to know more. Feature relevant links where reporters can access additional information. Also, include a link to your company’s website so prospective writers can learn more about you and what you’ve accomplished. Including this additional information is an essential part of the press release. Don’t expect writers to go through the trouble of searching for it on their on their own.

Follow these eight steps and you’re well on your way to writing a readable press release that will catch the attention of writers and encourage them to do a story about you or your business.

 
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How to Write & Submit a Guest Post

Guest posts, or bylined articles, are fantastic for gaining credibility in your industry. Without promoting your company itself, you demonstrate your knowledge and expertise on industry trends and news and even get to show off your superb writing skills.

There are some steps you can take to increase the quality of your byliner and the chances it will end up in one of your desired publications.

1. Know which media outlets you want to pitch

Determining this will help you set your writing style, which should complement the writing style of the publication.

2. Review writing guidelines provided by publications

Do this before and during your writing process to ensure that your piece will qualify as a guest post or article for for the publication.

3. Check whether your topic has been written about before

Doing this will help you decide whether your article idea is fresh and relevant or stale and overdone.

4. Be concise and sharp

Choose your words wisely. An article that is too wordy may lose the attention of the reader.

5. Write a memorable headline

You know as a reader that if the headline doesn’t grab your attention, you likely won’t open the article. The same applies here. Think punchy words, symbols, catch-phrases, numbers, etc.

6. Use stats to back up your writing

Especially in this day in age, where most can google and gather information quickly, it’s crucial to provided research that backs up your ideas.</p><p>While there’s no guarantee your article will be well-received or even published, going through these steps will certainly up those chances!

Blogging Tips

Blogging is one of the central pillars of content marketing and a great way to increase brand awareness and leads. But, like any other marketing channel, a blog will only be successful if you first define the goal, purpose, and target audience before you start. You also need to have a strategy in place for promoting and driving traffic to the blog. Here are 4 steps to help you run a great blogging campaign:

1. Set goals 

What do you hope to achieve with the blog? What is its purpose? The goal(s) of your blog should align with you or your company’s overall goals and mission.

Goals might include:

Financial goals:

  • Promote a company, product or service

  • Gain customers

  • Generate interest among investors

  • Attract talent for your company

Increase brand awareness and reach:

  • Generate subscribers to your email list

  • Gain social media followers

  • Increase profile, stature, and influence

Create community:

  • Create a community of people who share a particular interest, such as technology, art, religion, food, health, etc. that relates to your brand, product or service.

2. Identify the message you want to convey

Align your blog content with the strategic messaging you or your company want to convey in a way that speaks to the interests, passions and needs of your target audience.

3. Target your audience as carefully as possible

Before you can have success with blogging, you must first determine who the blog is for. Therefore, identify your ideal audience and create blog content that will appeal to it. While you have your own particular goals and mission, keep in mind that your content needs to actually be interesting and provide value to your audience. A successful blog often solves problems, informs, entertains, or emotionally engages.

Note: Selecting a target audience doesn’t mean you won’t also be able to reach other audiences, but it will help you in crafting a tone or consistent brand voice that your target audience will especially appreciate.

4. Promote and distribute the blog

No matter how awesome your content is, a blog will not be successful if it can’t be found. Keep SEO best practices in mind when creating your blog content so that your audience will be more likely to come across your posts when searching for relevant keywords. Select topics, themes and keywords, including long-tail keywords, that are of interest to your target audience and include them in your posts. For example, if your intended audience is people who are interested in technology innovation, research which keywords and phrases are most commonly searched for by people with that interest and subtly weave them into your blog content.

Share blog posts to social media alongside enticing images and compelling captions to drive more qualified traffic to your blog. There are many useful tools, both free and low-cost, that can help you optimize and share your blog more effectively. Don’t be afraid to spend money on advertising, such as Facebook ads, to get more eyeballs on your blog posts. With so much content competing for our attention, a little bit of ad spend can go a long way toward gaining momentum for your blog. In addition to publishing on your “owned” blog, try publishing directly on various blog publishing platforms, such as “Medium,” “Linkedin Pulse,” and other platforms that your target audience might be on.

The key to good blogging is having a plan. Setting specific, measurable, and realistic goals, establishing a consistent message, catering to your target audience, and promoting your content so that your audience will see it will position your blog for maximal impact and success.

Incorporate Content Calendars Into Your Earned Media Strategy

It’s time to start tackling those content marketing goals that you may not have gotten around to yet. The first step to achieving these goals is to make a solid plan.

A survey of B2B content marketers published by the Content Marketing Institute found that the most effective marketers are more likely to document their strategy, have a documented editorial mission statement and hold regular meetings. However, only 32 percent of those surveyed have a documented strategy.

Every content marketing strategy needs a calendar, which is used to plan and track content marketing efforts throughout the year. It allows you to plan content around key dates, see gaps in your strategy and align your content with overall marketing goals. A content calendar is crucial to any successful content marketing campaign. Here are 6 tips to get you there:

1. Know your audiences
You have different stakeholders and customer types, with different interests and content needs. For example, if you’re publishing content to promote education technology, your different audiences could include administrators, educators, parents and other decision makers.

Identify your various audiences and determine what’s most important to each. Then, set content themes for each group based on these interests.

2. Set goals
Your goals will serve as the cornerstone for your content calendar. They should influence what you publish and when. The goals dictate content themes, the types of content you create and which media outlets you target. For example, if one of your goals is to attract great talent, create a piece of content that showcases how fun it is to work at your company. If another goal is to attract customers, highlight the great work you've done for current clients.

3. Identify mediums
Your content creation doesn’t have to start from scratch. What do you already have that you can build from?
Turn interesting data you have into infographics and reports, and whitepapers into a series of blog posts. Refurbish old blog posts with new information and recirculate. Explain or expand on all the above with videos. Interview in-house experts for authoritative opinion-based pieces. Your company has a wealth of knowledge – utilize the various resources you already have to create a nice mix of content!

4. Make the plan
Use an excel spreadsheet or other tracking tool to keep your content organized throughout the year. For each piece of content, include the date it will be published, the theme or working title, the content medium, the target audience, who will write the content, the goal it relates to, and its status throughout the process.

To keep organized, you may also want to track where the content will be published, images that will be used, and keywords and other SEO information. The more details you include in your content calendar, the easier it will be to draft each piece of content throughout the year.

5. Plan for change
Leave some room to adapt to new ideas and strategies as the year goes on. Breaking news and current events in your industry should be covered as they occur and may require you to change your plan. Keep an eye on your metrics throughout the year as well as certain types of content and topics may not perform as well as you expect -- which means you may want to adjust mid-course.

In addition, watch your competitors. What are they doing in terms of content marketing? Are they doing anything new or groundbreaking you can make your own? You may need to change your content calendar to stay on top of the competition.

6. Work ahead
Your plan is set, and now it’s time to act on it. Stick to your calendar by staying ahead of dates and deadlines as best you can. Plan and draft content one to two months in advance of the publish date. This way, deadlines don’t snowball and posts aren’t backlogged.

Creating a content calendar seems like quite an undertaking, but it can help set up your PR and marketing efforts for success throughout the year. The results are worth the effort. Wishing you luck and happy planning!

 
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The Future of PR: How to Use Data in Your PR Strategy

While the Internet has only been mainstream for about twenty years, we are now utterly saturated and bombarded with online content. The amount of information out there is overwhelming!

Using insights mined from big data, PR pros can sift through the noise and break up vast amounts of information into manageable chunks that will help them make smarter business decisions and craft compelling brand narratives.

The measuring sticks of big data are volume, variety and velocity. The rise of social media and other data-capture methods has provided organizations with an almost frightening amount of information about their audiences. This allows companies to thoroughly understand their target markets and message in a way that will be more likely to appeal to them.

For PR pros looking to turn big data into big public relations stories that catch the attention of prospects and inspire them to engage with their companies in a meaningful way, here are three types of data to look for:

1. Curated data

This is information culled from pre-existing studies and reports around the web. These studies usually come from large organizations that produce reports about consumer behavior, such as Nielsen, nonprofits, government agencies, or academic institutions.

PR pros can utilize these reports to their advantage and by analyzing the aspects that are important to their businesses. Accessing this data will only serve a practical purpose if an organization knows how to interpret it and implement accordingly.

2. Proprietary data

This information comes from numbers collected in-house through technology, surveys, focus-groups, or an internal user base. Since this data is gathered internally, it’s not available anywhere else (unless the organization chooses to publish it). Organizations can use this data to better understand what is working, what is not, and how to optimize their performance going forward.

3. Commissioned data

Sometimes an organization will require data that is more specific to its purposes than what is available through curated data, but has not gleaned any meaningful insights through proprietary information. That is when it may make sense to use commissioned data, which is information generated through partnerships with third parties, such as market-research companies, polls and customer surveys.

While data can help companies come up with stories worth telling about their brands or their products, here are some other ways entrepreneurs can utilize big data in their PR efforts:

1. Understanding target markets

Big data has made information about consumers and their behavior more widely available than ever before. PR professionals can use this information to better understand their company’s target audiences -- their needs, concerns, and what products or services are of value to them. When coming up with a story angle that will resonate with or be of interest to the target market, it’s essential to understand the audience.

2. Predicting and preventing crisis

Using various tools that collect and sort vast amounts of data, entrepreneurs can gain a solid picture of how their companies are perceived in the marketplace. Studying things like brand mentions gathered from around the Internet, customer reviews, and social media comments, companies can find out who their satisfied customers and users are, and identify pain points or potential PR disasters before they happen. This allows companies to better manage their reputations and more easily diffuse crises. Paying attention to the data can also help entrepreneurs keep tabs on the competition and remain one step ahead.

3. Following and analyzing market trends

Using information crunched by big data, entrepreneurs can stay abreast of industry trends as well as trends in the wider market. This allows PR professionals to keep up with changes, adapt in real time, and formulate strategies that use current trends to their advantage.

New Propel Research Shows the Best Days and Times to Pitch Reporters

PRESS RELEASE

Journalists Half As Likely to Respond to PR Pitches Sent Thursday or Friday

Research from Propel reveals 12-1 PM is best time to pitch reporters

Tel Aviv, Israel – Propel, the PR productivity platform, has released research that shows reporters are 90 percent more likely to open a PR pitch sent between 12-1 PM rather than 9-10 AM. The second most effective hour to pitch is 6-7 PM, when pitches are 40 percent more likely to be opened than those sent between 9-10 AM. The findings shatter a common misconception that pitching reporters first thing in the morning is a best practice.

Pitches sent Monday through Wednesday are almost double as likely to get a response than those sent on Thursday or Friday. Interestingly, Thursday is the second most active pitching day of the week (25 percent of the week’s pitches), despite reporters’ low engagement with Thursday pitches.

 
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The Propel study additionally reveals that 54 percent of email pitches are not opened at all. For pitches that are opened by journalists, more than half are opened within the first hour of receipt, and 80 percent are opened at some point the same day. After the first day, without following-up, the odds of a pitch being opened plummet to less than one in 10.

“The data is clear. PR professionals should adjust their pitching habits and send more pitches on Tuesday and Wednesday, and less on Thursday and Friday. Pitches are 50 percent more likely to get opened, and 100 percent more likely to be responded to, if sent Tuesday or Wednesday!” said Propel co-founder and CEO Zach Cutler. “Following the data and pitching during the most engaged days and times can significantly increase effectiveness of media relations efforts.”

Below is a breakdown of the daily open rate of pitches sent:

  • Monday: 43 percent of pitches sent are opened

  • Tuesday: 62 percent of pitches sent are opened

  • Wednesday: 59 percent of pitches sent are opened

  • Thursday: 39 percent of pitches sent are opened

  • Friday: 35 percent of pitches sent are opened

 
This graph shows how long it takes reporters to open pitches.

This graph shows how long it takes reporters to open pitches.

 

The Propel pitching effectiveness study is based on 2,150 unique PR pitches emailed to reporters in 2019 across dozens of users from a variety of PR agencies.



Why PR Productivity Tools are the New Must-Have for PR Agencies

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PR agencies have a very bright future to look forward to. The sector is growing at breakneck speed, and will be worth $20 billion by 2020. The importance of communications and media is growing continuously. In terms of public relations - the mediums, methods, and opportunities are at a level we’ve never seen before.

And yet with all these changes, the earned media sector, which usually comprises at least 50% of a PR agency‘s efforts, hasn’t innovated at nearly the rate of owned media and paid media.

A Historical Look at Innovation

Thousands of platforms, from giants like Google to an abundance of startups, comprehensively address the needs of the paid and owned media industries. Marketing and advertising have become such data-driven and technology optimized disciplines that they are hardly recognizable from what they were a decade ago.

The earned media sector, on the other hand, has largely not changed in the last five decades. The legacy database offerings serving PR agencies haven’t undergone the same sea-change of innovation that their brethren in the paid and owned media sectors have--though that is starting to change.

More surprisingly, nine out of 10 agencies I speak to don’t use a CRM to manage their thousands upon thousands of reporter contacts and hundreds of media lists. Rather, all of this lives within Excel or Google Sheets for the vast majority of agencies today.

A Tremendous Opportunity For the Future

Strikingly, though, most agencies do use a CRM to manage their business development efforts - even though the volume of new business leads can’t compare to the number of influencers being handled.

Imagine a digital ad firm not using analytics to understand which ads are performing best. Or imagine a content studio lacking tools such as Hootsuite or Contently - which significantly streamline their workflow and help them accomplish more and understand what’s resonating.

The good news for PR agencies is that a new product category that can materially improve their workflow and results has emerged: PR productivity technology.

PR productivity technology is set to transform the industry, much like the effect Salesforce, Marketo and Hubspot had on the marketing and sales industries a decade ago.

The Benefits of PR Productivity Tools

PR productivity tools enable agencies to manage all of their contacts and workflows smartly, under one roof, while giving invaluable insights and data points into what’s working and where to hone in efforts.

Imagine having the ability to see the firm-wide correspondence with a single reporter or outlet.  Having that knowledge is priceless in helping firms manage each reporter relationship in a more strategic way.

What if PR teams could have the open, response and publishing rate - at the individual level, the firm aggregate, and the global average - for every journalist? PR productivity technology puts this powerful benchmark in the hands of PR firms to understand how their pitching scores up against the wider averages, and whether a strategy shift or tweaking is necessary.

Think about the benefits of having practical pitching tools like mail merge, templates, and scheduled follow-ups right within Gmail and Outlook that enable you to email reporters in less time, while still personalizing and customizing each message to the same degree.

Visualize a kanban board where you can see the real-time status of every media opportunity in your pipeline, and the ability to know who opened your email and when.

How nice would it be to create an activity report 10X faster? Or have real-time reports that show you pitching volume and effectiveness across every campaign, account and team member?

All of these benefits are available to PR agencies today through PR productivity tools. The best part is that all of these small efficiency improvements together can lead to significant uptick in earned media results, client satisfaction/retention, and profitability of PR agencies.

To learn more about Propel, the leading PR productivity platform, click here to schedule a demo.

Here’s How Your PR Agency Can Increase Its Profitability

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Great PR firms set themselves aside from mediocre ones through one key financial metric: profitability. High profitability means things are running well - clients are happy, employees are performing, retention is strong and the ratio of staff expenses to fee income is healthy.

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PR firms with 10-15% profitability are doing okay. Those with 20% profitability are very healthy. And the fortunate few who make it to 25% or higher profitability are killing it. For such firms, each dollar the firm collects in fees can be broken down by 50 cents going towards labor, 25 cents going towards overhead, and the remaining 25 cents being profit.

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Firms with this level of profitability do so well because they can invest significant money back in the business to grow, improve technology, roll out new services, expand geographies, and hire the best talent. This investment reinforces their advantage and the cycle continues, allowing the firm to further set itself apart from competition and strengthen its core.

I sold my firm, Cutler PR, one year ago and so I am quite familiar with the immense importance of profitability in PR agency M&A discussions.

Firms with 25% or higher profitability are much more likely to get acquired for healthy sums of money. For example, if an agency has 25% profit margin, their value to acquirers will likely be 1.25X annual revenue or 5X EBITDA.

So, for all of these reasons, and more, increasing profitability of your PR agency is probably the most important thing you can do as a senior executive or owner of the firm. There are few things, though, that agencies can actually do to increase their profitability. One important measure that can be taken is investing in tools and technology that improve productivity.

Earned Media Productivity Tools Are a New Must-Have

A majority of PR firms find that the most unpredictable and challenging service they offer is media relations. It is therefore particularly in this area -  earned media - that new and innovative technologies can help firms make a significant difference in their profitability.

Earned media productivity technologies allow firms to increase their client load by 10-15% without hiring additional resources. And that doesn’t mean burning out your existing team members! Because we all know that is not worth it. Rather, the increase in client load without hiring more people is possible due to the automation, workflow management and efficiency that these technologies bring to teams and individuals. You can simply accomplish more in less time and with less hands on board.

Because 50 cents of every revenue dollar goes towards labor costs for most firms, being able to increase client load by 10-15% means increasing annual profit margin of your media relations revenue center by 5-7.5%. If your media relations revenue center is currently generating 10 cents per dollar, this means an earned media productivity platform can help you half again or nearly double your profit margin to 15-17.5 cents per dollar.

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If your media relations revenue center is generating 20 cents profit per dollar, you can increase that by 5-7.5 cents per dollar, thereby reaching 25-27.5 cents per dollar. That means an increase of a quarter to over a third in your profit margin, simply by adopting earned media productivity technology.

This means that if your firm has a 20% profit margin and $5 million in annual fee income for media relations services, earned media productivity technology can help you generate anywhere from $250,000-375,000 in additional profit per year due to increasing account load by 10-15% without having to hire additional staff.

Earned media productivity tools additionally help firms increase client retention by 2-4% annually, which boosts profitability further. If your firm has 50 clients, a 2% increase in client retention means holding onto an additional client per year that would have otherwise been lost to attrition. Likewise, a 4% increase in client retention means holding onto an additional two clients per year. If your average monthly retainer is $15,000, this means $180,000-360,000 in additional revenue per year due to increased retention.

When combining impact from account load increase and client retention increase, a $5 million revenue firm can collectively generate an additional $430,000-735,000 in profit annually.

To sum up, adopting and earned media productivity tool can help your agency increase profitability by 25-75% per year. These increases in profit can be a total game changer and take a firm from mediocrity to excellence.

Investing in any technology has some upfront education and learning curve. The payoff, though is remarkable.

To learn more about Propel, the earned media productivity platform, and how it can transform your firm’s profitability, please schedule a demo by clicking here..


It’s Time for PR to Join the Data Revolution

The public relations industry has come a long way toward being more accountable, efficient, and productive. As someone who has worked in the PR industry for over a decade, I’m very proud of the progress that has been made so far. In the past years, various tools, methodologies, and best practices have been developed by people who were passionately dedicated to the craft. And yet, it is my belief that we could be doing more.

I believe that all industries, PR included, must innovate. Today, we must utilize big data and the technology at our disposal to deliver maximum value to our clients if we wish to remain relevant over the next hundred years.

Unlike advertising which has been disrupted by digital technology with the advent of Google AdWords, Facebook advertisements, martech platforms, and more, PR has always been relatively soft when it comes to technology adoption and the ability to gain insights and optimize efforts based on data.

The power of data has transformed nearly every industry on earth, making businesses more efficient, productive, and better able to serve their customers.

The PR Process

The outcomes of PR campaigns may be hard to track (although not totally impossible), but the processes of PR are not. As PR pros, I believe we have a responsibility to ourselves and to our clients to know if our workflow, methods, resources, and employees are operating at peak efficiency.

PR teams that are serious about becoming more data-driven should be measuring the following:

  • Agency Performance

  • Account Performance

  • Pitch Performance

  • Employee Performance

If the above seems frustratingly vague I understand. Rest assured, comprehensive data analytics and management tools like Propel, a CRM designed specifically for PR firms, turn that vagueness into measurable goals, metrics and KPIs. More importantly, these platforms can give you the data and insights you need to make better decisions and ultimately become a more capable and responsible PR professional.

Steps toward becoming data-driven:

There are many areas of PR where it would help to know the data, but the first place where you’d probably want to apply data-driven tactics is your pitch process.

The work of generating positive media coverage is fundamental to PR. A tremendous amount of effort goes into outreach and cultivating relationships with reporters. But, if you don’t have accurate ways of measuring the returns of your efforts, much of that time will be spent unproductively. Furthermore, you’ll have no way of knowing what actions are a good use of your time and what tactics amount to nothing.  

A product like Propel can help you understand what’s going on under the surface by measuring data points such as:

  • Open Rate: How many email pitches are opened by targeted reporters?

  • Response Rate: How often do reporters respond to your emails?

  • Secure Rate: How often does actual coverage result from these interactions?

  • Allocation of resources: How many employee-hours is it taking to achieve these results?

Numerous data-measurement opportunities exist in PR. The above mentioned ones are only the tip of the iceberg. There is so much more that’s possible once the industry takes advantage of the transformative power of big data, AI, and machine learning.

How to Get Insights Using the Dashboard

One of the central missions of Propel is giving you a deep understanding of what's working and what can be improved. On the dashboard, you can find a wide array of analytics that can give you insights about the success of campaigns, employees and accounts overall. Our graphs include:

  • Pitching Volume & Effectiveness
  • Batting Averages
  • Number of Articles Published
  • Propel Factor/Article Score
  • Leading Contacts
  • SEO Value

To change the date range, click on the time period drop-down and select the range you are interested to analyze.

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To filter by account, pitching initiative or employee, click on the "View" drop-down.

If you want to get additional training on how to use the dashboard, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com

How to Secure More Opportunities with the Propel Story Funnel

Click on the "Story Funnel" tab to see your entire pipeline of opportunities, broken down by pitches "sent," "opened," "responded," "materials/interview," "article secured," "article published," and "not interested." Click on the reporter's name to see their profile page – which includes your entire history of communication with them, their contact info, and any notes you may have.

Click on the "Story Funnel" tab to see your entire pipeline of opportunities, broken down by pitches "sent," "opened," "responded," "materials/interview," "article secured," "article published," and "not interested." Click on the reporter's name to see their profile page – which includes your entire history of communication with them, their contact info, and any notes you may have.

Click on the  "Add new card" button on the top-right to create an opportunity that was initiated off-line.

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You can filter the funnel by user, account, or pitching initiative.

You can filter the funnel by user, account, or pitching initiative.

To update a status of an opportunity, simply drag and drop from one column to another. You can also click on the arrow in the top right corner of the card and select which column you want to move that card into.

To update a status of an opportunity, simply drag and drop from one column to another. You can also click on the arrow in the top right corner of the card and select which column you want to move that card into.

After an article publishes, update the card status to "Article Published"  – at which point a pop-up box will appear. Fill in the URL and publishing date so that the article will be added to the dashboard and reports.

After an article publishes, update the card status to "Article Published"&nbsp; – at which point a pop-up box will appear. Fill in the URL and publishing date so that the article will be added to the dashboard and reports.

Phew, that's it! You are ready to start pitching and managing your team's PR efforts with Propel. If you have any question or would like to schedule a training session to learn more advanced tricks, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com.

How to Navigate Your Media Lists

Click on "Media Lists" in the navigation bar on the left

Find the media list you want to start pitching by either filtering by account or searching by media list name.

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Click on the numbers to open the media list and on the pencil to add contacts from the database.

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NOTE: numbers represent the total contacts that were already pitched out of the total contacts on the list.

Find the contact you want to pitch using the sort and/or search bar. Filter contacts to see just the ones that are assigned to you, not already pitched, etc.

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Remove contacts from the list or assign users to pitch them.

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Pitch by clicking on an envelope - your email client will be opened.

* If you are using Gmail and it doesn't automatically open, we recommend reading the following tutorial: Mac users, Windows users.

Phew, that's it! You are ready to start pitching and managing your team's PR efforts with Propel. If you have any question or would like to schedule a training session to learn more advanced tricks, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com.

How to Create a New Account

 First, go to the Accounts section and click on "Add New Account".

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NOTE: Accounts are clients.

Enter basic information about the account. If you are in a hurry, you can click  "Finish" after completing only the few required fields. If you have a few minutes, it is recommended to complete the next steps in order to get the most out of Propel.

Enter basic information about the account. If you are in a hurry,&nbsp;you can click&nbsp; "Finish" after completing only the few required fields. If you have a few minutes, it is recommended to complete the next steps in order to get the most out of Propel.

Enter website and social media links for the account.

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NOTE: Although these fields are not mandatory, Propel uses them in order to identify backlinks in articles published when calculating the Propel Factor and SEO Value. Therefore, in order to get the most out of Propel, it is recommended to at least enter the account's website address when setting up the account.

 

Assign existing users (i.e. team members) or add new users to the account. By adding users to an account you give them access to see data and activity related to that account.

Assign existing users (i.e. team members) or add new users to the account. By adding users to an account you give them access to see data and activity related to that account.

Complete the  "Audience" screen by entering the business type, relevant industries, and media outlets of interest. If you don't know which media outlets are most relevant, or you prefer to not complete this field, Propel will still work fine. However, the more information you enter here, the more LORA – Propel AI Engine will be able to help you by making intelligent recommendations for which reporters to pitch.

Complete the&nbsp; "Audience" screen by entering the business type, relevant industries, and media outlets of interest. If you don't know which media outlets are most relevant, or you prefer to not complete this field, Propel will still work fine. However, the more information you enter here, the more LORA –&nbsp;Propel AI Engine will be able to help you by making intelligent recommendations for which reporters to pitch.

Enter any key messages related to that account. Messages should be a few words. For example, if you are representing a ridesharing app, a sample message may be "sharing economy transportation is more affordable."  Then, add any one-two word tags related to that account. In the ridesharing example, sample tags may be  "urban transportation," "sharing economy,"  "smart city,"  "on-demand transportation," etc.

Propel will use this data to help you build media lists more efficiently and to evaluate the quality of your coverage.

Enter any key messages related to that account. Messages should be a few words. For example, if you are representing a ridesharing app, a sample message may be "sharing economy transportation is more affordable."&nbsp; Then, add any one-two word tags related to that account. In the ridesharing example, sample tags may be&nbsp; "urban transportation," "sharing economy,"&nbsp; "smart city,"&nbsp; "on-demand transportation," etc.  Propel will use this data to help you build media lists more efficiently and to evaluate the quality of your coverage.  Finally, you can add a logo for the account.  Click finish when you are done. Congrats – you have created an account!&nbsp;You can edit any of this information at any time, by clicking on the account name and editing any of the steps.

Finally, you can add a logo for the account.

Click finish when you are done. Congrats – you have created an account! You can edit any of this information at any time, by clicking on the account name and editing any of the steps.

If you have any question or would like to schedule a training session to learn more advanced tricks, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com.

How to Create a Pitching Initiative

Click on the "Pitch" button on the top right corner of your screen. This will prompt you to create a  "Pitching Initiative", which is a specific campaign/pitching effort within an account. For example, this may be a news announcement for a specific account, or a bylined article. It could also be a specific newsjacking effort, a trend story pitch, or a variety of other activities.

Click on the "Pitch" button on the top right corner of your screen. This will prompt you to create a&nbsp; "Pitching Initiative", which is a specific campaign/pitching effort within an account. For example, this may be a news announcement for a specific account, or a bylined article. It could also be a specific newsjacking effort, a trend story pitch, or a variety of other activities.

Give the pitching initiative a name, enter which account it is for, and choose the type. In addition, you can pick a publishing deadline for time sensitive announcements or you can select "No Deadline Required" for ongoing/evergreen initiatives.

Give the pitching initiative a name, enter which account it is for, and choose the type.&nbsp;In addition, you can pick a publishing deadline for time sensitive announcements or you can select "No Deadline Required" for ongoing/evergreen initiatives.

Select any key messages that are relevant for this pitching initiative, or add new ones. This is optional. It enables Propel to help you evaluate pitching initiative effectiveness later.

Select any key messages that are relevant for this pitching initiative, or add new ones. This is optional. It enables Propel to help you evaluate pitching initiative effectiveness later.

Set milestones/tasks for the pitching initiative. This list is automatically generated based on the pitching initiative type you selected and you can add/remove stages based on your preference.

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NOTE: This is an optional task management feature that allows managers and team leaders to set deadlines and assign responsibility for the various stages within a pitching initiative.

 

Enter any specific search phrases relevant to the pitching initiative, which will allow Propel to help you discover relevant reporters for this pitching initiative. You can also enter which tier levels you are interested in getting coverage in for this pitching initiative. Both of these are optional. Lastly, choose whether you'd like to copy an existing media list or create a new one. If you're just getting started with Propel, you will want to create a new one.

Enter any specific search phrases relevant to the pitching initiative, which will allow Propel to help you discover relevant reporters for this pitching initiative. You can also enter which tier levels you are interested in getting coverage in for this pitching initiative. Both of these are optional. Lastly, choose whether you'd like to copy an existing media list or create a new one. If you're just getting started with Propel, you will want to create a new one.  You are ready to go - click "Finish &amp; Go to media list".

You are ready to go - click "Finish & Go to media list".

If you have any question or would like to schedule a training session to learn more advanced tricks, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com.

Getting Started with Propel

Welcome to Propel!

We are really excited to introduce you to Propel! We built Propel to improve the lives of media relations pros. We are media relations experts that have worked in PR for years and chat with hundreds of PR firms to learn the problems they are facing and help them improve their agencies with technology.

First, you'll want to download our Gmail Chrome Extension. If you don't use Gmail, don't worry! You can still use Propel – you'll just need to set up DNS records.

Then, you'll want to learn the basics on all of the features we provide: 

How to Pitch with the Propel Gmail Plug-In

How to Secure More Opportunities with Story Funnel

How to Get Insights Using the Dashboard

How to Create a New Account

How to Create a Pitching Initiative

How to Navigate Your Media Lists

 

Pitching With the Propel Gmail Plug-In

The Propel Gmail Plug-In* allows you to pitch reporters and influencers directly from your Gmail inbox. All you need to do is download our Chrome extension.

* Propel Gmail Plug-In works best using the new Gmail User Interface.

Log-in

1) Click on the Propel logo on the top-right cornet, enter your user credentials and click login.

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2) If the login was successful the Propel icon will change it’s color and your name and notifications will appear.

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Pitch

1) After installing the plug-in, you can start pitching by simply clicking on the Propel logo (next to the send button) in a compose new message window.

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2) Then you will be asked to select a pitching initiative. You can either pick from the most frequently used or search for a pitching initiative by entering the pitching initiative or account name. If the pitching initiative doesn't exist in Propel yet - click "Create new" to add it.

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3) To add recipients, you can either enter their contact details manually in the “To” field or click on access your Propel Media List directly from Gmail by clicking on the “Media "List” button.

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4) Using the media list you can select which contacts you'd like to pitch now by clicking the checkbox next to their name. You can search reporters by media outlet and filter by their status in the specific media list.

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5) If you select more than one recipient, each of the recipients will receive a separate email, which you can personalize by using Propel's mail merge feature. Do this by clicking on "Mail Merge" and selecting the variable field you desire – options include first name, last name and publication name, etc.

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*NOTE: Mail merge does have two limitations - First, you must send the first email using the Propel extension and not from your mobile device or a different browser. Second, no attachments are allowed in the first email when pitching multiple contacts at the same time. If you want to attach a press release or media kit we recommend including a google drive or dropbox link instead.

6) Propel also allows you to save and share templates for later use to save time and improve the quality of your pitches and follow-ups. To save a template, write a personalized message using the mail merge function, implement inline images and click “Templates\Save Template” when you are done. To load a template, click “Templates” and select the one you want to use.

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7) You can set a reminder to follow-up with the contact(s) you are pitching to if you don't hear back from them in a specific time period or by a specific date.  

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8) The last step of pitching will be sending the email. You have two options: click “Send” in order to send the email(s) now or “Send Later” in order to schedule the email to be sent at a later time. Selecting one of the morning options will send the email between 9 to 10 am on local sender timezone. After clicking on the “Send Later” button the email will automatically saved as draft and will be sent at the selected time. To cancel or change timing go to the draft folder and open the relevant thread.

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Step 2 - Track

Now that you have pitched, the plug-in helps you track responses and organize all of your reporter interest in a clear way that helps you prevent opportunities falling through the cracks. 

1) Click on the Propel logo to check if you have follow-up reminders due, which are represented by the number in the red circle. Then, click on the notification to go directly to your Propel's follow-up folder.

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2) Click on the Propel folder in your Gmail inbox to see all of your ongoing communications with reporters. Here, you can filter by account, pitching initiative or status (sent, opened, responded, etc.). For example, you can easily see all of your pitches that were opened and not yet responded, in order to follow-up, or the ones that are awaiting materials or an interview in order to remind you to touch base. 

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3) Finally, every time you hear back from a reporter, you can update the story funnel status or set yourself a new follow-up reminder from the open mail thread itself.

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You can also track and organize all of your reporter opportunities through the Propel Story Funnel in the web app.

I hope this tutorial helps! If you have any additional questions or want to schedule a 15 minute 1-on-1 training session, please reach out to me at idan@propelmypr.com

Forbes Magazine names Propel one of the "15 Technology Companies to Watch in 2018"

We are humbled to be named by Forbes as one of "15 Technology Companies to Watch in 2018".

The PR industry has adopted technology at a snail’s pace compared to the rest of the marketing ecosystem. Propel, a recently launched AI-driven CRM for PR, is on a mission to help the PR industry innovate. The platform increases efficiency of public relations workers. By collecting loads of data and leveraging wisdom of the crowd, Propel enables PR teams – either agency or in-house – to understand which journalists are relevant, which pitches are resonating, and which campaigns are working. Propel offers actionable insights to help users hone in on the right messages and reporters, and improve quality and quantity of coverage. The CRM also offers powerful streamlining and organizational tools that help users more easily manage their workload, as well as a dashboard for managers that makes clear which employees and campaigns are most effective. The Tel Aviv-based company launched this year and is in the midst of a funding round.