10 best (free or cheap) PR tools for brands
PR is one of the most diverse, exciting, and complicated roles out there. It requires a whole bunch of skills, from research and analysis to building relationships (yes, this is a skill and not an easy one!). PR involves numerous roles and can mean almost anything in terms of responsibilities, depending on the company's vision and resources. Usually, the bigger the company is, the more professionals are involved in handling different aspects of Public Relations. But what about startups and SMBs? There, as many of us know all too well, you usually have a single person doing a million different tasks at a time.
In this case, quality PR is impossible (or at least ridiculously hard) without a good set of tools. As you might've guessed, that's what we did: we compiled the list of best cheap or free tools for PR beginners and professionals. Some of these tools are mutually exclusive, so don't worry: you won't need 9 tools to do your job. All of them, however, are worth checking out to know which ones suit you best.
Awario is a social media and web monitoring tool that is useful for Public Relations professionals in several ways: from monitoring your press and media coverage to building relationships with people who've mentioned your brand to finding journalists and bloggers to partner with.
To get started with looking for new PR opportunities, sign up for a free trial and set up an alert for your industry. If you aren't already monitoring your competition, feel free to create a single alert for industry keywords plus your competitor brand names. Make sure to specify your competitors' websites in the Website or web page field and select News/Blogs and Web under Sources.
When the results start coming in, go to your feed and sort mentions by Reach to see mentions from the most popular websites first. Click through the articles and look at domain stats in the right-hand part of the screen to find websites that are relevant (via examining Top SEO keywords), have a reasonable Influence, and enjoy a solid amount of Traffic. Pay attention to the context your competitors get mentioned in, too: do news websites cover their branded research, company news, or something else? Make sure to take notes and draw some inspo from competitors' media coverage.
If you decide it makes sense to work with a journalist, copy their name to look them up on LinkedIn or use the social media and email buttons to connect with the team behind the website.
HARO ( ‘Help A Reporter Out’ ) is the largest free quote-mention service in the English-speaking world, now acquired by Cision. It connects journalists and bloggers with relevant expert sources. Sources (that's you) get an automated email with quote requests from journalists and bloggers every day - an excellent way to find media opportunities and get press coverage.
HARO reaches more than 55,000 journalists and bloggers and is used by most main media outlets. It's a truly great tool for both brands and reporters.
Pricing: HARO's Basic plan is free. Paid options range from just $19 to $149/mo.
One of the hardest tasks are often the ones that seem simple enough. In this case, I'm talking about finding email addresses.
Hunter helps a lot: it finds email addresses across the web via the company’s website domain. You just enter a domain name to launch the search, and the tool lists all the people working in a company with their names and email addresses.
Pricing: The free version lets you run up to 50 monthly searches. Paid plans start at $49 (for Starter) and go up to $399/mo (Enterprise).
Submit.co positions themselves as the place to get press coverage for startups specifically. Basically, it lists different sites, including startup directories, review sites, and communities you can get coverage within or create startup profiles. It's absolutely free, which is obviously a serious advantage and partly explains the outdated design of the website. It's easy to use, however, and it doesn't require any effort on your side apart of the actual submission.
Pricing: Submit is free to use.
For PR professionals, presenting the information is almost as important as having the information. Infogram is an affordable platform with an extremely flexible pricing scheme - there's even a "forever free" option. It allows you to create reports, charts, maps, graphics, and dashboards.
The tool is easy to understand and use; it offers a great variety of templates, pictures, and icons. You can import data even when using the tool for free. It's definitely a good solution for any content that asks for a professional presentation.
Pricing: Infogram's free Basic plan lets you create up to 10 projects. Subscriptions start at $19 and go up to $179/mo.
Another tool for presenting your information in a beautiful way is Canva. It makes it simple for everyone, including people with zero design skills, to create infographics, posters, business cards, flyers, and brochures. You can also use it to edit photos and create visuals for social media.
Pricing: Many of Canva features are free forever, but you can also upgrade to make use of all if its possibilities and resources for $9.95/mo.
This tool specializes in DIY graphic design for small businesses. Venngage specializes in stunning infographic templates you can easily customize yourself with its intuitive drag and drop editor. No design knowledge needed.
PR professionals can also take advantage of unique, professionally-designed templates for social media, logos, presentations, proposals, reports and more. It's free to sign up and use many of the templates.
Pricing: Venngage's free plan lets you create 5 infographics. You can also subscribe to a paid version for more features for $19 (the Pro plan) or $49 (Business) per month.
Visme is another great tool for creating stunning visuals and graphics for conveying information. From presentations and infographics to reports and flyers, you can create any kind of visual you need for your next PR campaign. With tons of documents, presentations, infographics, and other types of templates readily available to customize, you'll be able to quickly and easily put together a branded packet of materials for your team.
Pricing: Visme offers a free for life plan with limited templates and storage, but premium plans start at just $14/month, paid annually.
ContactOut is a simple browser extension that helps you find email addresses and phone numbers of anyone on LinkedIn. They've been around for just over three years and already have thousands of users from a third of the Fortune 500 (like Microsoft, PwC, and Symantec). ContactOut has a truly impressive email database: it finds emails for 75% Linkedin users at a 97% accuracy rate. It’s earned us multiple mentions on the Ahrefs blog as one of the best freemium email outreach tools available.
Pricing: ContactOut offers a free trial. Once the trial is over, you'll need to contact them to request a quote.
JournoLink is a UK-only resource - so far, but that's pretty much its only disadvantage. The software helps you distribute press releases and reach out to bloggers and journalists, and for bloggers and journalists - to find you and reach out. All you have to do is submit a press release, and the tool will find the matching media. All journalists have to do is submit a media request, and it will end up in your hands.
The tool promises that you don't need any PR experience or a huge budget to do the task - JournoLink offers enough tips and tools to help you through. Additionally, JournoLink shows you the calendar that gives you access to upcoming events, such as networking and trade shows, award programs and key news dates to help you out with PR and piggybacking on the news. All that for just £25 a month - a special plan for startups (only applicable, however, if you pay annually).
Pricing: Like many PR tools on this list, JournoLink offers a free version. Paid plans start at £49/mo, with a special deal for startups at £25/mo (billed annually).
There are dozens of tools Public Relations teams can benefit for: from social listening and infographic creation to press release distribution and outreach. Got any other affordable tools you'd to add to this list? Let me know in the comment section!