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Understanding Today’s Media: Insights from Top Journalists

Join this panel with top journalists to explore findings from the 2024 State of the Media Report.

The 2024 State of the Media Report

Get actionable insight from 3,000+ journalists on what they truly want and need from PR teams.

Time to Upgrade? Telltale Signs to Invest in New Public Relations Software

As a public relations professional, you already know the critical role technology and PR software plays in your day-to-day. Media monitoring, social listening, and media relationship management tools help teams understand what's being said about their brands, how to engage their target audience, and connect with the best people to amplify their campaigns.

However, organizations often find themselves stuck using outdated or inefficient tools that can hinder progress, eat up time and resources, and ultimately take a toll on morale. With older PR software, you’re likely missing out on more sophisticated features or missing key tools entirely, leaving you and your team to piece together disparate applications and manually track metrics.

Having the right tools to streamline workflows and surface real-time insights has become essential for benchmarking success and making the most of your resources. Perhaps even more importantly, the right tools can free up your time to do what you went into this career to do: Build relationships, create effective campaigns, and tell stories that make an impact.

When do you know it’s time to upgrade? And how do you make the switch? Here’s a look at the telltale signs, as well as the benefits of new PR software, and tips for getting executive buy-in.

When Is the Right Time to Upgrade Your Public Relations Software?

If you feel your solution is slowing you down, then that’s a big red flag that it’s time to reassess your options.

To understand just how much your current tool is affecting productivity, ask yourself the following questions...

  • Is your PR software easy to navigate? Your platform of choice should be clear and intuitive, with search capabilities designed with user experience in mind. You should be able to find exactly what you need quickly, and ideally, you don’t want to spend too much time in the software itself. It should be built to facilitate key tasks, so it’s a case of jumping into the platform, getting what you need, then jumping back out.
  • Does it provide a seamless workflow? Consider all the time you spend logging in and out of various platforms – it starts to add up. A tool that integrates the essentials – media monitoring, social monitoring, a robust media database, outreach capabilities, and real-time analytics – into one platform can help optimize your PR process from start to finish. CisionOne is one such tool that does this while leveraging the latest technology.
  • Can it integrate with other platforms? Will it connect with other platforms you use – email, CRM, analytics, wire distribution – to ensure an efficient workflow?
  • Does it enable easy collaboration across teams? PR pros rightly preach the value of communication and collaboration, but does their software solution help enable that internally? Instead of having siloed user accounts, it should facilitate cross-project work and visibility within your team.
  • Are you able to extract (and share) the insights you need? PR campaigns don’t operate in a void; you need to be able to measure the success of your efforts (or see where you need to improve). Your PR software needs to be able to bring this data to life in a way that’s easy to digest and make sense of. CisionOne, for example, has an Instant Insights feature that quickly generates reports around the data you’re tracking – including social mentions and media coverage over time – that you can quickly and easily share with colleagues and leadership teams.

The Benefits of Upgrading Your PR Software

Securing the latest PR software may seem like a big investment, but the longer you stick with outdated tech, the more obstacles and restrictions you’ll face as the rest of the PR world moves on.

In the long run, upgrading software will save you time, money, and ensure your team operates efficiently. Furthermore, it will mean you can execute your PR efforts faster, giving you more time to plan strategically for the future and stay competitive.

Features To Look Out for in Your PR Software

An all-in-one public relations software solution should offer features to help facilitate your PR efforts and give a full picture of how they’re performing. Here are the things to consider:

  • Media Monitoring: The backbone of any good PR software. Media monitoring taps into conversations across online, print, and social media, gathering keyword mentions to give you visibility on what’s being said about a brand, product, service or competitor. Your monitoring can also be paired with sentiment analysis, to classify coverage as positive, negative, or neutral. CisionOne also goes a step further with Spark Score, which understands the context behind words and can identify content like sarcasm and fake news.
  • Social Listening: This dives deeper into social media conversations, allowing you to analyze what’s being said about your brand, detect peaks and surface trends in real time. Social listening provides insights beyond traditional monitoring that PR and marketing teams can use to inform outreach to press, influencers, customers and prospects and manage brand reputation.
  • Database: A good media database should provide both a breadth of contacts and information, and an intuitive user-experience so you can quickly and easily find the right information that you need. The CisionOne media database, for example, pushes through 20,000 daily updates to make sure users have access to the latest journalist insight.
  • Outreach: If you’re keen to build on database functionality, look for public relations software that allows you to curate media lists of journalists and influencers, send out releases to those contacts, then track open rates and responses.
  • Reporting and Analytics: Software that offers sophisticated performance metrics and executive-ready reporting makes it easier to show the impact of your efforts and advise on business-critical brand decisions. This type of feature is particularly useful if the C-suite is relying more on your team to inform business decisions (which 92% of comms leaders say is the case, according to the 2024 Global Comms Report).

Finally, don’t underestimate what upgraded PR software can do for your team. If it empowers them to do their jobs more effectively, it can lift morale and mean less staff turnover in the long run. Nothing is more frustrating than working with clunky software that grinds their day to a halt.

The Business Case for Upgrading PR Software 

If, after careful evaluation, you’ve identified the need for better PR software, the next stage is building a business case to bring to your leadership team. That may take a little legwork.

First, do an audit of the true cost of existing monitoring, analysis, and outreach databases across your businesses – including brand teams, regions and even departments – to establish a budget. Ensure that you are looking at line items related to not only platform costs, but those related to time spent by team members managing these solutions.

This monetary cost will of course be a major factor, but it's important to position PR software as an investment – not just in your team and a better workflow, but in the quality of data and analysis you can deliver and act on. In short, this is an investment in an area that will have a direct impact on your brand – and there are risks associated with not upgrading, including:

  • Redundancies: Hours working across different platforms and with different providers can add up. If you don’t have full visibility on what other teams are doing, you could be duplicating work (and even spend) without realizing. 
  • Inconsistency: The methodologies to calculate reach, impressions, and even the underlying technology driving functionality like sentiment analysis, can differ from platform to platform. If you’re working within multiple PR software applications, you may end up producing wildly different reports for the same campaign.
  • Missed opportunities: Relying on your own teams to manually self-report on earned media and social media marketing efforts could see you overlook crucial data. Partnering with a PR software specialist whose platform offers a single source of truth can help demonstrate the effectiveness of a campaign without conflicting results 
  • Administrative challenges: Multiple platforms means dealing with multiple contracts. Keeping track of all these moving pieces introduces costly and unnecessary administrative headaches, which takes time away from putting your strategies into action.
It's important to position PR software as an investment – not just in your team and a better workflow, but in the quality of data and analysis you can deliver and act on.

How to Identify the Right PR Software Vendor

Before approaching your C-suite, make sure you have a good vendor in mind to recommend first. You’ll want to establish a back-and-forth discussion with the provider as you negotiate. Here are some things to consider:

  • Collaborate openly with your partner. They should understand your pain points and unique requirements – a generic “off-the-shelf” solution is rarely sufficient, so make sure it meets your needs and budget.
  • Ask about flexibility. Look for a scalable, adaptable solution that can evolve with your changing goals. The best providers will proactively suggest new ideas and best practices.
  • Look at their current client list. Case studies can also help here. They’ll demonstrate that your partner has a proven track record and has worked with organizations that have similar requirements
  • Think about the human element. The platform's features are only as good as the people behind it. Ensure you will have access to knowledgeable, responsive customer support – and ask for a demo to see how they guide you through the software.

A good public relations software partner will take the time to answer all these questions and understand your specific goals, needs and concerns. Following the conversations, make sure you regroup with your team to share feedback and come to a decision everyone is confident in before seeking final executive buy-in.

Are you ready to upgrade your public relations software?

Find out how CisionOne can help bring together your media monitoring, database, and outreach solutions. Explore the platform or make time for a demo with one of our experts.

About Simon Reynolds
About Simon Reynolds

Simon is the Content Marketing Manager at Cision UK. He worked as a journalist for more than a decade, writing on staff and freelance for Hearst, Dennis, Future and Autovia titles before joining Cision in 2022.