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PR Tools Rule – Except When They Don’t

This is a guest post by Kellye Crane, founder of Solo PR Pro.

I’ve never met a PR professional who wasn’t a tool fiend. Sometimes it seems our appetite for tools and services that can help us do our jobs better is never-ending.

And why wouldn’t we be in love with tools? For those of us who’ve been working in PR for a while, it’s truly unbelievable what one person can now accomplish versus the days of yore. (Remember standing at the fax machine? FedExing press kits? Proofreading the wire service’s hard copy version of your announcement?) We’ve come a long way, baby!

The right tools and services can help us be more efficient, effective and shave time off our tasks. But this affection for tools shouldn’t become a time-hogging obsession. To hone in on the right tools for you, keep in mind the following:

1. Avoid shiny object syndrome

Shiny object syndrome - Technology and PR

Image from Brian Solis’ e-book “What if PR Stood for People and Relationships?

Shiny object syndrome is an amusing moniker for a real problem in the world of tools: the tendency to get distracted by things that are new and flashy. With so many tools and services vying for our attention, it could easily become a full time job trying to test them all!

Flitting from tool to tool is time consuming, and constantly trying new things will interrupt your processes and workflow. Read the reviews of others before deciding if a new service is worth testing in your environment. And sometimes if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.

2. Tools are for tactics

PR Tools Are for Tactics

Almost exclusively, tools help us execute on the tactical portions of our PR and marketing plans. Your measurable objectives and strategies determine the tactics you’ll use, which should in turn inform the tools you select.

It’s easy to become so preoccupied with finding and using the perfect tools, we neglect to focus on the bigger picture – tools can’t save a bad strategy. How will your success be measured? Use that as your guide, and you’ll have a huge head start toward finding the right services for you.

3. Focus on specific priorities

Focus on Priorities - PR Tools

Related to point #2, everyone’s list of “desert island” tools will be different. It’s hard to resist the lure of a tool that others proclaim as the Holy Grail. But just because you can do something with a tool doesn’t mean you should – it all depends on what will help you achieve your goals.

4. Avoid analysis paralysis

Analysis Paralysis - PR Tools

We’re all being marketed to by so many tools and services, it can be hard to get out of the starting blocks. The marketplace is always changing, so there’s always more to learn about tools for veterans and newbies alike.

No one person can possibly try all the tools and services currently available to us as PR professionals. From media relations and content to productivity and social, there are literally thousands of options.

Fight feelings of overwhelm by consulting others who’ve done much of the legwork for you. Recommendations from trusted sources – such as blog post roundups, reviews and webinars (including the one I’ll be doing for Cision) – can help you narrow the field. You don’t have to try all the tools now – keep a file of these resources and refer to it whenever a new need presents itself to you.

Having earned a central role in the lives of today’s PR professionals, the right tools and services can help us achieve amazing results.

For my unbiased analysis of tools road tested by me and the Solo PR Pro community, join my free webinar on December 11. Register now!

About Brian Conlin

Brian Conlin is a content marketing manager for Cision. A former journalist, he enjoys researching and developing accessible content. When not writing, you will find him watching baseball and college basketball, sampling craft beer and enjoying Baltimore. Find him on Twitter @BrianConlin13.

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