Nov 25

Free tools every PR pro should know about

A person scrolls through images on a laptop computer. Only the person's hands are in frame.

Anyone in our field can attest that being a public relations professional means constant communication and a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Especially in an agency setting, our work is fast-paced and stress-inducing at times. So, anytime we can learn a more efficient way to do something, we’re all ears.

There are a plethora of helpful (and free!) tools out in cyberspace that can help make any PR-pro’s life easier. Here are a few to get you started:

Drag-and-Drop Design

Canva: If you haven’t heard of this site yet – you’re welcome. Now that you have, there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself logging in to use the free tool all the time. Canva’s features are all drag-and-drop, making design projects a bit easier and quicker to tackle. The site includes professional layouts you can start with. It has everything from infographics to posters and business cards to brochures.

You can also start with a blank slate and create something from scratch using Canva’s database of typefaces, icons, royalty-free photos and more. Many Canva features are free to use, but you can also pay to upgrade your account to add storage and access more free photos, illustrations and icons, among other features.

Eye Dropper: I’ve just learned about this tool from my colleague, Chiara, and now I’m passing the knowledge on to you. This Chrome extension makes matching colors a breeze. When you activate the eyedropper tool while you’re browsing the web, you click anywhere to identify any color. In seconds, it’ll provide the color code values in HEX, RGB and HSL.

Perfect Photos

Pixabay: This is my go-to for finding free photos to accompany a social media post or design project. There are more than a million high-quality images, vectors and videos you can download and use for anything, no attribution required.

Although a little creativity in your search terms may be needed to bring up the desired result, it does not take long to pull up a variety of great options. If you aren’t having luck on Pixababy, Pexels is a very similar site with loads of free stock photos you can explore.

Nimble News Clipping

Print Friendly & PDF: This is another Chrome extension. It is designed to automatically remove things like ads when you want to print a web article. You can further prepare a news clip for printing by manually removing images and reducing or increasing the text size to make it fit your needs.

Cam Scanner: I also owe my knowledge of this app to Chiara. Cam Scanner turns pictures into high-resolution PDFs, which is incredibly useful for newspaper clips that are tricky to scan on a printer due to the size and placement of the article.

The app includes an auto-enhancing feature to make your PDFs look clear and sharp. Within seconds, you can export the files in multiple ways or sync to the cloud, making scanning and sharing documents easy as can be.

Automatic Editing

Grammarly: Everybody needs an editor. This AI-powered writing assistant will save you during the times when you’ve spent hours in front of your computer screen by automatically catching grammatical and punctuation mistakes and suggesting corrections.

As another free Chrome extension, it is easy to add to your Chrome browser. When you pay for a premium plan, you unlock readability and vocabulary-enhancing features. I will note, there are some differing opinions about whether to use Grammarly when it comes to data usage and privacy – something to consider before you add it to your repertoire.

Hemingway Editor: This is another great tool that scores readability, using a color-coded system to help you improve your writing. Hemingway Editor highlights adverbs and passive voice, along with phrases that have simpler alternatives and sentences that are hard to read.

Mining for Media Opportunities

HARO: Now acquired by Cision, “Help A Reporter Out” is a free service PR pros can sign up for to receive emails about upcoming stories that you (or your client) could be a source for and secure valuable media coverage.

When you sign up for HARO, you’ll receive emails three times a day with pitching opportunities. If you work in a specific industry or have an expert to promote something specific, you can sign up to receive queries just in that area. In my experience, utilizing HARO does take some time to sift through all the queries to find one that’s a perfect fit. When you do find one, you need to move quickly to pitch your client. There’s a good chance many other “sources” are doing the same thing – there are 800,000+ currently using HARO after all.

What are some of your favorite online tools?

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