In my last post, I showed you what journalists want to see in a pitch.
While you can go a long way with Google, a spreadsheet and an email account, if you want to truly scale your PR efforts, you will have to invest in PR tools.
PR is by and large a numbers game. Public relations is all about building relationships with a large number of mainstream and online reporters in order to get them to write about relevant developments in your business.
Sure, you can use personalization, A/B testing, etc. to improve your pitch open rate, you will still have to send tens and hundreds of outreach emails to see scalable results.
So which PR outreach tools should you use? How should you use them?
In this post, I’ll show you 20 journalist PR outreach tools you should use today. I will also show you how to use them to maximize your results.
The tools are grouped under different categories. If you’re in a hurry, jump to the category that interests you most:
- Journalist Search Tools
- 1. JustReachOut.io
- 2. HeyPress
- 3. ANewsTip
- 4. MuckRack
- Data Analysis Tools
- 5. CrystalKnows
- 6. FollowerWonk
- 7. Rapportive
- 8. Mention
- Reporter Engagement Tools
- 9. Cision
- 10. Onalytica
- 11. HelpAReporterOut
- 12. PitchEngine
- 13. FullContact
- 14. BuzzStream
- Email Pitch Tools
- 15. VoilaNorbert
- 16. YesWare
- 17. MixMax
- 18. SellHack
- 19. SubjectLine
- 20. FollowUpThen
- 21. RightInbox
- Over to You
These tools help you find reporters/bloggers who have written articles related to your niche. Along with their profile, you can get their email addresses. These specialized search engines are more reliable than Google search as they narrow down the list of journalists to specific media sources that are relevant for your space.
Honorary mention to the PR tool you’re actually reading this article on.
In a nutshell, JustReachOut is a PR tool that features a comprehensive database of journalists and bloggers and their email addresses.
Instead of digging through Google, you can use JRO to quickly find relevant journalists covering your beat.
For instance, searching for “snapchat” shows me a list a journalists writing about Snapchat and related social media topics.
That’s not all – instead of finding email addresses manually, you can just click “Send email pitch” to see the journalist’s email address.
To help you out even more, JRO comes with great collection of pre-installed email templates along with helpful hints on how to use them.
These are templates I’ve used to grow my own startups.
I know I’m not the most impartial party, but JRO can save you hours of time on outreach.
HeyPress is a search engine database of influential tech journalists.
It features hundreds of thousands of articles from a large number of writers on topics ranging from mobile, virtual reality, and AI.
What makes it effective is its singular focus on tech journalism. Instead of a bunch of irrelevant results, you only get journalists writing for established tech outlets.
Here, for instance, are results from Re/Code and Mashable when you search for “virtual reality”:
Comprehensive? Not really. But if you’re a startup in the tech industry, this can be a big time saver.
On the downside, you tend to miss out on non-tech journalists who might cover your business (say, a lifestyle magazine that wants to write about VR goggles).
HeyPress isn’t cheap though. The starting plan (at $15/month) gives you just 30 journalist emails/month.
ANewsTip is minimal Google-like search engine with over 1 million contacts to help you quickly find relevant journalists.
Unlike other search engine tools which return names and emails, ANewsTip sorts results with a chronological timeline of Tweets.
Any journalist that has mentioned your keyword recently will be listed along with their phone number, email address, and Twitter profile.
This is a great way to elicit a response while they’re still interested in the topic.
Besides this, you can also search news articles or specific outlets. Suppose you want to find out all the departments within NYT (such as NYT dining, NYT sports, etc.), you can just enter “New york times” into the search box and see this:
This is very useful if you’re targeting large media organizations.
ANewsTip follows a freemium model and plans start at $49/month.
MuckRack is a platform that connects journalists with businesses. You can use it to search for journalists by location, media outlet or keyword.
It will also help you build outreach lists, monitor what’s being said about your company (or competition), and passively send you alerts when journalists write about topics related to your industry.
Lastly, MuckRack will let you determine the effectiveness of each journalist by providing quantifiable data on who is helping your content reach more people.
This is a powerful, but expensive tool. Stick to cheaper tools until you need something more powerful.
These sophisticated online tools analyze valuable data about journalists/bloggers and display useful profiles about them. The profiles contains everything from history of the journalist to their current media influence. With this information, you can find out the best strategy for influencer communication. You can also find the reporters who are well suited for your niche.
Crystal Knows is a must-have tool in every PR professional’s toolkit. It provides in-depth insight about an influencer that they might not be aware of themselves.
For example, Crystal can reveal an influencer or journalist’s personality, what kind of language or tone they use and the ideal length of message they prefer.
This lets you tailor your outreach to maximize chance of success. By mirroring your tone to the influencer, you have a better chance of building rapport with them.
For example, this is what an influencer personality profile looks like on Crystal:
Crystal plugs directly into Gmail and gives you suggestions when you write an email to a known influencer. It will tell you what kind of tone to use, what kind of length to target, etc.
Here, for instance, is Crystal’s suggestions on emailing Mark Cuba:
This is a very insightful tool for building long-term relationships with influencers. Give it a spin – plans start at just $19/month.
FollowerWonk has long been the go-to tool for finding influeners on Twitter.
Unlike other services that return contact information in the form of an email, FollowerWonk returns Twitter profiles according to the keyword you enter.
With it’s analysis tool, you can then discover information such as when your influencer is most active (best time to tweet to them) and measure their level of influence.
For example, suppose you want to find people blogging about travel. Entering “travel blogger” into FollowerWonk will show you this:
Note the “Social Authority” tab? This lets you know who is worth your time. Also note how it shows you both the follower/following count. Use this to remove mass followers who usually don’t have much influence.
What if you want to discover the relationships between influencers?
You can use FollowerWonk’s “Analyze Users” feature to see common followers among multiple influencers.
FollowerWonk is great for those looking to accelerate their outreach effort. You can get a lot from it for free, but if you want to maximize results, you’ll want to cough up the $29/month price for the pro version.
Rapportive is a FireFox and Chrome extension which pulls LinkedIn data into Gmail.
Before sending an email, you can see data such as a person’s profile picture, location, job, and most importantly if you have any shared connections with them.
This way, if you find any common connections, you can slip this into your outreach message increasing chance of success.
To use it, just enter an email address in the “To:” field. If the address matches up with Rapportive’s database, you’ll see a summary of the contact’s LinkedIn data in the right sidebar:
You’ll also see a list of common contacts below. Use this to get an introduction.
Rapportive is free to use.
Ask any PR professional and they’ll tell you that they swear by Google Alerts.
Mention essentially puts Google Alerts on steroids.
This very powerful tool lets you monitor what’s happening on the web and social media in real-time. It goes deeper than Google Alerts and has tons of filters to keep irrelevant results out.
Use it to monitor results related to your company, a competitor or a keyword.
For instance, here’s how you can create custom alerts for your company. Include/exclude keywords as required to improve quality of results.
Mention is also great for monitoring what people are writing about a company, a Twitter profile or a Facebook page.
Lastly, Mention gives you a lot of control over what kind of sources you want to see in your alerts. If you’ve ever found your Google Alerts filled with spammy results, you’ll love this feature.
I recommend using Mention to keep track of what people are writing about your industry and your competitors. When you see an article you could contribute to, or a new outlet writing about your competitor, jump in and send a pitch.
Once you start using it, you’ll never go back to Google Alerts again.
Plans start at $29/month.
Build a strong network of reporters and bloggers using these tools. Manage your relationship with specific reporters, conduct personalized outreach and map the networks between journalists with these engagement and relationship-building tools. You can also use them to be a source of information for reporters in specific niches – an easy way to build a reciprocal relationship.
Cision is an outreach tool with a database of 1.6 million journalists, bloggers, and social influencers who can help you spread your message.
On top of finding contact information, Cision features strong monitoring and analytics tool that will help you drive an effective outreach campaign.
For example, its monitoring service will let you know when you have been mentioned helping you convert one-sided conversation into a relationship.
This is an expensive tool – plans start at around $5,700/year – and they have a slight bent towards old media.
I recommend it if you are growing fast and have a large in-house PR team with multiple members.
Onalytica is a tool that helps you find and engage with influencers.
This is an end-to-end influencer outreach solution. You can use it to not only find and listen to top influencers in your industry, but also measure your performance and scale your results.
But that’s not all. Onalytica will also help in building relationships by identifying content seeding opportunities (i.e. sharing high quality, personalized content with influencers) and mapping the networks between influencers (Gary Vee reshares tweets by Andrew Warner, who shares tweets by Neil Patel, and so on).
You’ll want to use this tool if you’re ready to scale your influencer marketing. At a starting price of $195/month, it’s not cheap, so reserve it for when you actually have some experience in dealing with influencers.
HelpAReporterOut (HARO) is a service set up for journalists who are looking for contributions from the public on particular issues.
For example, they might be seeking an interview or quote to feature on their piece.
Once you sign-up for HARO, you’ll receive a daily email with a list of questions from reporters and bloggers.
Click a link and you’ll see the rest of the question along with the response requirements.
Once you send a response, the reporter can decide whether she wants to include your response or not.
Getting featured through HARO is a great way to start a relationship with journalists in your niche. It’s also a great way to score quality backlinks.
Keep the relationship going by occasionally sending them insights so that in the future they’ll know exactly who to contact
Furthermore, it lets you better understand what journalists seek in specific niche. You can use questions in HARO emails to figure out what kind of content to create.
Oh and did I tell you that HARO is entirely free to use?
PitchEngine is content creation and management tool for publishing PR messages. It serves as a discovery platform for media contacts and influencers looking for stories.
Think of it as a one-stop repository for all news and brand-related messages related to your business – like a Twitter feed for PR.
Journalists can “follow” your business to keep themselves updated about your work.
For example, this is what Macys’ PitchEngine page looks like:
Each story in this feed serves as a mobile-optimized press release, complete with visuals.
PitchEngine is great for companies that are used to traditional press releases, or if you’re targeting old-media journalists.
If you’re doing outreach at scale, you’ll soon have binders full of journalist and influencer contacts.
You can try managing them through Gmail, but it’s neither efficient, nor does it give you clear context of your relationship.
FullContact is a high-performance, cloud-based contact management tool.
You can sync up to 5 different accounts together (such as Gmail, Outlook and iCloud). Any changes to linked accounts will be reflected in FullContact immediately.
Moreover, FullContact will also pull updated information for each contact from the public web. This way, you can be sure that you have the latest data for each contact.
Besides this, FullContact can also capture contact data from email signatures, further improving contact quality.
You don’t need this tool to run an outreach campaign, but it will make your life a lot easier, especially once you start scaling things up.
So many tools here focus on influencer or journalist outreach.
But what if you wanted to focus mostly on link building?
Buzzstream is a robust platform that doubles as a link-building and outreach tool.
If you’re looking for contact information for prospects in bulk, it’s scraper feature will do the job in just minutes and create a list of results that can be easily organized.
You can then carry out outreach with a host of features that save time such as email templates, automated emails, and open and reply rates.
And when you obtain a link, BuzzStream can even monitor its status for you.
If you’re building links to improve your domain authority or pick up press, you’ll find a useful ally in Buzzstream.
These email management tools help you find the reporter’s email addresses. Once you have the email addresses you can craft and send that perfect pitch email. Research shows journalists prefer to get pitched over the email. These tools also guide you through the entire process of pitching from creating an attractive subject line, to writing well-informed content and then finally scheduling these emails.
You can’t do any journalist and influencer outreach without emails.
VoilaNorbert is a great solution for taking the guess work out of finding emails.
To use it, just head over to the site and enter your prospect’s name and company link and Voila Norbert will do the rest.
VoilaNorbert’s true power, however, is in its bulk and API-based search tool.
Using this, you can either upload a CSV file with your contacts or use the API to find email addresses at scale.
It does struggle a bit with email addresses not tied to any specific domain (such as Yahoo or Gmail emails), but you’ll find it a massive time saver for most PR duties.
You get 50 searches free. After that, pro plans start at $49/month
Finding contact information for outreach is only half the process. You also have to take action and send your email out to influencers and journalists.
With Yesware, you can discover what happens after you hit send.
Yesware will show you data such as email open rates, link clicks, and attachment opens.
If you’re conducting outreach on a large scale, this data can help you define your best message and keep track of responses to ensure successful outreach. You’ll know exactly which of your templates perform best and when to send messages.
It also plugs right into Gmail so you can keep your existing workflow.
Besides this, you can also setup automated drip campaigns to reach busy journalists.
While it’s primarily a sales-focused tool, I find that Yesware is equally effective in PR outreach. It’s also cheap – plans start at just $12 per user/month.
If Yesware is a bit too cumbersome, you’ll love MixMax.
MixMax is a chrome extension which features a suite of productivity tools for Gmail and SalesForce.
It improves your outreach effort by letting you track email opens, schedule meetings, create templates and control when your message is sent.
For example, MixMax might reveal that your recipient never opened your initial outreach email. This will then help you create the appropriate follow-up message.
Because of its email focus, non-sales people might find it easier to use than YesWare for their outreach campaigns.
SellHack is a sales prospecting and email verification tool.
If you’re looking for an email address of a specific individual, SellHack will provide it with as little input as their name and company website URL.
If you already someone’s email address on file, SellHack can even verify its accuracy in bulk.
Its best feature, however, is its prospecting capabilities. SellHack will search through LinkedIn, GitHub, Twitter, Google+ and StackOverflow to find people for a specific company or keyword.
Most people use it for sales prospecting, but it’s equally effective for finding journalists and influencers.
For example, searching for “content marketing” on SellHack shows me this (note all the filtering options):
This is a massive time saver when you’re ready to scale your PR campaign and need to find prospects and verify their email addresses in bulk.
Plans start at $19/month for 150 email credits.
The subject line is the single most important element in your outreach email.
In my last post, I mentioned how 85% of journalists said that they decide whether to open an email or not based on the subject line alone.
SubjectLine is a simple tool that scores your subject line based on its effectiveness.
All you have to do is enter your subject line and you’ll get a score which will help you determine whether you need to make a tweak or not.
Unlike title headline analyzers, this tool looks at your headline for sense of urgency, presence of a number, and character length.
Since your subject line is the first thing seen by recipients, this tool is great for everyone involved in outreach.
For example, here’s the SubjectLine score for a recent email in my inbox with the title – “A quick favor”
Besides the score, you’ll also see suggestions to make the subject line better.
Before sending your emails, try plugging them into SubjectLine’s scoring too. The service is free to use, though you will have to sign-up to get more than 1 scores.
Imagine this: you email a journalist a pitch. The journalist shoots back – “I’m busy; email me in 2 weeks”.
2 weeks later, you forget to email and lose the opportunity forever.
This happens to countless marketers and salespeople every single day.
FollowUpThen helps you avoid this problem by bouncing an email back to your inbox when you need it the most.
To use it, you just need to send the email to FollowUpThen’s custom email addresses.
For example, if you want to bounce the email back to your inbox tomorrow, just send the email to *firstname.lastname@example.org”
The next day, you’ll see the email in your inbox.
This works great if there is a long delay in-between your outreach efforts. If a prospect asks you to email her in two months, just send the email to “email@example.com”
This way you ensure you don’t miss out on any critical actions needed for outreach success.
Here’s an example: I just sent an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and got a confirmation message.
One minute later, the email bounced back to my inbox.
FollowUpThen also has a “response detection” feature. With this, your just need to add -r to an email, like this:
Once activated, FollowUpThen will track whether the email has been replied to. If yes, it will cancel all programmed follow-ups – works great for forgetful recipients.
I highly recommend FollowUpThen for making your to-do list more manageable and cleaning up your inbox. It’s free to use but also has a paid plan starting at just $2/month.
Right Inbox is a chrome extension with 10 different features that supercharges your Gmail. See who opens your emails and clicks your email links from your pitches with their email tracking tool. Right Inbox also allows you to schedule meetings, create templates and control when your message is sent with the send later feature.
There are countless PR tools out there – I showed you 100 of them in another post.
However, not all these tools are equally useful for running a journalist outreach PR campaign.
The 20 tools listed here will help give you all the help you need to get press for your business. Whether it’s finding a journalist’s email, managing your contacts, or sending an effective pitch, you’ll find tools to help you handle all aspects of press relations here.