What’s in Your New PR Toolkit?

In 2003, my book “The New PR Toolkit” was published by Prentice Hall. I co-authored this manuscript with a very talented journalist, Thomas DeLoughry, who at the time was the editor of Internet Week.  Our goal was to present to PR professionals a better way to develop and implement online media relations strategies, from both a PR professional and an editor’s point of view. To this day, it was one of my favorite projects and a book that I believe did a good job educating PR people on early web PR (or web 1.0) best practices.

Last night I took a stroll down memory lane to identify the core elements of, what I called at the time, my “PR toolkit.” These were the tools that Tom and I felt helped PR professionals to succeed with their online PR initiatives and relationship building efforts. What were Tom and I focusing on back then?  Here’s the list:

  • Online research:  surveys, polls and online focus panels.
  • Smarter e-mail communication to journalists, which produced better results.
  • E-Newsletters to build better relationships with the media and other constituents.
  • Monitoring tools to track online news stories, competitor initiatives and editorial coverage.
  • Webcasts including training seminars, Town Hall meetings and speaking engagements/seminars.
  • Crisis websites that mirrored public sites and could be switched on “live” if crisis struck.
  • Online newsrooms with interactive features and information available for the media 24/7, to build stories and reach their deadlines.

I had a big smile on my face when I remembered toward the end of the book, what’s to come (now remember we started writing this book in 2001). In Chapter 15, we discussed how blogs are coming!  And, they sure did. About seven years later, it’s really interesting to compare yesterday’s PR toolkit with today’s social media PR toolkit.  Let’s take a look at what should comprise your NEW PR or PR 2.0 toolkit:

  • A solid social media policy or set of guidelines for your organization to help employees engage the right way in social communities.
  • A plan for social media communications that maps out your company’s social media journey from planning to execution.  Elements of your plan/map may include the following:


Or, you plan may include the following components:

Strategy Wheel

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge
  • Monitoring/tracking tools – either paid software including Radian 6, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, BurrellesLuce, Meltwater News, Vocus, Scoutlabs or free resources including Techrigy, SocialMention, Collecta, Backtype, etc.
  • Authority/ranking tools – Technorati, Blogpulse, Klout, Twitter and/or Facebook Grader, Alltop, etc.
  • Social Media Releases (SMR) and Video News Release 2.0
  • Blogs/social networking communities – after listening to determine where it makes sense for the brand to engage with customers and stakeholders
  • Blogger relations guidelines on how to build relationships the right way with bloggers and how to not spam anyone along the way, with self serving messages.
  • Blogger ethics (WOMMA has an ethics toolkit)
  • Interactive company websites set up for community building and collaboration (including your newsroom area)
  • A new guide to metrics (understanding the difference between capturing ROI (the bottom line) and Return on Engagement (ROE), Return on Participation (ROP) and Return on Involvement (another type of ROI).
  • Web analytics to capture unique visitors, page views, bounce rates, a visitor’s location, amount of time spent on a page, etc.
  • Other tools to consider:  wikis, widgets, RSS, video streaming and podcasts.

Building your toolkit is simple.  Some find working in a wiki really easy, so your team can share more ideas and everyone can build the social media PR toolkit together.  You can also spark ideas about what to add to the kit by bookmarking interesting articles on Delicious or Digg for your group to share.

There’s a big difference between what Tom and I discussed in early 2000, and what’s going on now in public relations.  Today, your toolkit should be based on meaningful collaboration with people, and valuable information and idea sharing.  We’re still focusing on PR to build relationships with all stakeholders, although I have to admit that my book in 2003 was really focused on relationships with journalists.  Today, we know that social media has all of us, as professionals, and our brands, connecting with the customer as well as many other different groups.

Your social media PR toolkit will grow with technology.  You will continue to add to this PR repository to better guide your overall strategy, planning and execution of new PR programs. What’s in your toolkit?  What do you think are the most important tools/items that we should all have?