PR Moves Toward Collaboration

Dear Friends,

I’m traveling in Holland, discussing PR 2.0 and having a wonderful time.  Heather Whalen is my guest blogger today.  Hope you enjoy the post!!

Guest Post:  PR Moves Toward Collaboration

By Heather Whalen

It’s no secret that we’re all being asked to do more with less. Efficiency is a regular part of our vocabulary — and a standard by which clients hold us accountable. The question is: Beyond just working faster, what can we do to be more efficient? There are lots of “right” answers, but if you ask me, collaboration tops the list. Lucky for us, there are lots of free or inexpensive tools available to help PR people collaborate with each other.

5 Collaboration Tools

  • Google Wave, Docs, Groups — Do you ever stop to ask yourself, “Where would we be without Google?” If you’re not already using Google to collaborate, start today. Here are just a few examples to illustrate how Google is helping us be more efficient. Lauren Fernandez and David Spinks, co-founders of the #u30Pro young professional community, rely on Google Docs to collaborate about topics for upcoming chats and other community-building projects. When working on a PR plan for a client with three other PR people, Alexia Harris found Google Groups to be very valuable — ensuring everyone knew what was going on and helping the team stay on track. She compared it to Basecamp, but without the pricetag. Most recently, Google’s newest tool, Wave, has gotten people talking about collaboration. Check out Deirdre’s post about Wave as a PR 2.0 tool, including a helpful list of pros and cons.
  • Pitch with Me — Whether you’re pitching a trend … or a human interest story – two (or more) resources are better than one. Journalists are being asked to do more with less — which means they don’t have time to chase down interviews. Instead of just pitching your client, provide reporters and bloggers with multiple sources. Within agencies, this kind of “packaged pitching” is already taking place; however, freelancers, boutique agencies and small businesses don’t always have these kinds of resources available. But, that’s where Pitch with Me helps. It’s a new media-relations tool designed to help PR pros work together to craft better pitches. Better pitches lead to better stories — keeping clients happy! Just answer a couple questions to submit a query and follow @pitchwithme or the website to monitor opportunities to partner with other PR people. (Disclosure: Pitch with Me is a project of Geben Communication.)
  • Twitter —  By now, you’ve probably (hopefully!) mastered the art of conversation and community-building on Twitter. Now, it’s time to elevate it to the next level and collaborate in 140 characters. I see lots of potential in this area specifically for nonprofits and businesses working on issue advocacy and education. For example, February is Heart Health Month. Instead of each tweeting Heart Association chapter using a localized hashtag (which can impede a national dialogue), create a broader discussion by aggregating tweets with a national hashtag, and invite medical providers and researchers, heart health advocates, and other stakeholders to participate with this hashtag. That doesn’t mean eliminate community- or association-specific tags. Instead, look for specific opportunities to collaborate, which can have a bigger impact.
  • Toodledo — There are thousands of applications out there to manage to-do lists. With a slight obsession for list-making, I’ve tried a variety of such tools, and my favorite is Toodledo. The free version lets you manage your upcoming tasks and deadlines, create folders for specific projects or clients, and track time spent on each item. The pro version ($14.95 for a yearly subscription) includes the ability to share your lists with other people and assign tasks to them. Additionally, you can pick which folder each person sees and whether they can edit tasks. Plus, you can track tasks assigned to you. As collaboration becomes further ingrained in our day-to-day duties, project management and oversight will become that much more important for successful PR.
  • ConceptShare — If you believe that integrated communication is key to increasing efficiency and effectiveness, then you’ll see the value in tool like ConceptShare, a web-based application that allows designers to share print, web and video projects. Per the web site: “Stripped to its core, the power of the ConceptShare lies in its ability to re-create the experience of a group sitting around a table and marking up designs, debating and driving towards decisions that lead to a better product.” While it’s not strictly a PR tool, ConceptShare does help ensure that all disciplines (marketing, PR, design, social media, etc.) involved in a project are on the same strategic page.

Think of this as a “starter list.” What other tools or services have you discovered that improve collaboration among PR people? Share your favorites in the comments.

With nearly 10 years of PR agency experience, Heather Whaling recently launched her own communication firm, Geben Communication. Fusing strategic thinking, strong writing skills and creativity, Heather delivers integrated PR, social media and marketing services to small businesses and nonprofit organizations. She is also the creator of Pitch with Me. Connect with her on her blog, Twitter or via email at heather [at]