Lee Odden

5 Tools for Your Digital PR Toolbox

News SEO ToolsThe transition from old to new technology creates both challenges and opportunities for communications professions.  The field of public relations is directly tied to the publishing industry which of course, is directly connected to business and consumer information discovery and consumption.  The migration from offline to online has left these industries in a state of flux and traditional PR becoming increasingly digital is no exception.

There are tactical challenges as well as strategic. For example, the shift towards digital communications means a new set of tools must be learned in order to accomplish today’s PR goals.  Now more than ever, public relations professionals need to familiarize themselves with a new arsenal of tools to adjust and thrive in a digital world.

Which tools and tactics are most effective for online PR? What are the best practices and guidelines for using each tool appropriately? Here are five tools every digital PR practitioner should have in their online PR toolbox.

Search Engine Optimization –  Search is the top method for finding information online. Keyword optimizing news content is a key device for digital PR professionals.  News content that is ripe for optimization ranges from press releases to media coverage to digital assets such as images or video.  Optimizing news content for relevant and popular phrases can help that content rank well in the search engines. Improved search visibility helps marketing efforts, online reputation and it can attract analysts, journalists and bloggers researching your industry.

Social Media –  Understanding social media relations is an important part of a digital PR effort.  The audiences a company is trying to reach or influence are spending time on and being influenced by social media.  Social participation in a digital PR program means connecting with and engaging influentials and customers to perpetuate a positive brand image as well as identifying and empowering brand ambassadors.  Proactive content optimization of social media content and building relationships with fans helps dispel negative brand attention and accentuate what’s positive. It is essential to be open with and useful to social communities and to adhere to both implicit and explicit ‘social rules’ rather than just dropping links to what you’re promoting.

Digital Assets –  “If it can be searched on, it can be optimized”.  The video, audio, podcasts, images, and many other digital assets hosted on most company websites represent many opportunities for pull based PR.  Optimizing digital assets with relevant keywords and either promoting or submitting to vertical search engines like YouTube and Flickr can provide additional exposure to media that conduct online research as well as end customers.  In a survey of journalists and reporters conducted by TopRank, 91% of respondents indicated they frequently use search engines to do their job. Optimizing more than standard text content for PR creates additional entry points to news content and can improve search based discovery.

Blogging – When done right, a company blog can be an incredible PR asset. A company blog is an opportunity for a brand to create and publish its own content to a relevant online audience of content creators.  Well-optimized and linked blog posts can rank well in the search engines making them easy to find for journalists and bloggers researching stories.  Blogger relations is often more successful when the company being pitched has it’s own blog to point to.

Search and Social Media Monitoring – With so many content creators online, the chance for both negative and positive brand mentions increases dramatically. Yet many tools exist to help the online PR pro effectively monitor brand reputation. Companies can set up free alerts using tools like Google Alerts, Social Mention or Twitter to watch for mentions of their brand name, competitors’ names, industry news, and important key names.  Social media monitoring data can be used to mine new ideas, keep tabs on competitors, identify brand ambassadors and address any negative press quickly and directly.  Monitoring search engine rankings of news content can provide important feedback for news optimization efforts and provide insight into search traffic effectiveness.

A well-stocked PR toolbox should at the very least contain these five tools and the skill sets to get the most value from them. Whether it’s to identify and build relationships with influential bloggers or making it easy for journalists to find your company/client when researching stories, standard PR tactics can no longer be relied upon. Creating and promoting content on the social web in addition to leveraging keyword optimization can provide PR practitioners substantial advantages over their legacy minded peers who continue to rely on press releases, email and phones as their sole tools for gaining media coverage.

What digital PR tools would you add to this list? How are you using blogging, social media and SEO in your online PR efforts?

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Lee Odden About Lee Odden

@LeeOdden is the CEO of TopRank Marketing and editor of Online Marketing Blog. Cited for his expertise by The Economist, Forbes and the Wall Street Journal, he's the author of the book Optimize and presents internationally on B2B marketing topics including content, search, social media and influencer marketing. When not at conferences, consulting, or working with his talented team, he's likely running, traveling or cooking up something new.


  1. Great info. But I would also add a viral video, it can be a very effective tool when running a PR campaign.

  2. Very good content. I still love the idea of a well put together newsroom. I saw the webinar from Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. They do a great job of using the concept.

  3. I agree with Jeff.

    In the online marketing setting, viral videos — or “virals” as I like to call them — can be very useful in terms of bolstering a brand’s prominence.

    However, I would just like to emphasize that depending on how you use it, a viral video for your brand can either push it forward in the online marketing scene or drag it downwards.

    Just think originality, creativity and timeliness and you’re good to go.

  4. Avatar Igor Helps You Succeed says

    Thanks for the tips. Love ’em


  5. Avatar Mark Bowden says

    Great article, very well written.

    Just when you think you have mastered all the strategies, along come new ones that you have to learn to adapt to this ever changing world.

    The video podcast has been a completely new stategy for me, but the results we are achieving are outstanding.


  6. I think blogging is not only useful for the readers, but also for the writers; it makes you discover again the joy of communicating with friends and potential customers.

  7. Avatar Jerusalem Style says

    +1 for Jeff
    Viral video is very important for Company.

  8. Well I’m biased as a video-lover, but I’d count that as a unique one like Mark… a) it’s inexpensive, b) it helps with your first point (SEO), and c) it’s visceral… meaning more persuasive.

  9. ”If it can be searched on, it can be optimized”.

    Very important piece of advice that I tend to lose sight of when bogging myself down with other tasks. Thanks for the reminder!


  10. Blogging as a business can be bad though if the business doesn’t have much to say/doesn’t update often. Having a blog with 3 posts that hasn’t been updated in months looks worse than no blog at all!

  11. These are some great tips. I think that social networking is the most important tool in our toolboxes. I find that every time I do something on a social network my traffic and readership fly’s though the roof.

  12. I agree with the Strategic Advisors; you can make some “virals”, but if it’s not worth sharing the whole thing could eventually backfire.

    In our firm sells a pretty cool product, outdoor events, but still it is hard to spread a good viral campaign without repeating the same message. Creativity is definitely the key to success here, good content will spread itself.

  13. Avatar Karl Foxley says

    I agree with Remko Landtman, ‘good content will spread itself’ and sharing that great content in various formats (blog post, podcast, video) will make it a lot more easier to spread.

    A very informative article.



  14. Great tools, I do agree about having viral videos included. I’ll be passing this great information along. I am using blogging, social networking, and SEO right now to make people aware of my brand. So far so good.

  15. Avatar JonatsGonats says

    I agree with everything mentioned by the author.

    what is greatly difficult is jump starting that social network for any business especially for a blog/company that is not recognized. This would take a lot of careful planning, time and resources.

    we should be ready with how we measure our ROI from all these efforts.

  16. This is some really useful and helpful advice. I think blogging is a great way for you to communicate with potential customers and keep your site updated with valuable information.

  17. nothing that hasn’t been said before, but thanks for the post. It’s motivating to know that the process, like most things, is simple but takes dedication and hard work!

  18. This is all true, but I’d like to see more details about each method. I’m glad it’s making people aware of the issues.

  19. It really takes either a lot or a little of everything to really become visible online in the search engines.

  20. Nice information provide by you. You are doing very well job! keep it up. Let me use this for my link promotion.
    Email Marketing Software

  21. Avatar Miguel Linares says

    Another great overview. Another direction in which we need innovation is webspinning, by which I mean, linking together and promoting dialogue between websites themselves and their communities; similar to the aims of social media pr, but on a macro scale

  22. Avatar Jerry Suhrstedt says

    We’ve had some discussion recently with some PR folks… they are all employing at least some of the tools mentioned.


  23. Solid summary thanks. I think if people consisently use the right keywords in context accross media they realize a virtuous circle of traffic.

  24. Avatar Yinka Olaito says

    Public Relations experts need to be at home with current media evolution. The use of social media, blogs and SEO are important to today’s business

  25. I honestly think these tools are becoming more important than the traditional “press release” strategy. Aren't more readers ditching traditional newspapers and moving to web anyway? The PR industry needs to evolve with the times and it is slow coming.

  26. I honestly think these tools are becoming more important than the traditional “press release” strategy. Aren't more readers ditching traditional newspapers and moving to web anyway? The PR industry needs to evolve with the times and it is slow coming.