Working in PR is taxing.
Days often extend far beyond the normal 9-to-5. Clients are demanding, and reporters are often too busy to take your call. The career is so tough that “PR executive” ranks as the sixth-most stressful job of 2016.
PR pros face multiple frustrations on a daily basis. Many spend hours updating spreadsheets, to keep track of reporters in your database—and if you’re constantly worrying about double pitching publications or targeting journalists with whom other colleagues are already dealing, you’re not alone.
PR work shouldn’t be this hard. This isn’t the 1990s. You don’t have to write everything down by hand, keep reporter information in tabbed folders on a shelf in your office or send snail-mail pitches.
Technology can make your life easier. Unfortunately, many of the systems used by PR pros today don’t enable them to do their jobs any better at all.
This is because software firms get excited and blindly develop technology for its own sake, forgetting about the people for whom they are developing it.
This can be especially catastrophic in the PR profession, where time is precious and every new tool has to add value. Therefore, the “RM” in “customer relationship management” should be on every PR agency’s wish list.
Relationship management is paramount in an industry where human intuition and excellent communication skills are required to cultivate client and reporter connections—and to get better responses to your pitches.
The technology you use should help you achieve this by enhancing the PR skills you already have. Specialised CRM software will help you deal with frustrations you can face on a daily basis. Here’s how:
1. It can cut down on wasted time.
Many PR agencies still use spreadsheets to store contact data, campaign information, media lists and pitch histories, but when you’re working to tight deadlines, trawling through complicated documents to find a very particular piece of information is the last thing you want to do.
Great CRM technology can remove this administrative burden with automated data collection, giving you more time to focus on billable activity. It can also automatically capture communications with clients and reporters—by seamlessly integrating with your email server and other mission critical systems.
- Connect your CRM software to your email server to ensure that you have access to updated communications with every contact.
- Choose a CRM tool with a personalised tagging system. This enables you to keep track of contact preferences, such as whether someone prefers tea or coffee—or whether or not they like the office dog.
2. It makes it nearly impossible to send double pitches.
In a large agency, you must have insight into your colleagues’ activities and projects. Inconsistent communication management and a lack of visibility can lead to double pitching.
This is not only frustrating (as you are doing double the work), but can also damage valuable relationships with reporters.
A CRM system can help you avoid this by keeping your pitch history and campaign activities organized, while also making sure that all the crucial people on a given account have access to the right information.
This means that before you approach a publication’s reporter(s), you can easily check if someone else has beaten you to it.
- To achieve greater peace of mind, choose a CRM system that is capable of tracking not just email, but also phone calls, interviews and appointments.
3. It can keep track of information.
Understanding a specific reporter’s preferences is the key to pitching him or her effectively. However, as you likely work with dozens of reporters across multiple clients, keeping the information straight is a tall order.
Reporter intelligence takes years to cultivate. You might take over an account from a colleague, but this doesn’t mean that you have to start at square one. We used to live in a world in which the PR professional’s little black book was their most valuable possession, but reporter relationships should not walk out the door with a departing colleague.
If your agency uses CRM technology, you can easily pick up where a former colleague left off. The system can tell you when to contact a specific reporter and what method of communication they’d prefer—saving the relationship as well as extra legwork.
- Use your CRM on your smartphone or tablet. Most systems are now designed for mobile use, enabling you to access crucial information or add to existing records on the go.
- Have your CRM system readily accessible when you have coffee with a reporter. If he or she is interested in featuring your client, you can pull the relevant names and contact details out without a moment’s notice.
PR can be tough, but it doesn’t have to be. Use the right technology to keep clients happy, charm reporters and improve your efficiency. This way, you can serve more clients and generate greater profits.
Peter Linas is the international managing director at Bullhorn and oversees operations across EMEA and Asia Pacific.