Sometimes when you’re first starting out, finding the right tools to implement effective public relations and communications strategies can be difficult—especially if you’re strapped for cash.
Below is a list of free tools and resources that you can use in all aspects of your PR efforts:
- Buffer (www.buffer.com) In order to implement any great social media strategy, scheduling is key. Scheduling not only allows you to focus on other areas of your communications outreach, but also ensures that should you be tight for time, you’re constantly in touch with your audience. Buffer offers a free version of their service, but this can be quite limited for companies who want to ramp-up their social media efforts. For $10/month you can upgrade to the Awesome plan which lets you connect up to 10 different social accounts and schedule up to 100 posts!
- Bit.ly (www.bit.ly) When it comes to communications, metrics are extremely important. Shortened URLs allow you to track the status of your link, regardless of the medium with which you choose to share it. Bit.ly offers a free version of their service that allows you to shorten URLs and review valuable information associated with them.You can even integrate your bit.ly account with Buffer so that all of your links are automatically shortened!
- MailChimp (www.mailchimp.com) Maintaining multiple touch points with your audience helps ensure that your product, service or brand is always top-of-mind. Email marketing is a great way to keep your clients, customers and prospects in the loop about new content, news or promotions your company may be sharing. MailChimp’s visual editor is one of the easiest to use, and ensures that your content is always mobile-friendly.MailChimp has a free service that allows you to send up to 12,000 emails to 2,000 subscribers each month.
- Bitrix 24 (www.bitrix24.com) All communications strategies require some level of project management. Bitrix 24 is a little-known project management software that allows you and your team to track time on projects, delegate tasks, communicate in a social forum, and provides your company with it’s own intranet portal. Bitrix 24 is now free for up to an unlimited amount of employees and offers 5gb of online storage.
- Google Analytics (www.google.com/analytics/) Solid metrics are both the foundation and stepping-stones of a good communications plan. Metrics allow your business to understand which outreach efforts are working, which are the most effective, and pinpoint which areas need improvement.Google analytics is the best tool for tracking visits on your website, as well as acquisitions you’ve obtained through other channels, such as social media. Best of all it’s completely free.
- Canva (www.canva.com) Visual elements on social media, as well as your website, have been proven to drive engagement. Now, thanks to Canva, you don’t need to be a graphic designer to produce beautiful graphics to accompany your content marketing efforts. Choose from a number of templates and fonts, and import your own images!
- IFTTT (ifttt.com) Advertisers, Marketers and Public Relations professionals are always fighting against time: sometimes there just isn’t enough of it. That’s where automation comes in handy. If This Than Than (IFTTT) helps these professionals automate different aspects of their social media efforts; from sending a direct message to a new follower, to automatically retweeting a tweet with specific keywords, automation helps drive engagement and frees up valuable time.Be careful, though—Too much automation makes you look like you’re a spam bot!
- Commun.it (www.commun.it) Commun.it is a Twitter management tool with a specific focus on relationship management. The simple dashboard gives key information as to who your influencers are, who you should be following, who you should unfollow, and what type of content resonates well with your audience.
- Hubspot CRM (http://www.hubspot.com/products/crm) Now you may be engaging with your audience, but are you keep tracking of who you’re engaging with, or who might be a valuable lead or prime for a sale? Hubspot, a renowned inbound marketing software company and experts, has recently released a CRM system that is completely free. It allows you to track your prospects in one easy, convenient place and track emails through it’s Sidekick email add-on.
- Zapier (www.zapier.com) Remember who we said some level of automation is great? Well Zapier makes it easier to transfer information from one system to another. For example, if a potential lead clicks a link in an email you’ve sent through MailChimp, you can have it automatically add that lead into your CRM, and vice-versa.The free version of this Godsend allows you to set-up 5 zaps, with 100 tasks a month. This number may be good for a smaller company, but larger companies that require more automation may opt for a paid plan.