Whether you are helping navigate a company through its first crisis communications incident, or steering consumers away from a business’s poor online reviews, there are quite a few tools we use which are specific to the public relations industry. We have software and apps for receiving leads, generating content, pitching, locating media contacts, sending out wires/releases, and the like.
These are essential to smooth sailing in our daily lives as PR professionals; however, there are other tools and platforms that keep all those tools and processes and companies from running aground – and it’s up to certain team members to help present choices, recommend, and make those decisions.
Whoever is captaining the ship, whether that is the CEO, President, or owner of the company, is not only in charge of ensuring the company stays afloat, but that the crew is given the necessary tools to perform his or her job to the best of their abilities. The Office Manager of a strategic communications and public relations firm may not be “Captain” of a Public Relations agency, but certainly can be, and is usually considered, the first mate. As such, an important aspect of the job is to determine the answer to the following questions: what are some of the best tools, apps, and programs available which are NOT PR-specific, but will help your company stay on course? What necessary equipment best helps navigate the day-to-day public relations “waters,” so to speak? What tools are the best choice to help PR professionals accomplish their many tasks and projects required of them, day in and day out?
Below are four tools that can be highly effective in helping any public relations or strategic communications firm stay the course and manage their various daily tasks. From firsthand experience, these four apps/programs bolster results internally, which, in turn, contributes to all “deckhands” delivering consistent results for clients, time and again.
For tracking/processes & team productivity
Monday is an online app/program that has a fairly low learning curve and is very easy to set up and begin using. Use this for everything from tracking drafts of documents to client activity and processes to improve overall workflow. The main “item” of Monday.com is called a “board” at the highest level. Then, “under” each board, you have various “groups” which can be lists of processes by steps, or a document as it’s being completed, or even an action item list. Once you have a board (whether that is by client or by process/activity) and the groups therein all set up how you like, duplication is easy at both levels and creates a uniformity. Much like Instagram, you can “at” other colleagues and assign tasks or simply give them an update on a project. Monday.com can also “live” on your phone, desktop or simply online, making it accessible from anywhere.
For long-term offsite/online storage and document management
Dropbox is a free way to manage documents, reduce your server storage in-house and overall, simply keep digital files organized; however, for a nominal fee per year, the deal for any business is very cost-effective for the amount of digital storage you free up from your internal servers. One bonus is that files, documents and the like are shareable between teams/team members, and the person who shares a document controls how much or how little others can “change it.” The controls of edit/view/read only help ensure that only those documents you want revised are changeable. Files and documents are easily dragged into the interface and offloaded. Another comparable, and very similar application is box.com. It is up to the individual which one to use, but honestly, either one would be a great choice.
For tracking employee hours/time management/resource planning
Clicktime is very intuitive, easy to use, and gives both managers and employees the ability to efficiently track time. From senior to junior levels, the various functions that can be performed allow for anyone to see the bigger picture. A resource planning function allows for senior managers to forecast time and costs, but everyone has access to their own time and reports, showing where hours can be better spent. Your level of permissions granted determines how deep into the weeds you can get, regarding monies, budgets, etc., but no matter the depth available, the time off accrual, expense reports submissions and the client hours tracking alone make it worth the cost. The best part? Simply make employees active or inactive with a button to ensure you’re only charged monthly for current employees.
For creativity from A to Z
When it comes to creativity and design, Adobe is king. Whether you want to use Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign or simply Adobe Acrobat/Reader (which I do on a daily basis for PDF editing), Adobe is the best choice, bar none. When Adobe first switched from a “product” to a “cloud subscription” service, doubts ran high. With that being said, it has proved far easier to deal with, and you can kiss those pesky updates goodbye. The best thing is each “subscription” is paid for monthly and supports two logins, meaning you can sign in from any computer anywhere. Once you sign in, download whatever program is needed and just like that, you have the suite at your fingertips.
To be fair, there are many great products out there; however, for tried and true navigation through daily office procedures for integrated communications and strategic public relations firms, you cannot go wrong with these four tools. They will help you with everything from “swabbing the deck” (proverbial, of course!) to steering your PR ship through rough waters by keeping it smooth sailing, no matter what client crisis is making waves!