How Simple Automation Saves Time And Tedium In PR

Any public relations agency today needs nearly instant resources — from details on media preferences to data that informs our pitches and programs. Teams juggle many client accounts, with each having its own needs and expectations. There’s only so much time to spend on routine work like monitoring and measuring, yet these tasks are extremely important to any ongoing PR agency-client relationship. They’re also a huge factor in the success of our programs.
One thing that can help is automating some of the rote tasks we do. Mail-merge for journalist emails is a great example (and one that’s unfortunately misused in PR), but there’s more. Here are a few ways PR agencies should be using tech tools and other resources.

PR media monitoring can be a breeze

Some clients require category or competitive monitoring reports as early as 8:00 a.m. each day. Needless to say, we couldn’t live without simple tools like Google Alerts and services like Cision. Automated monitoring not only flags coverage, but also puts the most topical news on our radar. Alerts for topics relevant to a client’s business can make a big difference in securing quick wins and nailing ideas for proactive pitching. For B2B companies, it’s particularly important to monitor social communities like LinkedIn groups and Twitter conversations among journalists (MuckRack). It helps us stay on top of breaking news as well as the personal chat from journalists and influencers we want to reach. And once a client is interviewed by a publication, we can set an alert rather than conducting hourly searches for the posted article (although in some cases we do both!)

Social content is simple

Many clients task their PR agency with posting social content, ensuring appropriate brand messaging and driving engagement. News releases and other timely content can be planned in advance, while social content can be tailored to day parts and time zones that maximize clicks with services like Hootsuite. But like any other kind of content automation, social content needs human oversight. We’ve all heard the nightmare stories of brands who pre-scheduled flippant tweets in the midst of a national tragedy, or more recently, social influencer content that reeks of bot automation, complete with fake comments.

Locate brand-appropriate social influencers

More than automation of the social content that’s posted for a brand, services like BuzzSumo can help PR strategists locate the right influencers by searching relevant topics in far less time and in greater detail than an old-style manual search. We’re a little wary of the fully-automated micro-influencer platforms used by some DTC and other consumer brands, but, as always, research and testing goes a long way.

Nail the right database for media research

This is the most important one for PR agencies. The entire process of media outreach is by nature frustratingly inefficient. But much of it can be automated, allowing more time for developing the creative subject line or the new launch idea. Tools like Cision open the door for easy custom media-list building, creating contact lists of relevant journalists and influencers around a specific coverage area. Muck Rack also deserves a mention – while it doesn’t have the list generation capabilities of Cision, it finds journalist’s information and ties it to their Twitter, offering real-time information on what that specific journalist is writing and talking about on social media. The information can be crucial to generating interest for reactive pitching and seeing what industry trends are buzzing.

AI-generated content is picking up steam

A post about automation wouldn’t be complete without mentioning AI. It’s being used across a wide array of industries, including PR and marketing. For example, JPMorgan Chase has begun using AI to make marketing messages more potent, and according to CMO Kristin Lemkau, in one test the AI-generated ad copy beat the content written by humans. Content marketer Fractl created a ‘blog‘ that was fully generated by AI to show how easy it is to create such content — and also to raise concerns about the future of content generation. For PR, tools like Quill and Wordsmith turn data into meaningful narratives for a relatively decent price. Although the tech is still in early days for PR use, it’s something agencies should be keeping their eyes on.

Show your work with metrics

Measuring outcomes is like a holy grail for the PR industry, and here, too, automated tools help. Automated services like Meltwater can make those hefty end-of-the-quarter clip reports much less painless than they used to be, for example. Reports that document a brand’s share of voice (SOV) versus competitors are also useful because they offer insight on how a company stacks up against rivals when it comes to earned media coverage. To save us sifting through news stories to identify company mentions, there are plenty of paid services that simplify the process, like Cision. Like all clip reports, automated SOV reports tend to be imperfect, usually catching irrelevant mentions and sometimes equating different types of earned media coverage, so, human intervention is a must.

7 Must-Have PR Tech Tools


Web 2.0 has made the daily nuts and bolts of public relations work unrecognizable from a decade ago. Now, every public relations team needs reliable tech tools for media monitoring, instant messaging, task management, and media-list building, just to name a few. PR people routinely use apps for document design like BeFunky, the industry standard software Cision, and a wire distribution platform like PR Newswire. Some in our agency swear by sanity-preserving apps that have nothing to do with daily business, like Spotify and Calm (for meditation, which we still aspire to!) Apps and web tools come and go like Silicon Valley startups, and the choices can feel endless. Here’s our must-have list.

7 great tools for the tech PR workshop


Crenshaw partner Chris Harihar swears that Wunderlist is the next best thing to having an assistant (insider tip: PR people do not typically have dedicated assistants). Wunderlist is pleasing to the eyes, and more user-friendly than Outlook’s “tasks” bar. It’s synced across all devices so it’s readily available to check at all hours of the night (insider tip: PR people work nights). Plus, it allows you to separate work lists from others like travel, chores – whatever the user deems necessary to keep life from spinning into chaos. You can toggle seamlessly your grocery list and the Q4 PR plan. Also, if you’re collaborating on a project with a coworker – as we always are – we can share lists using the app.


Cision’s media contact information should never been taken as gospel, since journalists, outlets, and email addresses are constantly in flux. PR pros can verify a reporter’s email address quickly by typing it into the single bar on the website If the contact is elusive but you know the domain, you can test address combinations. Most domains allow access for this type of testing, although a few do not. Mailtester or one of the similar apps like EmailHunter is a lifesaver for most PR people.


Techmeme is a favorite news aggregator website for tech PR people. Every pro has her go-to channel for tracking news developments in technology. A quick glance at or its e-newsletter brings you up to speed on trending conversations from outlets like The Verge, ArsTechnica, and Financial Times – as well as a list of upcoming tech conferences and events. Our own account supervisor Erica Schain says it’s the best place to get a summary in real time of what’s trending across the tech blogs, offering a bird’s eye view of what reporters are writing about. As a bonus, Techmeme launched its own podcast earlier this year, hoping to duplicate the roaring success of The New York Times Daily, a top podcast since 2017.


BuzzSumo remains a go-to tool to assist PR pros in keeping track of who’s writing about what topics, and the resulting social engagement from each placement. This tool is key for sniffing out gaps in the narrative that allow PR pros to find the right story angle to pitch. BuzzSumo pro plans allow one to identify influencers’ shared content, find backlink opportunities, and monitor brands and competitors’ content. A quick search returns a list of influencers on any given topic, along with several telling statistics, including domain authority and share percentage. Cost ranges from $79-$499 per month.


While heavy hitters like Microsoft (Yammer) are racing to develop applications to compete with Slack, and competitors like BaseCamp and Trello offer solid alternatives, it remains the best option for the Crenshaw Communications team for internal collaboration. We have separate channels set up for each client, and we can swiftly share links, images, and documents. Like many companies, we even have a dedicated channel for non work-related chat, where we might share a ridiculous pop culture story or gossip. Though Slack hasn’t yet unclogged email inboxes, it helps us make things happen faster — an absolute must in the world of New York tech PR.


Remote voice and video communication are critical to PR work, from client meetings to media interviews. Every PR agency needs a versatile solution for meetings. UberConference allows for easy connections without pin codes and app downloads, and can be integrated with tools like Slack and LinkedIn. With the UberConference Business upgrade ($15/month), participants from 50 countries can call in. Further, the cloud software allows meeting participants to collaborate on documents during the call. Clearly, one of the great advantages of technology is its improvement of collaboration not only in PR, but all industries.


We encourage clients to tell data-driven stories that are mediaworthy and verifiable. Survata is an affordable market research company that advises on and executes surveys using its network of publishers and partnerships with research panels. An SMB can conduct market research with unlimited survey questions at a reasonable cost. We’ve found it a useful resource among the many options for customers surveys and newsmaking B2B opinion research.

5 Reasons Tech PR Is A Different Animal

If you’re an aspiring PR professional or even a seasoned veteran who has never worked in the tech sector, you may wonder what it’s like. Is all PR basically the same? The fact is, the public relations industry is becoming more specialized and diverse. Agencies who work in tech PR are part of an industry whose signature attribute is innovation – which is both stressful and exciting. The day-to-day work can also be different. Here’s how.

What sets tech PR apart

A transactional PR-journalist/influencer relationship

The tech sector’s rapid news cycle can contribute to a more transactional relationship between PR people and the journalists they know.  Prominent tech reporters are compelled to grab the latest news, publish, and keep the ball rolling on to the next thing. And while tech isn’t the only sector where being first is a journalist’s  goal, it’s among the most brutally competitive. Most tech PRs learn to negotiate for “exclusive” story placement on behalf of clients when it comes to funding or innovation news. Additionally, tech PR firms must nurture mutually beneficial relationships with analysts, just as they do with journalists. Here, the goal may be to score a mention in a key report in the absence of a paid relationship. A positive recommendation in a Gartner or IDC is a valuable third-party endorsements for an up-and-coming B2B technology player.

Taming the technology beast

In recent years the tech sector has faced a reputation problem, from its lack of diversity to data privacy issues. Problems vary with the individual company, of course. But PR agency teams today can face an extra challenge when it comes to poorly understood sectors like digital advertising technology or blockchain, for example. Then there are regulatory issues that demand the communication of a company position as well as internal adaptation to new rules. The recently enacted GDPR European data privacy rule challenged virtually every department in most companies, but it also offers opportunities for relevant commentaries and point-of-view content.

The need for speed

All PR moves at a rapid pace, driven by the news cycle and the speed of digital technology. But in tech PR, that pace is accelerated, for several reasons. Many tech companies are young businesses or high-growth startups, and they’re highly entrepreneurial in style and speed. The acceleration also stems from the current boom of private equity investment in tech startups. Finally, it’s the pace of innovation. There always seem to be new startups, more financing rounds, new offerings, and of course fresh technology breakthroughs. It’s also a crowded mediascape where there’s fierce competition for share of voice. That means PR teams are on their toes, reacting quickly to trending news or relevant issues or moving to fill the innovation story pipeline.

High-tech is highly “technical”

A PR pro working in any sector needs to be well versed in the language of that industry. Consumer PR teams become familiar with their clients’ products, and investor relations pros must know their way round Wall Street. But tech PR people must master a language that is sometimes more complicated. In adtech and media, for example, we assimilate terms like “native programmatic direct” and alphabet-soup acronyms like GDPR, OTT, and DMP. More importantly, it’s often the job of the PR rep to streamline, simplify, and translate the language of technology into tangible and relevant customer benefits. Tech startups in particular are known for being in love with their technology, sometimes to the detriment of the overall story. Our role is to make sure that doesn’t happen.

What tech? Where?

Adtech, martech, fintech, biotech, and greentech offer ample opportunities for corporate communicators, especially in New York, San Francisco, and Boston. If you’re a recent college graduate enamored with the cutting edge or a seasoned PR pro itching for a new challenge, a tech agency could be a great new adventure. You don’t have to be a computer geek, gamer, or data scientist to work in the sector. Most of us don’t have computer science degrees. We study and absorb knowledge as we go, and it soon becomes second nature. Technology is a beast that grows and evolves, offering a stimulating environment for public relations professionals. And lucky for us, it’s far from an endangered species.

6 PR-Friendly Traits Of Successful Startups

When you’re a technology PR agency working with mature startups in growth mode, certain characteristics form patterns as you develop PR strategies. As natural storytellers, we’re always looking for the compelling narratives that tie to broader themes, and when it comes to tech companies, these traits tend to make themselves clear. Here are the PR-friendly characteristics of many tech startups.

They were born out of necessity. A business owner who needed a better tool for sending large files to clients; a game developer who craved a way to track performance in app stores; or a talented black finance executive who realized most minority candidates don’t find their dream jobs. These are all examples of technology companies we work with whose key offering wasn’t something they intended to develop — it was something they needed to create to continue doing what they were already doing, only better. If your product comes into the world out of necessity and then takes on a life of its own, it could be indicative of future success – or at least, a great PR opportunity.

They introduce a new solution for a common point of pain. This flows out of the first: chances are, if you needed to create this product or service, others will find it valuable, too. Solving a problem no one else has solved, in a way that’s accessible for those who need it, is one sure way to growth as a tech startup.

Their founders have a compelling story of self discovery. As a team with an entrepreneurial spirit, we share the excitement of tech company founders who have been transformed by experience, good and bad. Successful founders are on a personal journey — they’ve overcome challenges, tasted victory, experienced setbacks, and fought their way to new beginnings, all of which make for a powerful narrative.

They have strong convictions. Tech companies aren’t usually nonprofits, but they share the sense of mission-mindedness that motivates nonprofits. Whether it’s the belief that the workforce should be more diverse, or that a traditional art form is worth preserving, these companies are excited about a cause. Which makes sense, since launching a company — and making it successful — is hard work and takes conviction, perseverance, and grit.

They take risks. Starting a new venture is never without risk, and those in tech fields are especially aware of this. Startup founders have had to overcome fears of failure, rejection, or being made obsolete. Many do fail, but rather than accept it as the final word on entrepreneurship, they learn important lessons and move on. Part of Steve Jobs’ well known legacy was his views on risk-taking and failure as a way of gaining valuable experience.

They stay focused. Life at a rising tech company can feel like a roller coaster ride at times, but it’s hard to get successful leaders distracted from key goals that are crucial to the company’s success. They tend to know what the goal is, and won’t rest — or leave others alone — until it is met.

The Top Tech PR Stories Of 2015

As PR agency professionals and other pundits make up their “best” and “worst” lists for 2015, technology stories and the PR behind them will be ubiquitous. That’s because the publications and brands that used to be followed by geeks and technical experts are now mainstream. Mashable, for example, reports regularly on general news stories, and an entire industry of Apple-watchers is always poised to weigh in on its next move.

Here, then is my list of five top tech stories of 2016 – defined as those that had the greatest PR impact.

Apple Watch set trends for wearables. The much-anticipated launch of its latest product was also a media watch, as fans and critics followed breathless liveblogs of the introduction and the reviews of lucky first adopters. No, the Apple Watch wasn’t a home run launch for Apple, but that’s not the point. Apple’s entry made wearables a category to be reckoned with for 2016 and beyond.

Ashley Madison was beset by hackers. Woe to the PR person with a data security clients who didn’t jump on the bandwagon here! The data breach, in which hackers posted the personal information of Ashley Madison members, was a warning to any site promising user confidentiality. As Re/code described it in a story about the repercussions of the infamous Sony Pictures data hemorrhage of 2014, “hackers can and will take away your job.” And maybe your business.

Self-driving cars started up. Move over, Google! In 2015 Tesla upgraded the software for its Model S sedans, enabling smart autopilot functions that will maintain distance from other vehicles, change lanes, and park themselves. The self-driving car is more than just a hilarious segment on HBO’s “Silicon Valley.” It’s an innovation likely to change transportation forever.

Amazon gets ‘primed’ for higher-tech drone delivery. Drones were big again in 2015, but it may be Amazon’s investment in drone technology, particularly  a slimmer, sleeker delivery bot, that grabbed the  most media attention as customers and Amazon-watchers anticipate the launch of Amazon Prime Air.

Yahoo’s decline rolls on. This wasn’t a single story, but rather a steady, drip-drip of bad news and negative moves for the once-dominant company. Many are predicting that 2016 will be Marissa Mayer’s last year as CEO, as slow growth in its core advertising business persists and an exodus of talent continues. Ad tech giants like Google, Facebook, and AOL Platforms have surpassed Yahoo, which more and more seems like a symbol of an earlier technology era.

What PR People Should Know About Analyst Relations

Most B2B technology companies and the PR agencies who represent them understand the value of industry analysts as part of a strong PR program. Journalists often look to analysts to confirm trends, deliver insights, and add quotes and credibility to their profiles of key industries. Cultivating analyst relationships over the long term can result in positive coverage in the trade press, and many are influential with general business media as well. Some top tech companies actually consider analyst relations more important than media relations.
Yet AR is sometimes an afterthought for companies who can’t afford pricey subscriptions, or who are purely focused on earned media visibility.

That shouldn’t be the case. Even without a paid relationship with key analysts, a long-term commitment to analyst relations can pay off for any company in an important industry or an emerging category.

Analyst meetings require a level of preparation and planning similar to those with journalists, but they aren’t out for news. They’re more interested in depth of knowledge about an industry or niche, identifying trends, and placing an entire competitive set into context for their reports.
The good news is that most tech-industry analysts are eager to keep a high profile; they want to be quoted in the press and will sometimes return the favor if the information is useful or if it helps characterize trends within an industry or sector.

Every good PR person should know how to handle an analyst meeting.

Involve the analyst(s) early. It’s not always necessary to wait until just before a new product launch to arrange meetings with key analysts. For one thing, their schedules often book weeks or months in advance. More importantly, a good analyst relationship is a give and take. A top analyst can be a source of feedback on how you plan to position your offering as well as the competitive space overall.

Respect their expertise. The typical industry analyst is a true expert in your category, so expect a sophisticated understanding of the space, and don’t waste time with an industry overview. Even if you think your business is unique, assume the analyst is familiar.

Take the time to prepare for analyst meetings. A good PR consultant will research the individual analyst and his company for you, but it’s also important to prepare the content and think through answers to questions as you would for a journalist meeting. Make sure all internal experts are present for the call or meeting and that they know what to expect. Don’t run long, and make sure your presentation allows time for questions.

Share insight, not just input.  You’ll want to do a thorough job of briefing the analyst about a product or service update, but you can be an even more valuable resource by offering an informed perspective on industry trends and competitive moves. Some companies don’t like to admit they have competitors, or they’re afraid to offer opinions or intelligence on rivals, but, remember, most analysts are paid to cover entire industries, not a category of one.

Go niche. If meetings with the big guys like Forrester and Gartner can’t be scheduled right away, look at smaller analyst firms that have a hyperfocus in your area. They are often very influential and the depth of specialist expertise can make up for the lack of scale. Most B2B marketing technology categories, for example, are followed by at least one niched analyst who is enormously knowledgeable about the space. These individuals can influence customers, journalists, and even other analysts.

Try to meet in person. This isn’t always possible, but a real sit-down beats a phone or skype briefing. It’s easier to get into greater depth, and you have a stronger chance of building a long-term relationship. An industry conference is usually a great opportunity to schedule analyst meetings that would otherwise be over the phone.

Use visuals. Particularly if your analyst discussion deals in technical matters or explains a complex or emerging issue, make use of an uncluttered, well-designed deck to supplement the verbal briefing.

Stay in touch. It’s best to look at analyst relations as a long-term asset, and one that is mutually beneficial. Maintain the relationship by reaching out periodically with industry insights, important news, or observations about shifts or competitive moves. You can also ask for opinions and insights in return. A top analyst can be a terrific contact and a career-long resource.

In Tech PR, The Medium Is (Part of) The Message

I want to be seen as a thought leader,” said the tech company CEO to the PR professional.

We’ve all heard it. And it’s an encouraging sign for PR that CEOs at companies ranging from Fortune 500 businesses to startups are asking about it. They understand the value of building a personal brand and cultivating ownership of relevant issues.  And many technology businesses have a deep reservoir of talent and intellectual assets. They just need help to package and communicate those assets.

First, you need the thought capital. Innovative, differentiated points of view, coupled with insights that can move the conversation forward in your sector. That’s how you become a top voice—by having something interesting to say. Marc Benioff and Fred Wilson are great examples of thought leaders who got there not just by building successful businesses, but by having something to say.

But thoughts don’t translate into leadership unless they are shared and heard by the right people. There’s such a staggering amount of content available –  on the web, at conferences, and through direct sharing – that packaging and marketing those thoughts can feel like putting a message in a bottle.  You send it out and hope that it will find a receptive audience.

Great ideas need virality. They need legs. How to make sure they are shared?

Before you decide on tools to market your insight, consider this — in many technology sectors, the medium is also the message. Particularly in tech, the platform you use should have value beyond functionality. If it’s a cool, emerging medium, that in itself can help differentiate your brand.

That’s why services like Medium, Quora, SlideShare, Svbtle and Tumblr have weight.  Sharing content on platforms like these can infer a knowledge of technology and familiarity with hot platforms. It speaks to your interest in the space itself.

Don’t believe me? Take a look at this Gawker article. If you emailed a reporter with an AOL email address, according to Gawker, you’re “an old person, stuck in the mid-90s.” It’s a “digital AARP card,” they say. So yes, the tools and platforms you use matters.

This is where PR always helps—in creating or advising on content, but also on packaging. It can sound shallow, and there are exceptions that prove the rule, but the bottle that contains the message can say a lot about the sender.

In my next post, I’ll explore some of the newest and most interesting tools for sharing content.