10 Productivity Apps for Every PR Professional

If you’re a PR agency professional, you know efficiency and organization are crucial to everyday life. However, it can be challenging when you have several clients to manage, meetings to attend, multiple pitches under way, and new business to pursue – and a personal life! Thankfully, it’s 2015 and we can embrace technology that makes our limited hours a little more productive so you can accomplish more. Here are 10 apps we recommend for streamlining your daily tasks:

Any.do. Create and manage to-do lists and set reminders with this calendar alternative. There’s an option to share lists with coworkers for team productivity. You can even create separate lists for work, personal and family tasks to organize all aspects of your life in one spot. Free on iOS and Android.

Feedly. Suplement your Twitter feed to keep a pulse on the latest news and trends with this RSS news tracker you can customize. It syncs with Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Evernote, OneNote and Pinterest for easy sharing. Free on iOS, Android and Amazon.

Pocket. When you’re busy multitasking or running to a meeting, Pocket saves articles and videos to view later. It even works offline so it’s perfect for those dull subway rides! Free on iOS, Android and Amazon.

CamScanner. With CamScanner, your phone or tablet is your scanner. Take photos of documents and edit, store and sync them on-the-go. Free on iOS, Android,Windows and Amazon.

1Password. How many times have you created a password, only to forget it seconds later? Do you reuse passwords for different accounts? 1Password can create, remember and encrypt strong, unique passwords – all you need to remember is your password for the app. Free on iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon.

Dropbox. We deal with large files on a daily basis, so Dropbox allows you to store and share photos, documents and videos with your teams or for clients. Free on iOS, Android, Windows and Blackberry.

Eventbrite. Just because you’re busy doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Find cool (often free!) events to attend after work either for leisure, networking or both (because PR pros know how to multitask). Or use this app to set up an easy ticket and check-in system for your clients’ events. Free on iOS and Android.

LinkedIn. In PR you’re constantly meeting new people – reporters and prospective clients to name a few. Staying connected is important, and the mobile version of this popular social platform will help you look up individuals and reach out anytime. Free on iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon and Blackberry.

GoToMeeting. Often you or your colleagues are away from the office. Instead of rescheduling calls, GoToMeeting allows you to dial in to voice or HD video conference meetings, share decks and more – all from your mobile device wherever you are. Free download on iOS, Android, Windows and Amazon; organizer accounts cost $39/month (up to 25 participants) or $56/month (up to 100 participants).

TripIt. Sometimes working in PR means being a jetsetter of sorts. By forwarding your confirmation emails for hotels, flights, restaurants, etc., TripIt consolidates all your travel info into one itinerary. It even looks up directions, maps, weather and other useful information so last-minute trips need not be stressful. Free on iOS, Android, Windows, Amazon and Blackberry.

Time Management and the "Laborious" Life

It’s Labor Day weekend, and I certainly hope most people will celebrate by not doing labor. I mean, we’re all so busy, especially in PR!  But are we being honest about how we spend our time?
Start from the premise that we all have 168 hours per week, which sounds like a lot. And out of those hours, many would say we work about 45-50 hours a week and try to sleep 7-8 hours a night. Many have a one-hour commute each day. We have now used up about 100 hours, what are you doing with the other 68?

Perhaps you’d like to be:
• Exercising at least three times a week
• Eating (preparing and enjoying your meals, a bit more on weekends)
• Binge-watching your favorite shows
• Family time/entertainment
• Catching up on your reading

If your current time allotment is just not working for you, here are some ways to improve your laborious life:

Keep a time log. Track time to keep you from spending it mindlessly and to keep yourself honest. Write down what you’re doing as often as you remember for at least a week. Add up the totals. Checking social media five times a day at six minutes a pop adds up to two-and-a-half hours in a workweek — curiously, the exact amount of time the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends we exercise.

Be honest. While humble-bragging Americans claim to sleep only five hours per night, time logs show many of us do actually get the prescribed eight or more. One study tracking people’s estimated and actual workweeks found that those claiming to work 70, 80, or more hours were logging less than 60.

Set goals. Ask yourself what you’d like to do with your time; perhaps adding more exercise by swapping out a couple hours of purposeless web trawling. See where in your 168 hours you could make that happen.

Change your language. Instead of saying “I don’t have time” try saying “it’s not a priority,” which is often a perfectly adequate explanation. “I have time to clean out my closet, but it’s not a priority.” Other things are harder. “I keep cancelling the dentist because my health is not a priority.” Changing up our terminology reminds us that time is a choice – some of it anyway – and we have to balance how we spend our precious time!

Managing Your Managers In An Agency Environment

by guest blogger Lauren Silverman

In PR, it’s not uncommon to wear a few hats over the course of the day; one minute you’re a writer, the next an event organizer, and you’re always a juggler. Balancing work for multiple clients and managers requires not only the right organizational skills, but good communication with higher-ups. Here are a few tips to stay on top of your tasks and “manage up.”

Read your relationships
Take responsibility for the relationships at your PR agency. Get to know what works best with each member of your team. Does your direct report prefer written detailed progress memos or just email updates throughout the day? Do your peers like to meet to divvy up tasks within the team? Find the methods that work best up and down the chain of command to keep work flowing, clients happy and the office humming along.

One of the most challenging (and exciting!) things about PR is how often tasks spring up on a moment’s notice. A day that seemed slated for press release writing and a meeting or two can be derailed when a client announces they need a major task done by end of day. Throw in clients from different time zones, and before you know it, your day just got hectic! Take a deep breath, you CAN manage this by making sure to confirm deadlines and priorities with your higher-ups. When in doubt, ask your manager to rank priorities, and in the case of competing tasks from different managers, be proactive by asking them to make the call, — before the 11th hour.

Be clear on deadlines
Always ask for specific deadlines; then, strive to exceed them. For a multi-day project, keep your managers in the loop as other things come up. “I’m still planning to deliver the draft report by Friday, but I’ll need to spend this afternoon on Sharon’s research,” is a subtle reminder to your managers that you’re multitasking as much as they are, and that you’re responsive even in a dynamic environment.

Anticipate tasks before they happen
At a busy PR agency, not all assignments are going to be spelled out in advance. It’s helpful to anticipate and complete some tasks you’ve already become comfortable with. Does your management team have to assemble a report at the same time every month? Make sure all useful files are up-to-date and easy to find. Offer to assemble contacts, or update a media list before a big media relations campaign. Not only does this alleviate your manager’s stress in the moment, but will help make your tasks more seamless in the future.

When you’ve completed a task or assignment, let your manager know before you move on to the next project. Don’t assume she realizes something’s put to bed. If you hit a roadblock that might delay a deliverable, make sure to communicate that also, but be solutions oriented where possible. (“We may be short-staffed for the event; shall I ask Tom to be on standby?”)

Are there other techniques you have found to be effective when juggling your tasks?