“You can have all the tools in the world, but if you don’t genuinely believe in yourself, it’s useless.” — Ken Jeong
Are you a Meltwater or Cision agency? I was asked this question during a recent proposal meeting. Meltwater and Cision are just two among many media database tools used by public relations (PR) and marketing professionals in the course of conducting their business. If you were to search online for PR and marketing technology (martech) tools, you would likely find articles and posts about dozens of solutions designed to enable public relations collaboration, outreach, tracking, and reporting. There’s no doubt that some are absolutely essential in the function of PR – a news distribution service, a comprehensive and up-to-date media database, news monitoring capabilities, and a way to share files and track projects among team members. Others are nice, even great, to have but can be pricey. However, in the midst of it all, the most important element of an effective PR program is the person or team implementing the plan.
The Rapid Growth of Marketing Technology Tools
Technology has seen exponential growth over the last two decades. This growth has also led to a rapid increase in the number of technological tools that are used in marketing and PR. These tools help to increase efficiency and take out some of the human error that occurs when collecting information, developing plans, and increasing an entity’s online presence. This article by HubSpot, provides a list of 20 PR tools along with their uses and costs. At what point are there just too many, or do they go too far?
Why More Technology is Not Better
While it is undeniable that technology has drastically increased efficiency in the world of marketing and PR, it can reach a point of diminishing returns. This is particularly obvious in the case of building relationships. In this article by Stern Strategy Group, the author explains the scenario of speaking to journalists as he mentioned that automated phone calls with gauntlets of menus to accomplish menial tasks only leads to frustration. He further elaborates and says that the best and most productive relationships that he’s had with journalists have been when he was able to have conversations with them in which he was able to “discuss topics of interest if that is their preferred method of doing business, or realize that the person does not want to get personal and that he needs to be more succinct in his dealings.” I have experienced the same, and so this scenario is a good example that demonstrates where a human touch is still needed: when you have to connect with people for a specific purpose, such as lining up interviews with subject matter experts for thought leadership articles, publishing articles and blog posts for more exposure, and providing clarification in response to questions.
With that said, the Stern Strategy Group author also mentioned that some new technology is useful for tasks such as social media publishing and certain parts of media list compilation and management, as well as analytics and reporting. However, to effectively conduct your business, many tools could be unnecessary; especially if you’re working with a limited budget. So what tools should you use and when is it better to employ a human touch?
What Tools Do You Actually Need?
This article by Chief Marketer brings up and describes the issue of large companies trying to become more efficient by using an average of 91 different tools and software. Moreover, the article states that there are more than 6,500 marketing tools with no signs of that number’s stagnation. This has led to an issue of bloating where companies are weighing themselves down with various tools that provide irrelevant information. To relate this to the use of this technology by smaller businesses, more is not necessarily better.
In order to find what you actually need, the Chief Marketer article suggests looking for tools that produce at least three times return on investment. As companies learn from their mistakes, they will start to look for more comprehensive tools that more effectively accomplish their objectives. It would be good to keep an eye out for and perhaps try out these new tools, and the rule of getting at least three times return on investment is a good one.
Keep the Humanity in Public Relations
Your marketing and PR program will require some essential technological tools, and you’ll need to be selective in choosing the ones that are right for your organization. While you’re at it, keep in mind that PR is a relationship-based business, so your program will depend as much on the practitioners you have in place to implement that program as the tools you use.
Originally published here.