Compared to marketing and advertising, public relations is still a low-tech business. Unlike digital buying and selling, the process whereby a human being works to place editorial articles or broadcast segments for PR programs is personal, labor-intensive, and hard to scale. PR is gradually becoming more science than art, but it’s a slow process

Yet even diehard media relations professionals need to update their programs with new tools and technologies. In some cases that means a fresh look at the media relations engine that drives many campaigns. Here are six “PR hacks” that top media relations pros use to accelerate a PR campaign.

“Hacks” to Enable Today’s PR Programs

Use fresh data. A mundane journalist pitch can be greatly strengthened by a few data points― provided they are original and up-to-the-minute. It pays to go beyond widely available stats from public-domain sources; think instead about an inexpensive, single-question survey to probe customer attitudes about an emerging issue or invest in an analyst report for trend statistics to freshen a pitch.

Use new tools. There are many great tools for PR and media relations professionals to enhance PR programs. The classic sources like Cision database and ProfNet, but also newer “hacks” like email acceleration software (we like ToutApp), the BreakingNews app for emerging stories, and―if budget allows―competitive monitoring engines like TrendKite.

Cultivate freelancers. All good PR programs and people who pitch media have relationships at major publications, but time devoted to cultivating freelancers and regular contributors at major outlets is usually time well spent. These individuals are often doing part of the work for us. They have their own relationships and routinely pitch a select group of editors or producers on hot topics. When it comes to network television, contributors often have greater flexibility to work in brand messages or feature products than the actual full-time broadcast correspondents. Plus, this group is growing as traditional media continues to shed permanent employees.

Jump on breaking news. By now everyone’s aware that you can sometimes hitch a ride on a breaking story to create visibility for your brand. But the key to “newsjacking” is to act fast. The window of opportunity is so narrow that permissions, messages, visual content, and disclosure agreements need to be in place in advance of said news. Moreover, what gives most opportunistic coverage legs is a social or digital component. That’s why Excedrin’s recent social hashtag campaign tied to the third presidential debate was so successful. Its #DebateHeadache hashtag struck the right tone, and the brand was ready to capitalize on a “breaking” story where new memes would be born, but that was scheduled well in advance. Kudos to the brand team for being locked and loaded in anticipation of a real-time social PR push.

Media train clients early. I’ve been reluctant to conduct media training at the start of a program for fear of jumping the gun or setting outsized expectations in the minds of clients, but it’s often a good idea. One reason is because it’s nearly always a learning experience for client and agency because new information comes out of practice interviews and discussions about messaging and sound bites. Even more importantly, many media interview opportunities arise suddenly without the chance for formal media prep. A prepared client always gives a stronger interview, and a stronger interview makes a better story.

Ensure social sharing for big stories. In the old days, we were happy just to land a plum interview or feature story for a big announcement. Today, a top media relations pro and their PR programs will negotiate not only to secure favorable timing and messaging for the piece but to ensure that the story is amplified through social media sharing. Today’s journalists usually have large and influential social followings, and they’re driven to promote their own personal brands, so the synergy of working together to make content shareable is a win-win.