The only thing more important than having the right tools is knowing how to use them. Life here at WILDSTORY, is a wonderfully hectic combination of work, play, experimentation, creativity and managed chaos. We rely on many tools to keep us focused, give our clients the appearance of organization, and allow us the space to deliver amazing creative work.
Here are 10 of our favorite things that make us better public relations professionals:
SaneBox – Until very recently email stressed me out. I’d go into an hour meeting and when I came out I had 88 new emails. Waking up in the morning 150 new emails. My heart would start pounding and my stress levels would rise. What have I missed! Well, it turns out I missed nothing. I would power through my 150 emails realizing 130 were not important or could be dealt with later and 20 needed my attention. Big difference. A good friend of mine heard me lamenting about my inbox problem and suggested SaneBox. SaneBox is simply an email filtering overlay that sits ontop of your email regardless of service or client. We use Google Apps for Business with iOS email clients for example. However, SaneBox will work with Outlook, your email server, or any combination really. Tell SaneBox which emails are important and which ones can wait to later and SaneBox does the rest. Their algorithm is reminiscent of Gmail’s priority inbox but works across all email providers and clients. SaneBox claims this is why they charge a small fee for their service. Currently, I credit this little app as “saving my life”. For reals.
Trello – I think I’ve tried about 20 different “to-do” list apps. None of them stuck. Most of them are linear in format. Simple or complex they’re just places for lists to go to die. Enter Trello. If you’ve ever talked to me for five minutes you’d think I have a serious stock position in Trello. I don’t. Trello is a cloud app that lives in your browser or their free mobile apps and is a visual representation of index cards on cork board – sort of. While Trello appears to be a simple app it’s surprising complex and powerful without ever becoming too clunky. Users can create lists and then build out cards underneath with checklists, comments, URLs, pictures, attachments, etc. Board owners can invite others to their boards, assign cards, and follow project progress real time. We set up a new Trello board every time we get a new client so the team can manage the flow of the project. We also use Trello to store blog ideas and then track the life-cycle of a post from idea to tracking of engagement. I have my own personal board that helps to manage everything from work deliverables, personal life, and kid’s activities. Oh, did I mention it’s FREE?! Trello rocks.
Harvest – Dolla Dolla Bills Yo! As any creative services professional knows tracking time is both horrible and completely necessary. Second to the pain of tracking time is compiling invoices, billing clients, and tracking receivables. Thankfully Harvest solves these issues in an easy to use, elegant, and powerful solution. Their mobile apps as well as their desktop App for Mac makes tracking time a breeze. Employees and contractors can enter time whenever and wherever they are so your tracking and estimates are always up to date. Compiling professional, easy to read invoices is easy breezy and setting automatic past due reminders makes collecting on past due invoices an after thought. Want to accept credit cards? No problem. We integrated our account with Stripe in about 7 minutes. Yes, it was that quick. Ditch the scratchpads and google sheets and start tracking and billing with Harvest.
GoPro – Everyone wants to Be a hero. We never leave home without a GoPro in the bag. This little waterproof, action proof, snowproof, life-proof camera still blows my mind. How can something so basic. So small be so good! We love that limitation in lens (you can’t change it) inspires storytelling creativity in different ways — through innovative mounts and ingenious angles. This is a storyteller’s dream — and GoPro’s just aren’t for hucking off of big pillows. You’d be surprised at how good the camera is out of the housing. Pair up with lav mic and you’ve got a mini studio in your bag. We would be remiss to not mention our must carry still camera. I never go anywhere without my Sony RX100m3 pocket camera. It’s a little bigger than a deck of cards with the picture quality of a full DSLR. Today’s storytelling professional also turns into a photographer for clients – make sure your pics are of high quality.
MindNode – MindNode is a mind-mapping tool. We’re not partial to MindNode itself but rather the concept of mind-mapping. Mind mapping is a great way to brain-storm and make associations you might not have otherwise made. What we like about MindNode is that it’s simple. Not a ton of features to get caught up in so the focus is all about putting down ideas and branching out from there. We typically mind map when we have a new client and we’re trying to really understand the underlying story that makes them tick or to brainstorm ideas on where and who to pitch.
Box – Sending large files is the name of the game for the digital public relations agency. Video. Pictures. Large design files and deliverables. Cloud storage isn’t new, it’s a necessity. Most people are familiar with Dropbox but we’ve fallen in love with Box. Box has a clean, intuitive interface. Great mobile and desktop apps. I was worried that it wouldn’t interface easily with all our other applications but Box is much bigger and more prolific than I realized. Their collaboration features are excellent and make it easy to edit the same document instead of emailing back and forth. The best part about Box? You can get 10GB of storage for free and the paid plan is considerably cheaper than Dropbox.
Evernote – If you want to know everything that’s in my brain, open my Evernote. Taking notes during a meeting, check. Take a photo of a client or a whiteboard or something inspirational and put it right into your notes. We’re constantly clipping client placements and saving them into a shared “portfolio” to reference with other clients and the team. After client meetings with multiple team members I share my notes so everyone has access. More information, better decisions, happier clients. We are big fans of using tags for different client’s, industries, and ideas. Evernote is on my desktop, on my Macbook Air, on my mobile devices. It’s everywhere and is always up to date. You know Everyone has it figured out when it seems so basic and so simple but you know it’s not. I’ve also become quite partial to Moleskine Evernote Notebooks with grid paper. I take photos of all my sketches and notes and they go right into Evernote. So Ever-Easy.
Awesome by-product of using Evernote is other than my sketch notebook I hardly ever use any paper. Besides not being able to read my own handwriting half the time I’m no longer dealing with scraps of paper holding my genius that I can’t find or get thrown away.
Pandora – I’m jamming to Pandora right now as I write this! The ability to set up limitless stations based on environment and mood cannot be under appreciated. Paired with a pair of high quality headphones, like my Sennheiser Momentums, Pandora seals out the world and let’s you get to the task at hand. I’m sitting at a noisy coffee shop right now and all I can hear is Beta Band’s “Dry the Rain”. I’m in the groove. I am writing. I am creative! That’s the power of Pandora.
Talkwalker Alerts – Talkwalker’s core product is a social media intelligence platform that delivers actionable data insights to its clients. Sounds cool but we’re not talking about that. We’re talking about Talkwalker’s FREE media alerts that are a direct competitor to Google’s FREE media alerts. Any media relations professional worth their salt uses Google Alerts and we’re not suggesting you stop. However, we’ve found that Google Alerts misses a lot of smaller media mentions. Just as we were about to sign up for an extremely expensive media monitoring service we discovered Talkwalker Alerts. Talkwalker seems to fill in the gaps of Google Alerts and together they make an extremely powerful combo for… you guessed it, FREE. Talkwalker is especially good at picking up blogs, forum posts, smaller mainstream digital publications, etc. Finding out about the media we’ve placed is crucial. No one wants to hear from the client first – it’s what WE do! Talkwalker will keep you on top of your game. Add it to your public relations quiver now. Don’t even think about it.
iPhone – It might be obvious but we took a poll of the thing we used most as medial relations and storytelling professionals. It probably comes as no surprise that our iPhones came in at #1 by a long shot. It still blows my mind that we can communicate in infinitely different ways, take pictures, access content, read books, listen to books, record notes, access notes, and on and on. I don’t think we could list all the ways our iPhones make us happier and better public relations pros.
Honorable mention: Cision, Google Alerts, TweetDeck, Hootsuite, Google Apps, Canva, Lighthouse Conferencing, Sennheiser Headphones, Pilot G-Tec-C4 pens, Vimeo, YouTube, Mac, H.A.R.O., Audible, Facebook, Instagram. Moleskin Evernote Notebook.
**Neither the author anyone at WILDSTORY has any direct involvement with any of the companies mentioned (except Lighthouse Conferencing – but they’re still awesome). We do not represent or work with any companies and these are our own, unfiltered, and honest opinions. This is just stuff we like and personally use.**
What do you think about our top 10 list of public relations tools? Join the discussion and leave your comments below.
Lastly, please feel free to contact us directly. You can always send us a message via our contact form or email me directly at: mgutman at wildstory dot com
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