Top Digital PR Tools for Your Strategy

Digital PR is on the rise, globally, and we at Digital Third Coast are always on the lookout for the next big thing or innovative trend. Especially when it’s a tool that makes our jobs easier, tactics more effective, and results more impressive.

Here, we break down the best tools for digital marketers and public relations professionals in 2023.

The Best Digital PR Tools for Ideation/Research

1. SEMrush

SEMrush is a jack-of-all-trades platform for SEO, PPC, and content marketing that will take your game to the next level.

We use this tool to conduct keyword research, competitor analyses, and on-page SEO audits. It also has an SEO writing assistant that allows us to be sure that our text is unique and optimized to drive more organic traffic to our site.

Pricing starts at $119.95 per month and includes more than 40 tools and features.

2. Exploding Topics

Want a weekly email of inspiration and a finger on the pulse of what the internet is most interested in at the same time? Exploding Topics is a weekly newsletter and website that looks at particularly viral Google search trends and compiles them into a sleek, easy-to-read newsletter.

This is a great way to see what Americans are thinking about AND find inspiration in trending topics that might not be front of mind. For instance, Exploding Topics recently highlighted a 2100% spike in searches for Powerdash, a vacuum for pet owners. This could prompt a campaign on chores, cleaning, pets, or even household appliance spending!

The weekly newsletter is free, but the pro plan starts at $39/month and includes access to the Exploding Topics database as well as an in-depth analysis of trends.

3. Google Trends

Ever wanted to know, at a glance, how many people might be looking up a certain topic? Or how interest in a subject has grown (or shrunk) over time? One of the most powerful tools at your disposal is Google Trends, which can example trends on a national or local scale. We use this as a source for many of our campaigns and it’s hard to resist as it serves as a definitive source for journalists: the data can’t lie.

4. Chrome Extensions

One of the beauties of browsing the internet is that it is full of near-infinite ideas and possibilities. One of the perils of browsing the internet is that all of these ideas can feel overwhelming and make ideation even harder. What to do?

Enter: Chrome extensions. These browser tools help you examine, find insight, and even check metrics without having to launch yet another tab (if you’re anything like me, you might have a shameful amount of tabs open, even as you read this).

Some of our favorites include:

  • Glimpse – Will provide Google trend insights at the click of a mouse
  • MozBar – Can provide website metric info like domain authority, spam score, and how many sites link to it. 
  • SEO Meta in 1 Click – Does exactly what its name promises: provides backend SEO info
  • NoFollow – Will highlight NoFollow links in red
  • Pinterest – Save images that inspire you at a glance and refer back to them for creative briefs, content inspiration, and more
  • Grammarly – We are all fallible writers: Grammarly helps proofread

5. SparkToro

SparkToro is an audience research tool that crawls social media networks to see what your audience is interested in and talking about. Plug in a client’s website, or even your own, and see what social media insights a page’s visitors are providing.

The platform looks at social bios, keywords, websites visited, and more. This is especially powerful if you’re looking to create relevant content and trying to figure out how to capture the interest of a client’s audience! 

Pricing: SparkToro has a free version, and paid versions start at $50/month.

The Best Digital PR Tools for Outreach

1. Business Wire

For brands that rely on press releases, investing in Business Wire is a no-brainer and one of the best digital PR tools. With a reach of more than 162 countries, over 200 industry categories, and access to 100,000 media outlets, Business Wire is a well-known leader in the press release space and one of the top PR tools out there.

Business Wire users have access to press release distribution (including newsrooms, individual journalists, consumers, bloggers, and more), as well as interactive media, and online newsrooms. The platform’s preferred partnerships aren’t to be ignored and include the Associated Press, Bloomberg, and more – all great placements for your backlink profile.

Another great tool marketers should keep an eye on in Business Wire is the Smart News Release. The Multimedia Desk will optimize files with photos, videos, and more before preparing them for distribution. Oftentimes, these files appear in publications such as Yahoo Finance, MarketWatch, and the New York Times. Any opportunity to make a journalist’s life easier with prepackaged assets and a ready-made story will be bound to have good results and is a top digital PR tool for any PR pro.

Sign up for an account for pricing information.

2. BuzzStream

BuzzStream’s software is a good fit for any digital marketer focused on digital PR, link building, or content promotion. The platform allows for easy research, pitching, contact managing, and reporting. 

When we say easy, we mean it: BuzzStream includes automatic list building and has the ability to automatically identify contact information, website statistics, and social metrics from a list of URLs. Pitches can be segmented and personalized, and reminders can be set or follow-ups can be completely automated based on defined rules.

Pricing for BuzzStream subscriptions starts at $24 per month.

BuzzStream homepage

3. Cision

DTC’s outreach department is a group of Cision power users. We use Cision more than any other online PR tool. Its database of more than one billion contacts allows us to build and curate our contact lists, send targeted pitches, track success, and manage contacts.

Each day, our team is able to curate many highly tailored, specific lists from thousands of contacts and schedule pitches for outreach for each campaign. By developing refreshed contact lists from Cision’s press database of thousands upon thousands of journalists worldwide and filtering for things like DMA, subject matter, language, job role, and more, it’s easy for PR pros to get their pitch to a very specific group of journalists.

Cision also has a robust outlet contact database, which makes pitching newsrooms a breeze. One can schedule pitches to optimize open rates and also monitor KPIs for each pitch with a simple click.

By checking open rates as well as click rates per round of outreach, we are better able to create an agile, targeted outreach strategy in subsequent rounds based on data.

Cision's website

The cloud-based communication software also includes social media management, monitoring, publishing, and reporting. Its social stream integration lets you monitor contacts’ Twitter feeds in real time and see what’s being talked about in the news today.

Cision has also partnered with PR Newswire to help users reach more than 3,000 newsrooms and 10,0000 websites in 170 countries worldwide. Cision’s ability to get your pitches in front of journalists is unparalleled, making it one of the best digital PR tools in our repertoire.

Pricing for Cision’s services can be requested here.

4. Critical Mention

In addition to providing users with TV, radio, news, podcast, and social monitoring, Critical Mention is home to a database with millions of contacts and outlets. Each one is locatable by topic, job title, and more. Together, these make up what Critical Mention calls an Earned Media Suite that encompasses the entire PR cycle, from targeting and pitching to monitoring and tracking.

A host of well-known brands, including McDonald’s and CBS, use Critical Mention. 

Packages and pricing are scalable, and each plan is tailored to users’ needs. Quotes for Critical Mention can be requested online, here.

5. HARO

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is another Digital Third Coast favorite. We use it almost daily to find opportunities for ourselves and our clients to be quoted. Sourcing services such as HARO provide direct links between subject matter experts (us or our clients) and journalists looking to enhance their upcoming stories with quotes. Conveniently, Cision also partners with HARO to streamline our processes even more! 

Users will receive three emails a day with requests – and with over 75,000 journalists and bloggers taking advantage of HARO, the possibilities are endless.

A number of major publications, including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Time, use HARO. But keep in mind, many are on tight deadlines that require fast responses to secure a quote and placement.

The best part is that HARO is free to sign up.

6. Muck Rack

Muck Rack is like the Google of journalists — a veritable search engine for media contact information. Its database is extremely current and includes many journalists and freelancers that other databases don’t have.

No, really, users can search for relevant journalists by topic, name, role, keyword, or outlet. Users can then build media lists, send pitches, create news alerts, and keep track of how campaigns are performing, including backlink monitoring.

At Digital Third Coast, we like to use Muck Rack in tandem with Cision to build even more powerful, targeted media lists.

We also rely on Muck Rack’s State of Journalism report (released annually) for insights on how journalists use social media, react to pitches, and more.

Pricing for Muck Rack, as well as a free demo of the platform, can be requested online, here.

Muck Rack homepage

7. Meltwater

Meltwater prides itself on helping marketers stay on top of their strategy and performance with a host of services, including media relations, PR reporting, and newswire distribution.

Digital marketers may want to take advantage of everything Meltwater has to offer, but their media relations software is most appealing. With it, users can distribute wires, discover relevant journalists using filters such as beats, outlets, and location, and manage relationships. Plus, with analytics and interactive dashboards, reporting is made easy.

If you’re curious in learning more, you can request a demo for Meltwater online.

8. Prowly

Prowly allows PR and marketing experts to streamline all of the moving parts. The all-in-one platform includes a media database of more than 1,000,000 contacts, a press release creator, pitching software, and a contact management system.

As if that’s not enough, users can also publish their press releases in fully customizable online newsrooms that act as a journalist go-to for brand news. Prowly users include major brands like Johnson & Johnson, Citi, and Vimeo.

Prowly’s pricing starts at $98 per month. Tthey offer a 7-day free trial for new users.

Prowly homepage

9. Prezly

Keep your contact lists clean and updated with Prezly, a multiplatform marketing tool that helps digital marketers ‘tell their story’ from building websites to CRM and email outreach capability. For emails, Prezly will track open rates, clicks, and any engagement and allow you to package multimedia assets within your emails. For PR teams that rely on spreadsheets to manage their contacts, Prezly creates a contact database fit for any PR team. It also lets you issue press releases and create “newsrooms” for each client showcasing coverage and other updates.

Prezly pricing starts at $50 per user, per month and scales up depending on need.

10. ChatGPT

While very new to the world, ChatGPT has already hit the digital marketing world by storm. Best used as an assistant, particularly in writing, you can prompt ChatGPT for subject lines, angles, and even pitches- but be aware it has no connection to facts per se, only the probability that certain words come after others.

This means that in constructing your asks of ChatGPT, be sure to input any data you want to be included in the pitch: don’t rely on it to read a web page or anything else. It will provide fake data very confidently, so always double-check! 

Chat GPT answering, "do you provide inaccurate data?"

ChatGPT is available for free, and priced options start at $20/month.

The Best Digital PR Tools for Monitoring

1. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo offers thorough content discovery and research, plus access to influencers and monitoring.

Recently they have also released a Media Database, AI pitching, and the ability to outreach to 700,000 journalists.

A screenshot of Buzzsumo's media database showing a search for journalists

Some key features include:

  • Index of 700K journalists, 2M contact details, 150K topics
  • Journalist profiles with beats, contact info, social profiles, publications, recent/popular content
  • Ability to verify journalists based on average engagement, domain authority, and reactions
  • Save journalists to Media Lists for outreach
  • AI-assisted pitching and personalization
  • Journalist and content alerts via inbox or Slack
  • Chrome extension for analyzing journalists across X / Twitter
  • 350K profile updates per month with latest bio, contact, topic, article, and metric info

We at Digital Third Coast use BuzzSumo to monitor backlinks – ours and our competition’s. This is a vital digital PR tool and crucial to any digital PR strategy.

BuzzSumo’s “Monitoring” feature allows us to create and receive alerts whenever we, or our clients, receive an inbound link.

For content-specific monitoring, we set up alerts to the exact URL of our client’s campaign. Then we choose how we’d like to be alerted (pro tip: set up a Slack integration for instant alerts for easy, automatic updates).

Buzzsumo's monitoring and alerts showing the ability to set up a backlink alert integrated with Slack

We also set up alerts for our competitors’ domains as well. We’ve found that one of the best ways to find more backlink opportunities for our clients is to monitor the spaces their competitors are taking up. When we track a competitor’s brand mentions, we’re able to target new coverage for our own clients – and keep up with what people are talking about.

Pricing starts at $159, and new BuzzSumo users can try the service for free for 30 days.

2. Talkwalker

Our Digital PR pros use Talkwalker for monitoring brand mentions that our other alerts don’t always pick up. While primarily for digital marketers, Talkwalker provides consumer insight and use cases for social media as well as social media and internet monitoring. It helps marketers gain further insight into their audiences and better tailor overall marketing strategy.

Talkwalker has a free social media monitoring tool as well as free alerts from across the web: make sure no mentions pass you by! 

3. Moz

At DTC, we love Moz. It’s great for all things SEO and Digital PR: from evaluating keywords and grading pages of content to monitoring for backlinks.

We use it primarily to check for backlinks. The “Link Explorer” page provides a strong sense of any digital PR piece’s backlink profile. By selecting “inbound links,” you can see exactly what websites are linking to your piece, as well as their domain authority (DA). This is necessary for reporting all the links you achieved with your hard work in outreach! 

Moz's website

Moz will also let you research keywords, competitors, and more, which is always a help when ideating your next campaign! 

Moz offers some free tools- we love the MozBar Chrome extension, which will give you the DA of any website at a glance in your browser. That said, for full use of Moz, Moz Pro starts at $79/month and scales from there. 

4. Ahrefs

You might have noticed that we have several platforms that we use to search the web for backlinks: Ahrefs is another powerful tool. We use it in tandem with both Moz and BuzzSumo to have a reasonably complete and comprehensive sense of backlinks for any content campaign.

At its most basic, AHRefs is a powerful SEO tool to track keywords, site rankings, and other SEO metrics for any given web page. As part of this function, it scrapes the web for backlinks and we have found that it often finds links that other platforms don’t.

Screenshot ahrefs

As you can see, AHRefs offers a ton of information ABOUT the backlinks as well: whether they’re “Do Follow” or “No Follow” – an important part of link equity – as well as traffic and an approximation of domain authority per linking domain. For pieces that syndicate, AHRefs offers a handy backlink export that also helps you sort through hundreds of links with ease.

Ahrefs “Lite” starts at $99/month and scales up in both logins and power accordingly.

Top AI Tools for Digital PR

As we all know, AI has taken the digital marketing world by storm, and digital PR is no exception. While it can’t do our job for us (yet?), it can certainly make our lives easier by helping speed up key parts of the process. Here are some of our favorite tools:

ChatGPT + Plugins

We would be remiss if we didn’t start with the platform that sparked the AI revolution in digital marketing (and the rest of the world): OpenAI’s ChatGPT.

ChatGPT is a text-based chatbot that integrates DALL-E 2, its image creating cousin, as well as data analysis capabilities. GPT4, the most recent iteration of ChatGPT, can help with everything from optimizing texts, to summarizing pages, to even running Python code and analyzing data. We like to use it to brainstorm some different pitch angles and find new approaches to analyzing data– but we also always double check its work.

ChatGPT has a free version as well as a paid version; paid subscriptions start at $20 per month with ChatGPT Plus. 

Bard/Gemini/Google Workspace AI

Google’s December 2023 announcement of Gemini has made a splash, and with Gemini, Bard and Google workspace are both powerful tools that are already integrated within Google suite.

Just like ChatGPT, Bard/Bard-with-Gemini are chatbots that help you with your tasks, whether it’s generating writing or even coming up with content or keyword ideas for your campaigns. Even better, integration of AI into Google Workspace applications like Docs and Sheets can make everything from drafting blog posts to analyzing data streamlined and simple- without having to use and learn yet another outside platform to do so. 

Bard, which is currently integrated with Gemini Pro, has several Google extensions around flights, hotels, and more, which will take data from the web and integrate. It seems to be particularly adept at event planning and similar tasks. When prompted, Bard stated that a new, presumably paid version of Bard, Bard Advanced, will be available in 2024.

Muck Rack’s PressPal

Muck Rack, one of the best press outreach platforms out there, jumped early on the AI bandwagon with its release of PressPal.ai, a platform designed to aid in media outreach. It will generate a press release and cultivate a media list within seconds using only some keywords inputted by the user.

While the press release is less useful for targeted pitching for digital PR outreach, instant list creation is never a bad thing- particularly when it focuses on relevance of articles. Considering that by Muckrack’s own data irrelevant pitches are a major detractor about PR from journalists, this tool could become a game changer. 

PressPal comes with a Muckrack subscription.

Image Generating Platforms 

One of our favorite uses of AI in digital PR is image generation. From creating on-brand, on-subject header images to content campaigns to creating entire linkbuilding campaigns based on the imaginative application of AI’s powers, image generation is fun and simple.

Some of our preferred platforms include Midjourney, which sports one of the most customizable and powerful image generator bots, creating images that have won photography and art competitions, not to mention tricked press. While its learning curve is steep, its potential is near limitless.

We also use OpenAI’s DALL-E, which is integrated into ChatGPT Plus. Another powerful tool, particularly if you have specific image resolution or dimension needs, is Adobe’s Firefly, which comes in its Creative Cloud suite as well as in a free version offered on its own.

Like this Adobe Firefly Image we whipped up in 2 seconds for this blog!

With toggles and the ability to create AI imagery within photoshop and within pre-selected ranges, Firefly creates a more selective use of AI that could help infographics pop even more in a saturated field. 

End-to-End Platforms: Jasper, Content at Scale, and more

There is a secondary AI arms race, and that is companies that claim to have created so-called end-to-end AI content platforms.

Jasper, Content at Scale, PRophet, and more all offer a vehicle to turn some keywords or even subject ideas into fully optimized content and, in the case of PRophet, will even then develop a pitch and press list to perform outreach. For smaller businesses or even marketing departments looking to expand their scope without additional manpower, these might be worth considering. Pricing varies for each platform. 

Find the Right Digital PR Tools for You

Marketing and PR professionals across the country are always on the hunt for the next big digital marketing tool. But not every agency is pursuing the same digital PR results.

While some are interested in monitoring media coverage and building relationships with journalists, others have more tangible metrics to track and are looking for PR reporting tools.

Regardless of the aims of your broader marketing campaigns, these are some of the best digital PR services that when used individually, or in tandem, can help you achieve your goals.

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