The days of organizing all your media contacts on scraps of paper and jotting email addresses on post-it notes are over (wait, you know they’re over, right?).
These days, PR pros have access to tons of programs, platforms, and applications that help to make their jobs easier. Whether you’re trying to organize your contacts, find new ones, write a killer press release or follow up with those you send it to, there are tools to streamline and automate just about everything.
But the strange thing is that the adoption of these tools varies a lot in PR offices. Part of this is due to a reliance on old-school methods that work, but there are still lots of question marks around the issue of how tech is used in PR, how common it is and what tools are the most popular.
We at Prowly have been following this topic for some time and recently decided to conduct detailed market research based on their own contacts in the industry to get a better feel for how technology is changing the way the game is played.
The result is The State of PR Technology 2022, which helps anyone trying to keep a finger on the pulse of how PR is evolving. It looks at how tech is used in PR and the tools we increasingly rely on for effective outreach and media contact management.
How the Prowly Report Was Created
One of the sparks that promoted our interest in learning more about tech in PR was the discovery that Google searches for “PR analytics software” have quadrupled during the past three years.
This was an unmistakable sign that both an awareness of tech tools and an interest in what they can do were pushing lots of PR professionals to learn more about what they were missing out on.
This was a welcome sign that the PR industry, still clinging to traditional ways of working and a latecomer to tech trends, was at long last recognizing the benefits of streamlining operations with digital tools.
To see just how fast this awareness was spreading, we assembled an extensive questionnaire asking about what kinds of tools industry professionals used, what they used them for, how often, and more.
The questionnaire was sent out to nearly two hundred contacts throughout the world of PR.
While waiting for the responses to come in, we turned our focus inward to user data from our own application as well as insights provided by our partners at Semrush.
After the surveys were returned and the statistics were put under a microscope for analysis, we reached out to influencers and important voices for commentary on the findings of the research.
Their feedback was a great way to bridge objective user data and subjective survey results with professional insights into what it all means.
The final result is a snapshot of where PR is today as it gradually adapts and embraces digital capabilities that help them meet the challenges of its daily work.
The overall trend is towards greater adoption of these tools but, as we found out, the use of technology in PR is uneven and focused on some tasks more than others.
What You’ll Find In the Report
The information in the report is as varied as the questions they ask.
Broadly speaking, the topics are grouped like this:
- If respondents use tech tools and, if so, what they use them for and if they’re satisfied with them.
- Separate sections ask what tools respondents use for press release creation, finding and managing media contacts, PR pitching, and monitoring and measuring responses to outreach.
- General questions ask about important pain points and priority challenges to be solved.
At every step along the way, you’ll see stats and answers that will surprise you and paint a picture of an industry that still seems to be far from agreement when it comes to the best ways to take care of the essential tasks of PR work.
The State of PR Technology 2022
It’s hard to pick just a handful of highlights to mention here, but we found these to be among the most interesting bits and pieces in the full report.
- Google Docs and Microsoft Word are way more commonly used than they should be (but we understand why it’s like this). When it’s time to write a news release, nearly everyone reaches for the same tool they use to write just about everything else—the all-purpose, totally-not-designed-for-PR word processors from two giants of the online world. On one hand, this isn’t so surprising because these tools are familiar to so many people. On the other hand, it’s surprising that so few people have discovered the convenience of creating news releases on a tool that is integrated with your contact database, previous releases, visual elements, etc. If streamlining your workflow and getting things done faster is your goal, a dedicated tool for writing news releases is the way to go.
- Everything takes a lot longer without PR software. Speaking of saving time, the feedback gathered in the report erases any doubt about the convenience that PR tech tools deliver. In a breakdown of the time needed to accomplish various PR tasks with and without dedicated digital support, we learn that the whole pitching process takes about 45 minutes instead of four or five hours, creating a media list takes one hour instead of 10, and building an online newsroom will keep you busy for two hours instead of two days.
- Sending pitches directly from a PR platform is rare. We’re not done with Google and Microsoft quite yet. Their email clients, Gmail and Outlook, were the default choice for sending PR pitches for 74% of the respondents in the survey, compared to just 15% who used tools designed for PR, such as Prowly or Muck Rack. The same idea from writing news releases applies here—it’s a question of using what you know—but it’s still strange to see general tools dominate like this when better options are available.
- And the #1 answer is…“None”? That’s the situation for the question “Which tool do you use for media monitoring?” for nearly 30% of respondents. This is an amazing result given how much we hear about media monitoring these days and how crucial it is to effective PR. Even Google Alerts is better than nothing, right? This is another example of how something you thought was near-universal is, in fact, still ignored by a sizable minority.
Lots of Other Surprises Await, Too
The State of PR Technology 2022 provides a fascinating look behind the curtains of the PR world while also giving you a chance to compare your own habits to those included in the report.
When you read, for example, the top replies to “Did you struggle with any of the following in the last 12 months?” will you nod your head in agreement or wonder why these things are so easy for you?
When you see the top answer to “Where do you store your media lists?”, will you say “Well, yeah, doesn’t everyone?” or will you think about what an outlier you might be?
These are just some of the great questions that educate and make readers consider if it might be time to rethink how they make tech tools part of their daily routine.
In fact, for many readers, the report just might be the spark they need to take a good look at what they’re missing out on by not taking advantage of tools that automate and streamline PR work.