PR has always been a grey area for the marketing department. While no one will dispute the morale boost and brand recognition that comes from getting a piece written about your company in a major broadsheet, the truth is that is only really going to happen on an ongoing basis for major corporations and household brand names.

For the big leagues there is Meltwater Group (which also makes SaaS products for SEO and journalist discovery) and another clippings service called Burrelles Luce that is more targeted towards broadcast mentions.

For the rest of us we had Google Alerts, but then Google Alerts become abandonware along with Reader. 

When I set about researching this post, I spoke with several founders including Travis Van of IT Database in search of tips and tricks for us smaller players. While I do have some SaaS products to throw in after these discussions, the main takeaway we all agreed on is to narrow a scope as much as possible and define reasonable metrics for your outreach early.

Another key starting place before tying metrics to your outreach campaign is to define your aggregators. In my particular line of work, PR for early and mid-stage startups, Techmeme is considered a go-to aggregator for industry news, and the website also has a leaderboard listing out publications that drive the most traffic. 

Lets say the top 25 publications on the Techmeme leaderboard have an average of 10 writers. That’s 250 people to research and outreach. Out of those 250, a goal could be to get 15 to write about your message.

According to Travis:

The truth is there is still a ton of hunting and tagging to do out there. Even with the best-of-breed industry tools like Vocus/CIsion and all the bots, it’s very tough to automate.

Pro TIP: Set a narrow scope for the industry and/or message and you are going to show better ROI.

It may seem as though I’m getting ahead of myself here, but by defining success metrics clearly and making them specific for your goals/industry, you are going to save yourself a whole lot of headache in the tracking and ROI reporting down the line. Another important thing to consider is tiering out the types of coverage you are attempting to drive. Of course an “influencer share” is totally different than a media hit, and so they should be tracked seperately for reporting, but the secondary ticketing website Seatgeek took it one step further and defined press hits using Seatgeek data as one metric, while mentions about the company and business were seen as a higher tier. 

Once you have decided on your tiers and your success metrics, check out some of these handy tools.


Pipedrive is a low-cost CRM that many consider to be a Salesforce alternative for the sales/marketing side of the office. It’s SaaS that lives in the cloud, launches in your browser (works great in Chrome) or via their iOS app for mobile, and it does a great job tracking contacts while helping you accomplish multi-stage tasks — like getting into contact with journalists, briefing them, and hopefully securing a media mention.

Pro Tip: Don’t forget to take advantage of the Dropbox BCC function which lets Pipedrive track and organize every email you send out against the appropriate contact. If you are running Google Apps (Gmail) it is even simpler to set up!


Buzzstream is a very smart tool built from the ground up for link building and content promotion. You can read a great write up and summary that Jason Falls of Social Media Explorer did when they launched here.

In my opinion, Buzzstream was really built for SEO and back-linking, and to be honest it has a pretty high learning curve compared to a dead simple import/export tracking tool like Pipedrive, but I have nothing but great things to say about their support staff, and if you look at the list of their current users/clients it is really a who-is-who of online marketing.


File Braqes in the “one to watch” category, as I don’t have too much info or personal testing with the platform yet. Jack Denton, a UK entrepreneur and Founder of All About Group is starting Braqes along with Vincent Haywood in order to come up with a time-saving tool for the PR world.

According to Denton:

Braqes will generate campaign reports in minute rather than days. For example, a report for a campaign for The Kings Speech by a Top 50 PR agency took five days to produce manually, but Braqes did the same report in 30 minutes, which saves a lot of billable hours!

The Beta is currently being revised and updated with the full site launching in the first quarter of 2014.

Inky Bee

Inky Bee is yet another all-in-one SaaS for discovery/outreach/tracking and measurement. Founder Hugh Anderson has it in for spreadsheets, which is truly beneficial for all of us on the communications side, because the reporting and measurement side of Inky Bee is able to produce custom reports using Google Analytics data and your campaign history in it’s platform.

I haven’t had too much time to spend with Inky Bee yet, but I plan to organize a campaign and get started with it soon enough.

Do you have tools for PR reporting and measurement that you can’t live without, or, an all together different approach? I’d love to hear about it in comments!