While some things in PR can't be automated and will always require a fair share of human relationship know-how or critical thinking, one of the most exciting things about the current state of the industry is the vast amount of tools and solutions that -- although not necessarily designed with PRTech in mind -- are a surefire way to make a PR pro's job a little easier.

Here, I share a few tools and tricks PR pros can start using today to get more organized and garner better results. From handy email add-ons for media relations management to mining data for more targeted and effective pitches, this list is an easy albeit effective win.

1. Use Boomerang to schedule emails and Respondable to nail "tone"

Boomerang is a long-loved Gmail plugin that helps PR and communications professionals manage their inboxes. "In PR, timing is everything," says Aye Moah, co-founder and chief of product for Boomerang. "This tool helps PR professionals get the right timing in all their email communications." Moah suggests using Boomerang to schedule emails so they hit journalists' inboxes first thing in the morning or just after lunch in order to increase the odds that your message is read.

Also created by the folks at Boomerang, Respondable helps communications professionals nail the right tone in emails. For example, it can help to ensure that your email to a journalist is positive without being too sugary. Likewise, if you're emailing a reporter who misinterpreted a quote, Respondable can help to ensure you're not coming across too negatively.

2. Create video pitches with ViewedIt

For those times when it's way easier to show a reporter how something works as opposed to explaining it via lengthy text, use ViewedIt to create an easy-to-share video of you walking them through a series of actions on your computer screen. The tool allows you to track who watches it, so you're never in the dark about if your video (and hence message) was received or viewed.

P.S. This tool is super easy to use and our sales team at AirPR recently began using it for more personalized outreach and interactive demos. Because, you know, who wants the same boring email?

3. Track emails with Bananatag

Whether you're a member of an internal communications team and need to measure how many employees read your new PTO policy or want to see if a reporter opened your pitch, Bananatag lets you track up to five emails a day for free. It's a little like Yesware, which also offers a free trial.

4. Create data-driven pitches with Qualtrics

The best stories are based on data, and Qualtrics provides you with current, accurate data to incorporate into pitches, bylines, infographics, speeches, and more. I recently discovered it, and it has quickly become a PR tool I recommend to all my data-savvy PR pals.

With Qualtrics, you can easily gather data and insights on almost any topic under the sun in a matter of hours to create more compelling, timely stories for the readers you want to reach.

Fun fact: Qualtrics' own Head of PR uses the technology to pitch everything from holiday shopping trends to what keeps Fortune 100 CEOs awake at night. The result? Hundreds of data-driven media placements.

5. Pitch or produce a podcast with tools like Audacity

Edison Research's Infinite Dial 2016 report found that podcast listening is showing a sharp increase from years prior. This raises two thoughts for today's PR pros: 1) Should I be pitching podcasters, and 2) Should the brand I represent be producing their own? I spoke with Richard Davies, veteran radio news anchor, podcaster, and owner of his own podcast production firm to get his take on the topic. 

"The biggest mistake PR people make when pitching a podcaster is that they don't know the types of stories we're interested in," says Davies. "Listen to more than one of our podcasts so you know what we cover. The other mistake is that pitches are often way too long."

Davies suggests keeping pitch length to a paragraph or less and including a link to a sound clip of the person you're hoping the podcaster will interview to show what they're like on air.

And if you're considering producing your own podcast, Davies recommends starting out with an Audio Technica microphone setup which you can find on Amazon for under $80. Use digital audio recording and editing software Audacity for free to experiment with creating your own content.

The bottom line? Smart tools save you time and energy -- resources you could be spending on higher-level strategy, which will likely be music to your executives' ears!

Published on: Feb 2, 2017
The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.