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PR TechTalk: Key Infrastructure Tools and How We’re Using Them

Tips and tools from Michelle Olson, APR, general manager of Fingerpaint, and Aly Saxe, CEO of IRIS PR Software

A recording of this teleseminar is available here.

A proprietary tool just for us

In the November 12/60 Teleseminar we learned about a propriety tool built specifically for the public relations practitioner.

IRIS PR Software, a software as a service (SaaS) platform developed by company CEO Aly Saxe, which among other things solves the problem of disjointed record keeping and tracking of media outreach. While working as an agency founder, Aly and her team managed activities in spreadsheets and emails, and found it challenging to measure efforts made on behalf of their clients. Thus the birth of the product.

Too much information in too many places

Aly was tired of having to store information in many different places, not easily accessed, and without the ability to measure effectiveness of efforts. So she hired a software developer to build IRIS PR Software, specifically meeting the needs of the public relations practitioner. IRIS PR Software stores all contact with a media representative, and among many team members, in one place.

You don’t want to blind- or double-pitch a reporter. And I strongly believe in targeted pitching. – Aly Saxe

Campaign management and analytics

IRIS PR Software also manages press releases (which they call campaigns) and supplies data on the success (or failure) of each. A metric is built in, geared toward a 50 percent success rate. For a new user, all that is needed is a media contact’s email address. Once the list of media contacts are loaded, the record becomes populated. Updates are quick and easy. When you pitch someone new, a new contact is created. It tracks all engagement with a media representative. For independent practitioners, it can also help manage freelancers or work with other agencies.

Another benefit of IRIS PR Software: it can demonstrate to that client, who insists on a press release, that it isn’t the way to go. By simply sharing data on a similar campaign that didn’t do well via that route, you can make your point.

Watch IRIS PR Software’s product demo here.

It drove me nuts that tech tools were often unaffordable to the independent practitioner. We have a version of IRIS PR Software available for $40/month, with no annual contract. – Aly Saxe

Not a dashboard in sight for digital communication management

Michelle Olson is a user of IRIS PR Software and, in fact, her company participated in the product’s BETA test.

Michelle cited an issue (and lack of a tool) to manage digital content, especially for her client base which represents different industries. Since there isn’t a dashboard to do that, her agency has been using Excel to list content/subject, author, where it’s sent, reporters’ hashtags, and the ad spend for that campaign.

Michelle says tool selection is important, and it should serve to save you time. Budget should be considered as well – many platforms are free but begin to charge once you reach a certain threshold or content limit. Also, be aware that many vendors will add features to their tool, but not announce it; rather they “push it out” without a lot of warning.

After you have completed a product demo, don’t hesitate to negotiate a rate with a vendor. Before you purchase, make sure the vendor understands exactly what you need from the tool. – Michelle Olson

Michelle shared common areas which require tracking and measurement and the tools her agency is using to do so. They include: media monitoring (BurrellesLuce and Google Alerts), social media monitoring (NUVI), media relations (IRIS PR Software), and a newsroom.

Michelle highly recommends NUVI and compares it to a more expensive, enterprise-level product, Radian6. NUVI allows you to publish, engage and listen to influencers and across sites you specify. It will allow you to target key words or phrases by geography, plug in key words that indicate a positive or negative segment as it relates to your campaign, and monitor who is continuing the conversation after the campaign is pushed. It will even alert you if there’s a sentiment change. Payment is made by number of mentions. For example, it costs about $600 for 100,000 mentions/month.

To stay on top of tools that are useful to our field, subscribe to tech newsletters that cover our industry. – Michelle Olson

Other recommendations she made for time-saving tools include:

  • HootSuite for scheduling and managing social media posts.
  • Canva to create infographics. It’s free!
  • Bitly to shorten URLs.
  • Pitchengine, PR Newswire, and Business Wire for newsroom tools. Though they limit the amount of branding you’re able to do, and limit the number of uploads.


Aly and Michelle are happy to connect. They can be reached as follows:

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