Communication Tools Every Communication Professional Must Use


Debra Davenport, Faculty

Contemporary public relations (PR) practice is complex, creative, technical – and exacting. There is no room for error when communicating a client’s messages and maintaining their brand reputation. And, while technology has greatly enhanced efficiency, speed, and audience reach, it has created a plethora of additional work that did not exist during the days when PR was primarily focused on issuing press releases and contacting the media.

Today’s PR practitioners require professional tools to help them manage their time, contacts, resources, information, and efficacy.

Recently, I conducted a survey of local PR executives to identify the most-used and highly-rated tools for professional practice. I received a wide array of responses and selected several for this month’s blog that I hope you will find helpful as you build your own PR “toolbox”:

  1. The AP Stylebook. This book was widely regarded as the “must-have” PR resource. Referred to as “the journalist’s bible,” the AP (Associated Press) Stylebook provides detailed guidelines for correct journalistic writing. (PR practitioners are expected to be proficient in AP style since much of their communications are intended for dissemination through the news media.)
  2. The Elements of Style, by William Strunk. Considered one of the most iconic books on proper English writing, The Elements of Style is a trusted and easy-to-use resource that every PR professional should have on hand. You can download a free copy here:
  3. Coschedule is an online app that helps users manage content marketing, social media, and blogs. The site also features a valuable “headline analyzer” that determines a headline’s “quality and SEO potential.”
  4. Hemingway App is an online editing site designed to improve grammar, syntax, punctuation, and overall readability. Writers enter their text on the Hemingway website and the program analyzes the content for correctness, while simultaneously offering suggested edits.
  5. Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO is an online service that links journalists and information sources. PR professionals receive daily story requests from journalists for which they can pitch their clients for additional media exposure.
  6. Bulldog Reporter. This comprehensive information clearinghouse provides a wealth of up-to-the-minute industry news, tips, and resources. PR pros can sign up for daily newsletters delivered to their inbox.

And, apparently, technical tools aren’t the only helpful accoutrements for successful PR practice. According to one survey respondent, “I keep sweetgrass and sage at my desk for when things get nutty. I can always just hold it up to my nose and remember why I'm doing what I do...”

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Debra Davenport Ph.D. is a member of the online faculty of Purdue’s online Master of Science in Communication degree program. The program can be completed in just 20 months and covers numerous topics critical for advancement in the communication industry, including crisis communication, social media engagement, focus group planning and implementation, survey design and survey analysis, public relations theory, professional writing, and communication ethics.