Back-to-School Curriculum for PR: Cool Stuff You Can Learn Now

It’s time to wake up and learn some new things!

Their backpacks stuffed and alarm clocks set,  the under-18 set are ready to strap in an begin another school year.  Hopefully this school year will leave them basking in new experiences, enjoying new friends and reveling in a trove of newly acquired skills.

Why should they have all the fun?

Anyone who’s done PR for more than a couple months by now appreciates the changes coming fast and furious in our business.  New technologies are constantly changing how audiences consume information, and how we communicate.  So as the kids go back to school, let’s do the same.  Here’s a list of apps and technologies every PR person should try and learn.

Staying organized & on top of things

Evernote (Android, iOS, Blackberry, Windows Mobile): Evernote’s incredibly robust and potent program takes note-taking (and later synthesis) and organizing the stuff you find interesting to a new level. In addition to scribbling a note to yourself, you can also take pictures, save web pages, record voice reminders and save tweets.  You can organize your notes into Notebooks, which are also searchable. You can email and share notes, too.  Basic version: Free

Business Calendar Free (for Android):  While I’ve not used this app myself, the reviews from Android users warrant inclusion.  The killer functionality here is the application’s ability to import all calendars tied to your accounts.  It also works seamlessly with Google Calendar.  If you live and die by your calendar, and use an Android device, this is worth checking out.  And it’s free.

Flipboard: At this point, it’s an “oldie” but Flipboard, in my book, is still a real goodie.  Flipboard renders the links shared by the people you follow on Twitter and your friends on Facebook.  The end result is an incredibly easy-to-read “glossy” digital magazine, enabling you to quickly flip through the content they’ve shared, and read what is of particular interest to you.  If you’ve taken the time to create and curate good Twitter lists, the results can be particularly valuable.   If you struggle to stay on top news and information, Flipboard can make you a faster and more efficient information consumer. Free

Any.Do (iOS and Android):  This little app was an editor’s pick on PC World’s “Best Apps of 2012: Shockingly Useful Apps for Android & iPhone” list, and it is a good one.  In a nutshell, Any.Do synchs and integrates your calendars and synchs them up with Google Tasks.  You can set reminders to return missed calls, and you can add tasks to your to-do list as they pop into your head.  Free

Documents, Content & Collaboration

Google Drive:  Known previously as Google Docs, Google Drive enables you to store all your docs in the cloud. You can access your content from everywhere, and you can easily share documents with other people – and you can collaborate real-time.  An available app enables you to upload and edit docs easily from mobile devices.  Free

Open Office:  This free office suite includes word processor, spreadsheet and presentation programs.  It’s intuitive and easy to use, and (importantly) is compatible with all major document formats. Free

GoodReader for iPhone: GoodReader lets you manage documents – in pretty much any format – from your iPhone.  Import files from Dropbox, Google Drive (and other servers), open .txt and word files, mark up PDFs – GoodReader handles them all.  $5

Photo apps:

Camera+  (iOS):  Camera+  puts functionality that was formerly the domain of professional photogs right at your fingertips – literally.  Using Camera+ on your iPhone, you can adjust exposure and focus with your fingers, which is pretty cool. You can also choose modes similar to those you find on today’s point & shoot digital cameras (night, portrait, etc.) as well as cool filters a la Instagram.  $.99

Flickr: Okay, I know Flickr isn’t an app.  But this grand-daddy of photo hosting and sharing is a major source of easy-to-use, Creative Commons content.  It has a huge base of users, and is extremely search engine friendly.  For these two reasons, if your brand publishes visuals that you’d like people to see, share and embed in their blogs, you’ll want to post in on Flickr (in addition to Pinterest.)  The Flickr app lets you upload right from your mobile.  Free, pro versions available for a nominal fee.

Social media for PR:

If you’ve not done so already, it’s time to start thinking about how you can use social media to expand the visibility of your messages and the engagement with your audiences.   If you’re a neophyte, the best way to get started is to simply start following people who are tweeting about subjects you care about – unrelated to your job – and using Flipboard to read the content they serve up.  Observe which individuals and brands consistently share the content you like.  Put on your communicator hat and noodle on how that content contributes to their strategies in terms of acquiring audience (hey, you’re paying attention to them now, right?) and furthering their objectives (have you read something then clicked on a link embedded within? Yes? Congratulations, you’re now a qualified lead.)    Once you’ve taken the time to listen and develop an understanding of the landscape, go ahead and start interacting. Share content  you find interesting and useful. Retweet things you like that others sent.  As you go along, you’ll start to build followers and become enmeshed in the community of your shared interest.   Take these lessons, and apply them for your brand.  (And if you need more ideas on adding social media tactics to your PR toolbox, read my free ebook, Unlocking Social Media for PR.)

Author Sarah Skerik is PR Newswire’s vice president of social media.

Photo by Jennifer Barr & courtesy of Creative Media Memories.

3 responses to “Back-to-School Curriculum for PR: Cool Stuff You Can Learn Now

  1. Pingback: Cool New Apps for PR Students and Pros | PR Blog News

  2. Pingback: Back to School for PR Pros: 9 Apps Every Professional Communicator Needs – Press Releases | Pan African American Chamber of Commerce

  3. Cool post, Sarah. I’m glad to see your mention of Flickr – I’ve come to love it as a source for licensable images, inspiration and storage,

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