By: Tawanda Carlton, Account Executive 

I recently came across a PR professional who possessed a wealth of knowledge, years of experience and was quite successful in her career. When I asked to connect with her on LinkedIn, she let me know she was barely active on the site. When I asked to exchange Twitter handles, she expressed the same sentiment. We eventually exchanged business cards and often keep in touch through email. The exchange between us, however, lingered in my mind. The following day, I did some digging and found her digital footprint was as extensive a President Lincoln’s. I wondered, how can a PR professional or brand not be “digital” in this current age and thrive?

Digital is a word many legacy brands and traditional professions tend to steer away from. However, no matter where we turn, we can’t escape what’s staring us right in the face.

This morning, for instance, I used my Outlook app to check emails and my work itinerary for the day. Next, I pulled up LinkedIn to scan my feed for industry news and trends to share with my team via Slack and with my Twitter followers. In the midst of this, my mom called me via Facebook chat, her new favorite thing to do. This happened all before I walked into work. However, it doesn’t stop there. My entire day is filled to the brim when it comes to utilizing digital tools that help me live, work, and play.

As PR professionals, we have to start embracing this new normal in our approach to our roles and careers as well. Our agency understands the importance of embracing a digital mindset in all aspects of our business – from internal communications to the tools we use with our clients.  Having a digital-first mindset in all that we do is at the top of everyone list.

“Going digital” happens in ways that are simple and complex. The action can be so simple that we often overlook how normalized digital practices have become in our everyday actions. To aid you in getting started with integrating helpful tools into your daily patterns, I’ve provided a few  I believe every PR professional should consider adding to their toolkit:

Slack – Slack has been a game changer for our agency as it allows us to provide instant continuous updates all in one place. The ability to be better connected with our internal team (and external partners) without sifting through countless email threads makes work seamless. Additionally, there are hundreds of Slack communities for PR professionals, marketers, and journalists that have proven helpful for our team. We’ve been able to secure media placements and story ideas with other like-minded individuals through one single platform.

LinkedIn – In PR, connections are everything, and unfortunately, you cannot be in all places at any given time to meet the people that matter most. LinkedIn has changed this. I use this platform on a daily basis for industry updates, trends and to connect with other industry professionals. Our team uses LinkedIn to source ‘off-the-radar’ journalists, contact speakers and sponsors for our agency events, and curate/publish owned content for our followers and targeted audience. This may not seem like “going digital”, but it truly is a place to expand your professional network and make connections that, in some cases, may have been harder to do otherwise.

Nuzzel – In public relations, content overload is a part of daily life because quite simply, we must keep up with trends as they relate to our industry and our clients. Nuzzel is a news aggregator that allows you to curate top news headlines on a daily basis. When I log on, I can read articles from the New York Times, AdWeek and The Washington Post – all in a few scrolls. Apps like Nuzzel  allows you to stay ahead of what everyone is reading so when the conversation on a breaking story or industry trend arises, you are prepared to join in.

Wunderlist – One of our account executives, and even our business development manager, has ditched pen and paper for Wunderlist to stay organized throughout the workday. A former ‘App of the Year’ winner by the Verge, I’ve known several professionals who live by the app’s functionality. It’s truly a great way to stay organized while on the go.

No matter what tools you decide to use, or how you decide to go “digital” (i.e. joining Linkedin of the “Twitterverse”),  the most important takeaway is for PR professionals to be open to change. Our industry is moving at lightning speed and currently, every industry’s focus is on the digital transformation. Staying open to new methods, technologies and adopting a  digital-first mindset will play a critical role in your professional success.