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4 Free Chrome Browser Extensions for a Digital PR Edge


Blog posts that recommend some absurd amount of tech tools that are labeled “must have” amaze me. Some of the titles list dozens, even hundreds of tools that are “essential.”

Nobody, except perhaps a carpenter, needs a hundred tools and the chances are the proponents of such posts hasn’t even tried them all.

To that end, I can promise readers three things:  This post recommends a manageable number of tools to try four tools, I use each one on a daily basis and these truly provide a digital PR edge.

1. Reduce typos with Grammarly

Ever draft a document, edit carefully using all the tricks – stepping away or reading it from the bottom up – and still having someone point out typos later?  It happens to me more often than I like to admit.

My proofreading skills can always improve — though I contend when you write a several thousand words a day — you’re bound to have a couple.  Besides, it keeps me humble and I’d like to believe I make up for that in many other valuable ways.  But that doesn’t solve the problem.

There are far too many people in the typo-mafia willing to discount a brilliant manifesto merely for a minor typo. These folks are willing to let you know too. If you dashed out an urgent message as a comet approached earth, “The world ending!” they’d be right there in the comments pointing out you forgot the word “is” and so the message isn’t believable.

Benefits. Enter Grammarly. It’s one of those plugins that will make you ask, “Where have you been all my life?!”  It’s awesome, it points out typos your standard word processor misses, it works across any online medium – tweets, status updates and message threads – and it’s free.

There is a paid version that promises additional benefits, including an integration with word processing. I haven’t tried that out yet, but the free version is near-magical.

Drawbacks. It’s a little buggy in WordPress.  For example, if you have text in quotes, in bold, or hyperlinked, and the plugin thinks there’s an error, it will un-bold and delink the text whether you accept the change or not.

The plugin is another web call and so it does slow down rendering a bit. It sometimes clogs up the view those little boxes social media sites provide to work with, but it’s a minor inconvenience for the broader benefit. Grammarly isn’t perfect. You (me) won’t be typo free…but you will see a dramatic improvement which will also help train us to be better editors.

2. Streamline Content Curation with Buffer

I’ve long been a big fan of Buffer for scheduling social media content across a range of sites.  In my mind, it helps me organize that schedule with an editorial focus.  I pay Buffer $10 a month out of my own pocket for some of the advanced features, like managing multiple social media accounts and integrating social media into my PR workflow, but this plugin is free.

Benefits. When you open up a new web page and decide you want to share the content on social media, the Buffer extension allows you to do so in one click. Even better, it will scrape an appropriate image and auto-complete Twitter handles when you want to credit the source on that medium.

Drawbacks. This is also another web call, so it can also slow down browser speed. Occasionally it won’t “buffer” a post and you have to refresh the page, but overall it works pretty well.  As an overall tool, Buffer is pretty clever about providing new and useful updates without wrecking the interface.

3. Count Twitter Shares and More with BuzzSumo

When Twitter empowered engineers to make customer experience decisions, it sent me scrambling to find a way to see share counts. I don’t care what the gurus say about share counts – these do matter. and in my experience, it brought a clear

In my experience, it brought a clear decline in social sharing. More importantly, one of the key aspects of sharing on Twitter was clicking the number counted would provide you with a list of who shared the content.  Twitter was the only social site that provided this – how many and who tweeted a link.

It was invaluable and now it’s gone…until I found BuzzSumo.

Benefits. BuzzSumo provides you one click access to the total number of social shares across most social media sites. If you want to see what this looks like – visit ShareTally, enter a URL and click enter.  BuzzSumo works just like that but the extension is faster, easier and displayed better.  The free plugin provides volume of shares, but not access to see

Drawbacks. BuzzSumo is missing data StumbleUpon. In addition, the plugin provides shares volume, but not access to see who shared.

The paid version promises to provide this data, but I haven’t tried it yet.  A BuzzSumo sales rep pitched me on a demonstration but went silent when I replied with my own pitch for an extended free trial in exchange for an impartial review.

4. Get a Grip on SEO with the MozBar

There are several references to Moz and PR on this blog. If you’re a PR pro struggling to figure out digital marketing or SEO, I highly recommend checking out this company’s blog, associated communities like Inbound.org and free tools like Open Site Explorer.

The MozBar provides similar data as its Open Site Explorer tool, but with one-click access. The free version provides “page authority,” a tally of backlinks, which are way more important than social share counts, and “domain authority.”

Page and domain authority are Moz’s “best guess” for how a page or domain will rank in Google.  “Best guess” in this case, means the savviest SEOs in the world – it’s about as close to predicting Google search results as anyone besides Google is going to get.

Benefits. As PR pro, it provides two valuable benefits.   First, it’s an at-a-glance snapshot of a media property – is that blogger worth pitching or is that negative post a brewing crisis?  You can get a sense in one click.

Second, this is a useful tool for measuring the value of your digital efforts over time. Backlinks are still the single most valuable factor of the rumored 200+ Google considers in ranking search results. Backlinks were the genesis for creating Google as an alternative to directories.

While there are other considerations, such as backlink quality, measuring backlink quantity over time, provides a sense of whether or not your content is moving the exposure needle for your organization. The MozBar is a great starting point.

* * *

What browser extensions do you find truly valuable?  Which ones would you recommend for PR pros?

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Photo credit:  Flickr, Tim Sackton, Knife’s Edge (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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