Despite the idea that Public Relations is all about getting your client free press, it's actually a pretty expensive field. When you think about the many programs and subscriptions you have to apply for you realize that companies are paying thousands of dollars per month for these products. After quitting my job in public relations, I began freelancing and became aware of how hard it was to find necessary information when you didn't have those thousand dollar tools. I was "PR raised" on programs like Cisionpoint and Muckracker. I had other programs that could pull information for me in under 5 seconds at my fingertips. Clearly spoiled by the ease of access to anything I needed, I quickly understood that in order to be as successful as I once was, I needed to find programs similar to what I once used. I began looking into low-priced and free options. The three below have become my all time favorite and have yet to disappoint me. 

Help A Reporter Out

Help A Reporter Out (HARO) is a sourcing service connecting journalists with experts. HARO sends three emails daily with journalists requests for sources and input for stories they're writing. Sending over 50,000 inquiries from highly respected and national media outlets each year, HARO should be a mandatory tool for all PR freelancers.

Don't rely too heavily on HARO though. To truly be successful, you should still research outlets and pitch new story ideas. HARO can only do so much. 

Compete

When landing online media hits for your client, it's important to know how much traffic the site receives. Compete allows you to track impressions, or viewership, of the site. Stats are updated each month, so numbers are consistently accurate.

Flipboard

Another required, yet sometimes daunting task for a publicist is that you have to be aware of all news — sometimes even before it is news. Flipboard allows you to pick the industries you're most interested in and organizes all your news in one place. 

Got a free tool that's worked wonders for you? Let us know in the comments below.