PR Basics: What Are the Tools of Public Relations?

By Tiara Ogabang

Adaptability is the foundation 

What are the tools of public relations? If you look to a PR textbook or an online resource that discussions the foundations of PR, you will find many of the tried and true PR techniques. 

These are things like video ads, press placements, and public opinion polls. 

These are valuable tools to be sure, and we will be discussing some of these later in the article, but here at the beginning, we would also like to highlight the extent to which public relations professionals can make use of just about anything. 

Talented PR reps know exactly how to adapt to changing situations and how to use different elements of contemporary culture to their advantage, ultimately to keep the client happy. 

PR offers so much room for creativity, and this is precisely why the answer to the question of ‘what are the primary tools of public relations’ is, essentially, ‘everything.’ 

There are so many different ways to promote a client, especially now that the internet has become a part of everyday life. 

For the rest of this article, we will talk about different tools that can be very useful in promoting a client and altering their public image in some way. 

Some of these tools are quite old, and some of them have only become available over the last fifteen years or so. But all of them are powerful, and none should be discounted during the course of a public relations campaign. 

A selection of tools 

Below you’ll find short descriptions of common public relations tools that can be used in almost all scenarios. 

Again, there are so many other tools we can’t list here simply because the options are nearly limitless. 

Take some time today to think a bit about what unique approaches you would use if you were put in charge of a public relations campaign

Social media 

Social media is definitely one of the most recent additions to the PR toolset. Think of it as a shiny new power tool with all the features you could ever want. 

Not only do social media platforms represent some of the most wide-reaching virtual spaces in existence, they’re also very low-cost to maintain.

Social media

If you wanted to, you could create multiple social media profiles for a small business right now, completely free of charge. 

From there, you could increase the following through content native to each platform. 

No matter the size and popularity of the client, social media is so powerful that it just can’t be ignored. 

Try to think of a company or a public figure that doesn’t have some kind of social media presence. 

Any PR client who has a vested interest in engaging with their audience in a more direct manner is missing out if they’re not making use of social media marketing. 

Now, social media marketing is still somewhat new, so there’s plenty of room for improvement in this area, but if you’re a digital native (meaning you grew up with technology, the internet, and social media) then you can be a significant asset to any PR team. 


Television, of course, is one of the older PR tools, but it’s still incredibly important, and it’s not limited to TV commercials, either. 

Commercials can do a lot to introduce new customers to your products and even maintain existing customers, but for certain clients seeking PR services, there’s also the possibility of creating bespoke content in the form of a show all their own. 

Another PR method that has become increasingly popular over the last few years is branded content within existing TV shows. 

A notable example of this technique is the Vice show Most Expensivest, where host 2 Chainz simple talks to representatives of high-end companies who then get to hock their wares to a significant audience.


These companies are mostly paying for the privilege of being featured on the show, making the show a win-win for the production company, Vice, and the businesses themselves. 

Of course, there’s quite a lot of room for branded content online as well, but television tends to offer a much wider reach in terms of audience. 

PR teams can also coordinate guest appearances for their clients on news shows and many other types of programs where the client isn’t the focus, but simply a commentator who can share their professional insights into a particular situation.  

Online news and culture outlets 

For many contemporary PR agencies, online press is one of the best bets for their clients. For one, it tends to be much easier to get in contact with the editors or publishers of online content than it is to get a meeting with television executives. 

Depending on the specific publication/outlet, an online press placement could actually do a lot more good for the client, in terms of reaching their target audience. 

Certain publications may even provide analytics that show who tends to visit their site and how many people visit their site in any given week or month. 

Based on this information, you can narrow down a list of publications that would be especially useful to your client. 

If a publication is receptive to the idea of writing about the client, you should also coordinate specific details, especially when it comes to specific subject matter that you would like to be covered in that piece. 

Past customers

Past customers

Testimonials are nothing new, and in fact, they remain so popular that there are many commercials that try to achieve the feel of customer testimonials without even including real customers. 

Whether in the form of a commercial, an article, or a social media post, having satisfied customers of your client talk about their experiences and why they love the brand can attract new customers very effectively. 

Hearing real people talk about why they recommend something is just immediately more relatable than ad copy being ready by a professional actor. 

All you need to do is find customers who would be willing to share their stories with others. They’ll do the rest.