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Three Lessons For PR From The Launch of Google News Lab

Blog post   •   Jul 31, 2015 11:00 BST

Media giant Google recently launched News Lab, a global learning platform and a group of experts on hand to help train and educate journalists on Google tools and data.

Since the launch in June, the News Lab team has started working with media houses around the world to help catapult journalists into the digital world. This major media development means our journalist contacts will be forming stories with stronger insight by using tools such as ‘Public Data Explorer’ and tracking reach with ‘Alerts’.

So what does this mean for PR professionals?

With access to greater data, it’s likely that our journalist contacts may not be so reliant on PR to provide the information they need to build a story. They’ll also be able to tell very quickly whether an angle is being talked about and will, therefore, be newsworthy rather than having to rely on the opinion of their PR contact alone.

So where does this leave PR?

In a very good position.

Although Google News Lab is aimed at journalists, it is built up of Google’s best tools that are available to everyone. This means PR professionals have the opportunity to also gain real-time data for news stories, build interactive graphics through Maps and track campaigns through Alerts. Often, for free!

The partnership between Google and news publishers is a major step forward in media relations but what else can PR learn from this?

Here are my top three learnings and tips for PR:

1. Use Google's Tools Every Day

If we want our stories to be relevant then we have to adapt. Whether it’s updating our insight, strengthening our story structure or optimising our campaign based on the reach there is a Google tool (often for free) to help us.

Here’s one to get you started: Use Google Alerts to measure. As more of our coverage is online today Google Alerts becomes a serious contender to replace our clippings services. Simply add your client, campaign or news headline keywords to the alerts service and select to be notified as it happens.

2. Use your digital team in the same way as Google News Lab

Journalists are not only using the News Lab platform they are also firing questions over to the News Lab team on everything from ‘how to’on tools to helping with digital abbreviations.

Why don’t you do the same with your own digital team?

Feel confident in asking your digital department or partner agency for help. Whether it’s finding data, a tool or simply asking what PPC stands for. If you’re all aiming for the same goals I’m sure they’ll want to help.

Don’t have a digital team? Get involved in digital PR communities around you - they all want to help. @_futurePR, @wadds, @comms2point0 are all tweeting about digital development in PR. Follow and get involved.

I also host a video series called ‘There’s no stupid question’ through so feel free to ask me any question and I’ll aim to answer in 24 hours on film!

3. Automate process to free up time to learn

I’ve just highlighted how we need all learn more about Google. I’m well aware that I’m probably not the only person this week to recommend that you learn something new.

As PR practitioners, we’re often told that we should be learning more about paid media or social or SEO or PR measurement and the list goes on. There is so much to learn and very little time in PR. That’s why it is essential to first explore where we can automate the process to free up time for learning.

Look out for tools that will cut out the long-winded tasks to free up your time for the important stuff. Tasks like building coverage books can take hours in a PR working week, but a tool like can give those precious hours back.

There are many others out there that can save time in our PR work-flow. Check #PRStack for a list of other time-saving tools and how to use them.

The only certainty in our PR life is change so let’s take the lead from the journalists and Google News Lab partnership; let’s save time, use useful technology and develop our digital knowledge.

About Stella Bayles

Stella (@stellabayles) spent six years at London public relations agencies before moving to Google specialist Propellernet where she spent a further 6 years mixing their SEO technical know-how with Public Relations to create the first SEO-PR team. Her work led the agency to grow net revenue by more than 80 per cent.

Stella educates PR teams on digital PR insight, outreach and measurement through writing and training at