Why Google Alerts are a PR Pro’s Secret Weapon

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If you’re like me, your days are a whirlwind of activity, from managing staff and event logistics to writing (everything!) and keeping an eye on myriad communications. Google Alerts has proven to be a lifesaver for staying on top of both the online conversations I’m aware of and the ones I’m not.

How does it work?
It’s wonderfully simple. A Google Alert is an ongoing customized Google Search that delivers the results to you automatically via email. Choose any search term you want (Google lets you set up to 1,000 alerts per email address), choose how often to receive the alerts (as it happens, once a day, once a week), choose your language, enter your email address, and you’re good to go.

Why it’s my secret weapon
Not only does the Alert let me know when my organization has been mentioned in news media, it also monitors blogs, videos, online discussions and web pages. As a non-profit, my organization is hyper-aware of brand reputation and management. Google Alerts allows me to listen in so I can get in front of a potential issue or better understand the concerns of our donors and stakeholders.

Ever wonder what the competition is doing? Set up a Google Alert with their name and monitor their activity. This may help with strategic planning or offer up some good ideas to build on. Part of my role at Peace Arch Hospital Foundation is to oversee our black-tie fundraising gala. We choose an exciting and creative theme each year and our goal is to stand out among the many galas in the Lower Mainland. I use Google Alerts to keep tabs on other non-profit events to ensure we offer something different and unique every single time.

It’s not perfect but it is free!
While Google Alerts do not monitor social media activity or provide analytics or reports, it is a free service that I believe to be an invaluable resource. It’s easy, reliable and robust. One last fun tip: create a Google Alert for your name and see what comes up. You never know what interesting things are floating around the World Wide Web about you.

About the Author

Vicki Brydon is the Director of Public Relations for Peace Arch Hospital Foundation in White Rock. She is a graduate of the Journalism program at Langara College and has spent nearly 20 years in PR, marketing and communications. When she’s not writing or planning elaborate fundraising galas, she’s criss-crossing the globe in search of adventure and the perfect croissant.