Agility is an integrated platform that allows clients to target and monitor traditional and social media, engage with influencers in real time, as well as distribute press releases and other content from a single dashboard.
Ranges from $5,000 to $20,000 per year based on subscription level and number of users.
Rebecca Laurie, PR director for History Colorado, has been using Agility almost a year.
How do you use it?
I log on to the Agility website. It takes me to my engagement dashboard, where I can choose to create a targeted list, distribute a press release, or check any monitoring in terms of clips, social media mentions, and any online conversations that have been taking place about History Colorado.
My first step is always determining what is the best way for me to tell the story using the tools and resources I have. I develop key points and pitches around the story and determine what audience I need to target. Then I go into the Agility database and click a button to create a target list. I'll know if I need to create a new list because I can click and see all the projects and lists I've previously created. If I'm working on a story that doesn't relate to a pre-established project, I create a new list.
I can create a project by clicking a new project button, and that sets up the process of creating a fully integrated project that allows me to create a new list, distribute a release, and monitor results. In my world, there are two kinds of stories – ones for which I create quick pitches and probably will not distribute a release and bigger stories that require broad outreach, measurement, and monitoring. The first type of story involves very targeted pitching, and I just need to get names so I create a targeted list. If I'm working on a bigger story, I'm going to create a project. It's nice that you don't have to create a project for everything thing if you don't want to.
I have about a dozen projects that were created in the past year that have needed broad-based, multi-level outreach. Each needed targeted lists for reaching more than one kind of audience, a related news release (either sent through the wire or through Agility's email release function), and long-term monitoring.
I access Agility's database on a daily basis – if not more – just to get a name, an email address, or some other information I might need quickly. When I have to work on a larger project, all the information is saved for me under that project.
Agility has a lot of built-in features to report any sort of problem. Because we're somewhat beta testing for Agility, we have a lot of contact with our customer service team. We usually email them and they do their best to get back to us quickly. There are internal tools we can use ourselves. For example, if we notice the media database is a little outdated, we can suggest updates right within the Agility platform.
How does it serve your business needs?
History Colorado is a state agency that serves many functions. It's under the state's Department of Higher Education so it's an educational institution that includes museums, educational programs, a research library, and historic collections related to Colorado history. History Colorado also houses the state's preservation programs, and as such, it's the home for the state archeologists, the historic preservation office, and the State Historical Fund, which is a major statewide historic preservations grants program. We seek to engage broad audiences – including the general public, students, tourists, researchers, and more.
We have a PR team of two. Sometimes we're lucky to get an intern, and we're also part of the communications office, which has a digital media manager and a managing editor for our publications.
Agility is essentially our research team. In the past we would have interns research media lists and monitor media placements – or do it ourselves. Agility helps cut, not all, but some of that footwork and time for a small PR office like ours.
Agility was tremendously helpful when we opened the History Colorado Center, which is the new state history museum, in April 2012. The opening required a major national push so we created a project in Agility. The scope of the story we needed to tell included many angles – architecture, green-building design, innovation in museum exhibits, technology, travel, and even food. We created targeted lists for all of these because with the building of a major new cultural center, the need for broad level audience reach was huge. We needed many lists to pitch different types of stories associated with this new $110 million museum. It was a great help for us to be able to keep those lists in a single area under the project heading.
In early February, we hosted an annual award ceremony to recognize communities and individuals throughout the state that are associated with major historic preservation projects. My colleague used Agility to set up a list and distribute a statewide news release. Using Agility, I could see that within about an hour, local and national news outlets had picked up the release.
How does it integrate with your existing infrastructure from an IT standpoint?
It's Web-based. I've not really needed to use it on my iPad, so I can't speak to the mobile experience with Agility.
What are the main benefits?
The main tools a PR professional uses – researching and creating lists, sending out news releases or announcements, and monitoring – are all in one place.
The customer service is great.
What are the main drawbacks?
There are still some key improvements that need to be made with the system in terms of having the most current media contacts. Also, in terms of monitoring, we find that other services that email you notification of news hits or social media chatter are more effective than this system, which require you to log on to see what you're monitoring.
There are a few other little enhancements that we've talked to the Agility team about, so we know they're aware of these things and are working on them.
What would you like to see improved / added?
It's really changed and improved in just a year. It wasn't as simple to use when we started to use it. They've done a lot of listening – not only to us but to all their clients. It's not 100% there, but it's a whole lot better and we can see they're working to make it a really well integrated and seamless tool for PR offices both large and small. I give them a lot of credit for working with their clients to ensure their needs are getting met.
Cision: provides a media database, press release distribution, media monitoring, and media analysis.
Vocus: provides PR Suite software that includes a media database, news, blog, and social media monitoring, analytics, and press release distribution.