Work Smarter, Not Harder – Tools to Help Get the Job Done

April 5,2016

We all have tools that help us do our jobs. And I’m not talking about how a nurse uses a stethoscope or a programmer uses a keyboard.

I mean tools that help us do our jobs better. Easier. With fewer speed bumps and roadblocks. It’s predictably difficult for me to conjure a good real-world example beyond the world of sports, where athletes use pine tar instead of spit, guzzle sports drinks instead of water, or—in throwback fashion—pump air into their sneakers instead of tying their laces tighter.

Marketing agencies are no different. We use USB drives instead of hard-copy media kits, and we use services to pull media clips when we earn placements for clients instead of blindly searching. We also Google things. I mean, because we’re human. And we’re curious. And, Google is, pretty much, all-knowing.

When it comes to public relations, I have a trio of tools taking up space in my figurative back pocket. One magically helps me look like a graphic designer (when, in fact, I am not). Another helps me promote client news in a polished, impressive way. And the last helps me with math.

Because math makes me sweat.

Since we Fingerpainters are collaborators, here are a few more details on each of the tools with which I’m currently obsessed.


Tool 1: Canva

Have you heard of Canva? It’s only the easiest, coolest and cheapest way for nonvisual folks to build basic graphics. But, and this is a big but, it doesn’t replace the wizardry of a strong creative department.

Canva design for FP blog[4]

For those who don’t have access to wicked-talented creative folks, Canva stocks literally hundreds (maybe even thousands) of templates, fonts, designs, icons and images for users to choose from. Need to build a social media image? Easy. Need to drop some knowledge by way of an infographic? Super simple.

A ton of the templates and design elements are free, and if they’re not, they’re only a dollar to download. Build it. Download it. Save it. Post it. Or, drop it into a presentation. I’m not even exaggerating, it’s the easiest thing ever.



Tool 2: A Plus

The media landscape is forever changing. Publications are downsizing, news outlets are consolidating and more people than ever are engaged on social media. Smaller media outlets mean fewer opportunities for coverage, yet social media users are still able to be reached directly if the news is packaged in a pretty way. Cue A Plus, an Ashton Kutcher­–founded website that encourages contributions. We use it quite a bit for specific pieces of client news that present well in a narrative format. It’s a community blog with built-in credibility and user-friendly mechanics. I mean that. My technology prowess is perfectly remedial.

Screen Shot 2016-04-01 at 1.14.01 PM[4]

We’ve used A Plus to tell the story behind a change of ownership at an apartment complex, the filming of a Super Bowl commercial and a celebrity guest for a local reading competition. Clients then used those links on social media channels.


Tool 3: Percentage change calculator

This may sound silly, but I almost break out in the hives at the thought of any calculation. That’s why I’m totally serious about my percentage change calculator. Upward or downward trends add a little extra muscle to pitches, and reporters appreciate when we “show our work” and offer statistical backup for our artfully crafted story ideas.

Bookmark that puppy. You’ll probably need it tomorrow.

math blog photo[3]



Lisa Nicita is a seasoned media professional who has been working in the Phoenix market since 1999. She joined Fingerpaint’s public relations team in 2014 and has since had a hand in managing real estate, finance, government and education accounts for the agency. As a former journalist, she’ll never lose her love for “the story.”

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