Iris helps PR pros measure and manage campaign performance

What It Is:

Iris is a cloud-based software designed to help PR pros evaluate campaigns, centralize contact data and keep track of team workflows. As is usually the case with PR software, the platform was created by a former pro. Iris is the brainchild of Aly Saxe, the founder of the boutique agency Ubiquity PR who says the platform was created to solve the often inefficient workflows she experienced while working in a PR team. In addition, her clients were high-tech B2B focused companies, who were used to dealing with automatically generated performance metrics and reports, which her small agency couldn’t provide.

“We were still using excel sheets, Google docs and media lists to gather and track all our data, while working for companies who were way more sophisticated when it came to tech,” says Saxe.

Saxe started developing the Iris software while she was still at Ubiquity, as an internal tool for the company. She now focuses on the platform full-time, while still maintaining Ubiquity as a top client.

These days most PR solutions focus on external messaging and digital outreach, but Iris is purely for internal management purposes. Its strength lies in centralizing workflows and creating a single workspace for small PR teams to coordinate and measure their efforts.   

Features:

Pitch tracking: Media relations is the core PR function that Iris manages and measures. The software allows a user to create pitches or entire campaigns in the system and then track the performance of each task. It displays charts and stats to show the total number of pitches sent, the different type of pitches (phone, email, in-person etc.) and the person/media outlet the pitches were sent to.  The software has the ability to automatically track pitches sent through email, reducing the need for manual entry of details.

Performance metrics :The software returns a performance metric for each pitch, which is called “ROI” but is really just the success rate of a pitch, not necessarily a dollar value. That means if 100 pitches were sent out and 15 publications wrote a story, the “ROI” would be 15%. In addition to story pitches, Iris also tracks the success of other PR efforts such as awards entries and speaking engagements.

Report generation: Metric goals and performance can be measured separately for each client, campaign or employee, with the option of exporting and sharing the reports with clients or management.

Centralized contact data: Iris organizes media contact and influencer information CRM-style into one centralized database accessible to all the members of the team. In addition to contact information, each entry contains contact history so that pitches aren’t repeatedly sent to the same person. By using tagging features, the contact list can be searched and specific contacts can be identified for relevant stories.

Deadline notifications: PR managers can create important deadlines for things such as awards entries within the software’s in-built task calendar. Members receive notifications as the deadlines approach.

Campaign Management: In addition to creating and tracking the progress of new PR campaigns, users can access old campaigns and use them as playbooks for current efforts. Campaign performance can be analyzed in real-time to optimize different elements and eliminate the ones that aren’t working. Much like individual pitches, campaigns come with their own metrics and exportable reports for clients.

Who is using it:

Iris works best for small agency or in-house PR teams, typically operating between three and 15 people. Current clients include Olson Communications, Ubiquity PR and marketing automation platform Infusionsoft, who have actually used it to track revenue earned through demand generation.

Competitors:

Prezly, AirPR, Vocus, Cision, PRWeb, PressFriendly

Pricing:

Iris is priced on a monthly subscription model, with tiers depending on the number of users:

Three users: $199/month

8 users: $399/month

15 users: $599/month

Evaluation:

At its heart, Iris is a management tool and it does the simple, but crucial things well. Its interface is extremely clean, simple and intuitive, with a distinct lack of too many options and clutter. It doesn’t have the bells and whistles associated with big, enterprise focused PR/marketing suites such as Cision and Vocus, but then again it isn’t targeting the same user base. And while AirPR also tracks the results  of media outreach, it assigns a dollar value to them, making it more of a evaluation tool for the CMO. Iris is primarily for self evaluation and workflow management, with the added feature of reporting to the client.

At a starting price of $199 a month, Iris is very cost effective for small teams who just need a platform to coordinate and track all their efforts. It eliminates the need for multiple Excel sheets, Word docs and templates, keeping the shared company knowledge in one accessible place.

However, its simplicity, and focus on media relations might seem too basic for a lot of today’s PR pros who are being tasked with content marketing, influencer marketing, social media outreach, event marketing and even some paid media efforts. As the scope of PR responsibilities grows, it becomes more complex to track, and in that sense Iris is currently limited.

Despite the effective display of performance metrics, it still requires a lot of manual input from all members of the team, which is simple enough, but becoming less desirable in a world of increasingly automated analytics. However, those features don’t come cheap, and with Iris, you get the scope you pay for.

As far as simple tracking, data management and facilitating workflow go, this is a first rate platform for small PR teams.

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