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PR Database Review: Search for the Best PR Platform

By November 24, 2013August 13th, 2017Strategy

PR Database Review:

Meltwater vs Vocus vs Cision vs MyMedia Info

UPDATE: Upon further review of the Vocus platform, we have made the decision to return to Meltwater.  Please read the update on the features that our agency couldn’t go without.  Please see link at the bottom of the page. 

Here we go again – renewal time for our PR database and media-monitoring suite.  It’s a big investment for our agency and every year I take the time to see what the top providers have to offer.

I like to think of it like buying a car, both in terms of cost and the sales experience. My recent experience with Vocus was just plain embarrassing.  The whole industry needs to update their sales culture. Customers should feel like partners through the sales process, not marks. In fairness, once you get through the sales process with any of the Big 4, it’s over, and the account team will probably be great.

In general, all of the Big 4, Vocus, Cision, Meltwater, and MyMedia Info, will tell you that they have the most accurate and extensive database and that their media monitoring covers the most outlets.  Unfortunately, that’s not very helpful.  The other challenge is making sure that you’re comparing similar packages.  Each service provider has different plans, add-ons, fees, features, limitations, and so on that make it really tough to know if you’re comparing apples to apples.
In terms of pricing, Meltwater and MMI offered the most price competitive packages, while Vocus and Cision were more costly. Whether it’s true or not, Vocus and Cision seem to be fairly confident that they offer a superior product to justify the cost.

By the way, there is definitely a negotiation process and some room in the pricing. Feel free to look me up if you have questions about cost or pricing.

We have just passed the two-year mark with Meltwater, and generally like the News and Press service and their account team is really friendly and helpful.  The platform is full-featured and it definitely delivers good value for the dollar.  Meltwater’s Google-like NLP Search and research tools are our favorite features.  It’s a fantastic way to identify and power-rank influential journalists who write about particular key words.  Last I checked, Cision lacks this search feature, which automatically put them out of the running for us. Meltwater also has a very robust online-only media monitoring and analytics suite with Meltwater News.

We did struggle somewhat with email deliverability and bounce rate from their email system.  Meltwater has made email masking available to fix this, but I don’t have experience to know if/how much it helps.  (If you do, please comment and let us know.)

This year we decided to make the switch to Vocus, partially to test them out, but also to get a few features that we were missing.  It was particularly painful to sign the contract after the sales experience, but the platform seemed to be a fit.

At the end of the day, here are the benefits that led us to go with Vocus:

Reply-To Email Address – With Vocus, we are able to set the name and reply-to email address for each email distribution.  This gives us more flexibility to funnel replies to different account managers at our agency, or even directly to the client if appropriate.

2.    Offline Media Monitoring – Vocus’ media monitoring suite offers both online and offline media monitoring, which includes television, radio, and print.

3.    Automated Clip Reporting – Vocus allows us to set up unlimited automated and customized clip reports to go out to our team and clients either daily, weekly, or monthly. 

4.    PR Web Integration – PR Web is owned by Vocus and they offer some pretty aggressive volume pricing and additional features for companies and agencies that send a lot of press release wires.  These packages are available a-la-carte as well, but it also integrates with the Vocus suite, which is nice.

5.    Platform Look and Feel – Maybe it’s just me, but when you spend a lot of time on a web platform researching, building lists, sending emails, and looking at reports, the look and feel is really important.  Vocus seems to have a really clean user interface, and a single login for everything, which we love.

I will definitely revisit down the road to report back on our experience when we get a little more platform time under our belt.  But so far so good.  Please ask questions or leave comments on your experience.

Depending on your situation you may also want to consider working with a public relations agency like ours, in which case you don’t need to have your own $10 or $20K database subscription.  If you have questions about price negotiation, any of the platforms, or our services, click here to email me.  


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