How to Choose the Best Media Database for PR [2023 Update]

A media database (or media contacts database) is one of the most important media relations tools available. Simply put, it’s a database of journalists, reporters, bloggers, influencers, and other media contacts, as well as media outlets.

Carefully used, you’ll be able to find relevant journalists, create targeted media lists and build meaningful public relations that will last for many years. It’s a much more effective alternative to buying media lists, as they will never be 100% tailored to your needs.

In this guide, you will read everything you need to know in order to choose the best media contact database for PR.

If you don’t feel like going through the long process of comparing journalist databases, Prowly’s media database software is completely free for 7 days with full search access so you can see if it’s a match for you.


What to consider when buying a journalist database for PR


Media contact database size

Whether you’re looking for a national or international media database, it’s worth noting how many media contacts are available. While more is not always better, it increases your chances of finding the right journalists that would be interested in your news story.

The largest media databases available will have at least 1 million media contacts available, although this number can be lower if the database covers only a certain region.

Prowly’s Media Database has more than 1.1 million contacts in the database — it’s considered one of the biggest media contact databases on the market.

Prowly’s Media Database search by country

International media database size

If you’re looking for international media contacts, don’t just look at the total number of media contacts available—find out how many are in the regions, countries or even cities that you’re interested in.

Some databases may have a large international media contact list, but the quality and quantity of the contacts can vary from region to region. If possible, ask about the number of contacts in the location you’re interested in or find out if there’s a free trial to have a look by yourself.

Prowly’s Media Database search by state


Available contact information

At the very least, a media contacts database should contain basic information about the media contact that lets you identify if they would be interested in your story and how you can contact them. These include:

  • name and surname
  • position
  • email address
  • phone number
  • beat/topics covered
  • media outlet
  • social media accounts

More advanced databases will contain additional information such as:

  • languages used in the case of multi-lingual journalists
  • influence score or similar metric
  • what articles they’ve recently written
  • suggestions for new contacts generated by the system based on similar criteria, which you have followed so far
Example of contact information in Prowly’s Media Database


How up-to-date and accurate the media database is

Even if a media database checks all the boxes above, it can leave you frustrated if the media contact information is outdated or inaccurate.

In order to figure this out, it’s worth asking these two crucial questions:

  • How frequently the database is updated?
  • What is/are the sources of the available media contacts?

Media contact information can be sourced from one channel or from various locations on the web. If possible, look for a database that gathers data from multiple sources.

For example, Muck Rack uses only Twitter to generate its media contacts. The downside – if the journalist is not on Twitter or doesn’t update their profile, they may not be in the database or their information may be incorrect.


Available search filters

As a journalist database can contain a lot of contacts, check what are the options for narrowing down your search in order to find the most relevant journalists.

The most common filters are:

  • journalist’s name
  • location
  • beat or topics of interest
  • media outlet
  • position/role
  • keywords based on written articles
  • keywords based on Tweets
Examples of filters in Prowly’s Media Database


Media contacts database pricing & contract length

Media databases usually don’t come cheap and some of them are only available with annual subscriptions. Unless your PR budget is unlimited take into account the following factors when doing your research:

  • Compare media database pricing for different providers, keeping in mind that more $$$ does not necessarily mean a better database
  • Flexibility—does the vendor offer various plans depending on your needs and the size of your team (especially if you’re a freelancer or small business)
  • Check what the minimum length is for a contract; some companies require you to pay upfront for a whole year

Most of the pricing plans for the top media databases are not publically available on their websites, but their subscription costs are estimated to start at around $400 per month or $5000 per year.

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
CisionFrom $5000/yr (est.)Yearly only>1,400,000
MeltwaterFrom $6000/yr (est.)Yearly only>380,000
Muck RackFrom $5000/yr (est.)Yearly only>300,000
ProwlyFrom $293/moMonthly or yearly>1,000,000


More affordable options include Prowly’s media database, which starts at $293 per month and offers 2 different plans based on how many media contacts you need. Contracts are either monthly or yearly, with the latter having a discounted price.

Cision media database pricing

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
CisionFrom $5000/yr (est.)Yearly only>1,400,000

Based on our insights, Cision’s media database pricing starts at around $600 per month. Because Cision only offers annual plans, the database will end up costing a hefty $7200 per year, or more.

Cision’s PR database is one of the most expensive available on the market—partly because it requires buying the other tools that Cision offers. Pricing is not available publicly on their website and requires getting in touch with sales.

Meltwater media database pricing

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
MeltwaterFrom $6000/yr (est.)Yearly only>380,000

Meltwater’s media database pricing is also not available on their website. From our data, we estimate it to cost $6000 per year if purchased for a single country. With more countries, the price can go up to $8000 annually.

Muck Rack media database pricing

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
Muck RackFrom $5000/yr (est.)Yearly only>300,000

Muck Rack’s pricing is also hidden, but we estimate their database to cost around $5000 per year or more, with no available monthly option.

Prowly media database pricing

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
ProwlyFrom $293/moMonthly or yearly>1,000,000

Prowly‘s media database costs $293/mo for the most basic plan, which includes the ability to use or export 1000 media contacts. It’s also possible to upgrade and raise that to 3000 media contacts, which brings the price up to $393. More contacts are additionally available upon request.


Media database sample or free trial

Absolutely make sure that the media database tool you’re interested in offers a sample of the available contacts—or better yet—a free trial. Blind buying media lists or media contacts can lead to wasted time and money.

Most providers will provide a sample on request or display available contacts during a product demo. This is better than nothing, but it doesn’t always give you the full picture and can leave you wondering if you’ll find the right contacts that you’re looking for.

If possible, find out if the media database provider offers a free trial, allowing you to look around the application and see if it’s a match for your needs.

Prowly offers a free 7-day trial with full search access. Contact details are hidden, but it allows you to see which contacts are available so you can be confident in your decision before you purchase.


Questions to ask the media database provider

Even if you think that a chosen media database matches all your expectations, it’s better to ask the following questions before investing your time and money in it:

1️⃣ How is the media contact base relevant to the industry the customer works in?

When reviewing the size of a database, it’s important to determine the number of contacts that are relevant to your industry, for example the quantity of contacts that specialize in automotive topics. The sales team should provide you with custom research and showcase a possible media list based on your specific query. 

2️⃣ What’s the number of unique contacts in the media database? 

The provider should be able to showcase the diversity of media types, such as journalists, bloggers as well as their location and other filters that you can use on the platform.

3️⃣ Is it possible for customers to add  necessary media contacts to the media database , such as specific journalists, influencers or outlets? 

It should be possible through a request to the customer support team. 

4️⃣ What type of customer support is provided? 

Ask what the customer support process looks like – will the customer support team help you with ongoing questions on the platform or is there any training program offered? Ensure that the company is willing to guide you through the setup and provide prompt solutions to any questions that may arise.

5️⃣ Is it possible to export your contact lists?

It should be possible to download your list in CSV, XLS or XLSX formats. 

6️⃣ Is it possible to create a personalized pitch right on the platform?

You should be able to tailor your email pitches to different recipients based on factors such as your relationship with them, their location, or their area of expertise simply by incorporating these details into your messages.

7️⃣ Does the platform have enough functionality to manage media contact lists?

You should be able to have different access levels for your team to work with, to add your own notes and tag contacts, to follow chosen journalists and receive notifications when they publish new articles.


List of media databases for PR

Below you can find a list of the major media databases with US & global media contacts:

  • Prowly
  • Cision
  • Muck Rack
  • Agility PR
  • Meltwater
  • Pressrush
  • Anewstip
  • Easymedialist.com
  • Presswire
  • Burrelles
  • Trendkite
  • Notified

Looking for UK or Australian media contacts? Check out the comparison of UK media databases and Australian media databases respectively.


Buying a media list or a media database – what’s the difference?

You might be wondering whether it’s better to buy a media list or a media database, or even what the difference is between the two.

A media list is what it sounds like—a concrete list with media contacts, often narrowed down to a specific industry and/or location.

On the other hand, a media database gives you access to every single media contact and media outlet available (as long as they’re in the database).

The upside to buying a media list, is that it’s already made and waiting to be used. There’s not a lot of effort you have to put in.

The downside, however, is that it can be outdated, inaccurate, or most commonly—poorly tailored for your specific needs.

A media database helps you to find the most relevant contacts for your story and make your own targeted media list. This greatly increases your chances of getting your story noticed and picked up by the media because you’re reaching out to people that are waiting for a story like yours.


Conclusion

Choosing a media database can be a frustrating process, mainly because there are so many and the majority require you to talk with sales to get a sample of the available contacts.

Start by figuring out what exactly you’re trying to achieve with a media database and what kind of contacts you’re trying to find. Once you have that written down, look for providers that offer a free sample or trial to get an idea of the quality and accuracy of the database.