How to Choose the Best Media Database for PR [2021 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 PR relationships 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 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 media contacts 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.

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.

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 topic they’ve recently covered
  • suggestions for new contacts generated by the system based on similar criteria, which you have followed so far
Prowly PR Software - Media Contacts
Example of contact information in Prowly’s Media Database

How up-to-date and accurate the 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:

  • location
  • beat or topics of interest
  • media outlet
  • position/role
Prowly's Media Database
Examples of filters in Prowly’s Media Database

Media 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 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
ProwlyFrom $189/moMonthly or yearly>1,000,000
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

More affordable options include Prowly’s media database, which starts at $189 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.

Prowly media database pricing

ProviderPricingContract length# of contacts
ProwlyFrom $189/moMonthly or yearly>1,000,000

Prowly‘s media database costs $189/mo for the most basic plan, which includes being able to use or export 1000 media contacts. It’s possible to upgrade and get 3000 media contacts, which brings the price up to $219. More contacts are available upon request.

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 publically 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.

Media database sample or free trial

Absolutely make sure that the media database 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 people 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 information is hidden, but it allows you to see which contacts are available so you can be confident in your decision before you purchase.

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
  • 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 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 it in.

The downside, however, is that it can be outdated, inaccurate, or most commonly—poorly-tailored for your specific needs.

Using a media database allows you to find the most relevant people 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.


Choosing a media database can be a frustrating process, especially 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.

Cover photo by Christian Velitchkov