When you need to get your company or your client’s story in front of as many eyeballs as possible, across vast swaths of the national or global media landscape, you simply can’t do it alone. You have a great product, a great story, a snappy press release — and now, to get it in front of thousands of reporters and influencers, you’re almost certainly going to need to do more than post it on the company blog or Facebook page. You need to chose one of the public relations online tools.

Online public relations tools are designed to take it from there, helping to put you and your story in front of a enormous pool of influencers with an even more gigantic combined audience. The best tools also let you ease the headache of monitoring all the stories that are bubbling up about your client or company, of tracking your communications with journalists, and helping you figure out how successful your efforts are.

Wading through the competing services is a challenge of its own, though: Each company actually offers a web of interrelated services, all of the choices are shrouded in proprietary information, and the big players in this field shift around constantly. So, based on our own experiences here at SahlComm, here are our takes on three of the most important services available right now:


Cision [http://www.cision.com/us/] is the giant in this field. Founded as “Bacon’s Information” more than three quarters of a century ago, it’s been putting companies in touch with reporters since long before the existence of functional computers, let alone the Internet. Since its 2014 merger with Vocus, one of the other biggies in PR, it’s become even more dominant.

Arguably Cision’s biggest strength is its massive network of journalists: It claims 1.6 million records in its media database [source: http://www.cision.com/us/pr-software/media-database/], more than any other competing service. In addition to giving you their contact information, it provides tools to manage the lists of journalists you contact, and to track your emails and interactions with them.

Cision also controls PRWeb [http://www.prweb.com/] and PR Newswire [http://www.prnewswire.com/], two of the biggest wire distribution services for press releases in the world. It includes digital tools that track the mentions of your company, so you can see what gets published and what people say about your company in print, online, and on social media. Critically, it also lets you generate reports to figure out the return on your PR investment of time and money.

The company doesn’t publish its rates; you’ll need to request a quote through the Cision website [http://www.cision.com/us/pricing/]. But know up front that it’s not cheap: Expect to pay about $5,700 for a single license [source: http://www.gaebler.com/How-Much-Does-a-Media-Database-Cost.htm]

At SahlComm, we’ve found that to be a very worthwhile investment. It’s been the best solution for us in getting out our clients’ stories — but depending on your needs, you may find another service would be an even better fit.


Meltwater [https://www.meltwater.com/ap/] started out in 2001 in Norway as a “media intelligence” platform — that is, it offers top-of-class tools to let you watch what’s being said and published about your company or clients (and their competitors).

In its 15 years, Meltwater has worked to grow into a full-featured competitor to Cision: Like the older company, Meltwater has snapped up other, related companies and continued to add services. It now includes its own media contact database — smaller than Cision’s, though it touts its ability to find journalists through smarter searches. For example, Meltwater lets you find influencers through searches that indicate what they’re actually writing about, not just their assigned beats.

Early in 2016, Meltwater partnered with Marketwired [https://www.meltwater.com/press/meltwater-partners-with-marketwired-to-deliver-enhanced-news-distribution-solutions/], a press release wire distribution service that’s now owned by Nasdaq, Inc. [http://business.nasdaq.com/marketwired], as a means of getting your releases in front of more reporters. Also like Cision, it’s built its own tools for managing the lists of journalists you contact and for tracking your communications with them.

Meltwater also requires you to request a quote through its website [https://www.meltwater.com/ap/request-pricing/], but other sources indicate its rates start at $6,000 annually. [source: https://muckrack.com/daily/2014/07/09/what-does-pr-software-cost-prices-of-media-databases-monitoring-tools-and-press-release-services/]


While Cision started out as a list of journalist contact information, and Meltwater began as a media monitoring tool, BuzzStream [http://www.buzzstream.com/] started out in the world of search engine optimization and has grown into a more full-featured service.

From the earliest days of the World Wide Web, the oldest way to get people to read the content on your website was to encourage other people with websites to post hyperlinks to yours. Google and other search engines now use that same principle — looking at who’s linking to which websites — to determine which sites are most talked about and, therefore, most deserving of a high spot in their results. At its core, BuzzStream is designed to help you use that to your advantage by finding bloggers and other people with websites to talk about your company and link to its site.

BuzzStream’s main strength has long been tracking and reporting on links, but it has continued to increase its focus on building relationships with the people behind those links. As a result, it’s built its own database of online influencers to search, and its own tools for managing and tracking your contacts with them. It also makes it easy to find and flag websites that may be helpful in getting your story out — or that might lead you to find other sites that can help, too.

The network of contacts isn’t as large as Cision’s, but for companies in certain tech-related industries, BuzzStream may offer a valuable entry point into the constantly-changing world of blogs, social media, and discussion websites like Reddit.

Helpfully, BuzzStream publishes its rates right on its website. [http://www.buzzstream.com/plans-pricing] Plans start at $288 annually for the simplest package, but the “Professional” plan — BuzzStream says this option is the most popular — is $3,488 annually.

New media, old media, connecting with journalists, tracking a company’s reputation: Depending on your needs and priorities, choose the service that’s the best fit for your company. For more information contact us and we can help you find powerful new ways of connecting with journalists and influencers who will tell your story. Call SahlComm.