High-Lights: Our Tech PR POV

Cision vs Muck Rack – Which is the Better Media Database?

Highwire Labs Reviews Next-Generation Media Databases  

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Image Courtesy of Wikipedia

Every good PR person knows that the best path to good media relations is strong personal relationships, but the reality of life and the industry often means we need to look further afield. With this in mind, Highwire Labs began an investigation into the new generation of media databases.

We compared Cision’s new platform C3 against a relative newcomer to the space, Muck Rack. Both have evolved beyond static and faceless lists to include live updates to reporters’ coverage and social feeds, but only one can stand out as the clear choice for the tech-savvy PR pro. Here’s our take.


Cision C3

Highwire has been using Cision for years and they have a reputation as the de facto media database for PR professionals; however, it has not been without its frustrations including a poor user interface and slow load time. To be frank, our team did not go into this demo with high expectations. But, we were pleasantly surprised!

Turns out Cision has had quite a facelift. Not only do they offer an improved interface for looking up media contacts, but they have added features like live reporter Twitter feeds, editorial calendar database, automated briefing docs and metrics reporting all within its platform.


The updated platform has become a “one-stop shop” by allowing you to see recent coverage and Twitter feeds from the reporters within their media profile. Also the integration of the HARO and Editorial Calendars into Cision’s platform makes it easy to check a single location for potential opportunities.

The improved search function allows you to find reporters not just by their stated beat, but by the actual stories they write and conversations they have, making it easier to build a targeted list of the right reporters who will be interested in your topic at hand.


  • Improved user interface to make searching reporters easier and more specific
  • Editorial calendar feature to create edcals within the platform
  • Automated briefing documents for reporters
  • Live reporter twitter feed to see what reporters are covering at a moment’s notice
  • Metric reporting to track client’s share of voice against competitors
  • One platform to handle multiple steps to the PR process


However, Cision does still have a few drawbacks despite the new improvements. As a legacy platform it has a reputation to overcome amongst journalists. Since much of the contact information and biographical information on the platform is self selected by the journalist, sometimes information is missing or not very detailed. There is also something of a learning curve to figuring how to use all the tools available in this platform to their full potential.


  • Legacy platform with fixed reputation
  • Self-selected information by journalists
  • High learning curve to reach full potential


Muck Rack

Muck Rack is a newer tool to the PR database scene. Most PR professionals are familiar with the free version of the tool that provides snippets of a reporter’s coverage, biography and recent articles, but that is just the bare minimum of what the platform can actually do.

Muck Rack prides itself on being a tool for PR pros and journalists alike. PR teams can create media lists, find reporter contact information, build coverage reports and monitor the news, while journalists can build their own portfolio to better represent their coverage area and writing style to PR pros.


The key benefit of Muck Rack is that it a platform designed to change the way both reporters and PR people look at media databases. By integrating with Twitter and monitoring reporters’ coverage it presents a more complete view of a reporter’s area of interest than traditional databases. And by creating a service that is useful for journalist, it helps change the overall perception and creates an incentive for more maintaining complete and accurate information. It is an innovative approach that is brimming with potential and helped other databases to catch up.


  • Reporter contact information updated in real time
  • Novel approach to collecting reporter information
  • Extensive media list development


Unfortunately, Muck Rack is mostly potential. The concept of using Twitter and recent coverage to identify relevant reporters for a targeted pitch is enticing but not effective in Muck Rack’s implementation. Also the heavy reliance on Twitter results in inconsistent results for each reporter. Some reporters are more active and descriptive on their social profiles than others meaning that it is possible to miss many relevant reporters who don’t directly Tweet about the topics they cover.


  • Less professional user interface
  • Reality of search features does not live up to the full potential
  • Some features are still under development
  • Too heavily reliant on Twitter


Highwire Labs’ Take

Our team was impressed with the features and improved functionality with Cision C3—it’s a one stop shop for PR basics. Having a single platform to research reporter contact information in addition to editorial calendars, briefing docs and real time reporter updates streamlines multiple steps of the PR process.

Neither platform has a standardized price publically available, so you’ll have to work with their sales teams to decide what is the better option for your agency from a cost perspective. For, Highwire, Cision turned out to be the more cost effective platform.

WINNER: Cision C3



Next up, we’re comparing email extensions to better manage our email outreach. Let us know what tech you’d like us to explore next!


This post was co-authored by Kelly McDermott, SF-based account associate, and Andrew Erickson, SF-based account associate.