While marketing and advertising ecosystems have innovated rapidly in the past decade, the PR industry has notoriously adopted technology at a slower pace. Over the past few years, though, the media landscape has proliferated, causing a great surge in the volume of outlets, journalists, and influencers to target. At the same time, the PR industry is growing at a rapid clip of 10 percent per year and is expected to reach $93 billion annually by 2022. PR teams are needing to learn how to work remotely and optimize their efficiency and effectiveness because of the global pandemic we are facing. 

These trends collectively have caused a rising need in technology capabilities among PR and comms practitioners, beyond the traditional media database. As such, a number of companies are building innovative tools in the PR technology space.

Onclusive and TrendKite are doing interesting things, in the attribution and social analytics areas, respectively. On the reporting and monitoring sides, CoverageBook and Signal AI have created powerful tools. 

When it comes to all-in-one PR software, Cision and Meltwater, which are considered the PR legacy vendors, have ruled the roost. These two companies, which have been around for a combined 170 years, are now facing competition from two newer PR software platforms: Muck Rack and Propel. Each of these tools incorporates and builds upon a media database, with many other services, in their own ways. 

The startup innovators and the legacy vendors each have their advantages. For PR professionals looking to evaluate their tech stack, here's a breakdown of what you should know about each of the top tools:

Cision -- legacy vendor

Cision Communications Cloud (C3) offers an end-to-end PR platform that includes a media database, newswire distribution, monitoring, and attribution. With the recent acquisitions of Falcon.io and TrendKite, C3 also includes social media management and analytics, and media analytics. In fact, Cision has made 15 acquisitions, which has given the platform a wide array of capabilities. Regardless of whether its various solutions are as seamlessly integrated as possible, Cision has definitely built the industry's leading platform and company.

Key takeaway: Cision is a safe bet with a strong brand name and company history, for those looking for a one-stop shop PR software vendor.

Meltwater -- legacy vendor

Outside Insight by Meltwater is a media intelligence platform that offers a broad range of web and social monitoring and analysis. The platform includes social publishing and analytics, media monitoring (online, print, podcast, and broadcast), a media database, and A.I.-based insights. Meltwater has made a host of acquisitions, including several A.I. startups. The platform also has a search and analytics component that scans 1.3 trillion documents.

Key takeaway: Meltwater has rock-solid monitoring (which is where the company got its start), across the board. Those looking for A.I. insights around monitoring should look no further.

Muck Rack -- startup innovator

Muck Rack is possibly the fastest-growing PR software -- with a full suite of services that include a media database, monitoring, and distribution tools. Since launching a few years ago, the company has taken off and has differentiated itself with its portfolio service for journalists. The feature enables journalists to monitor coverage and mentions, as well as add pitching preferences, which PR users can see. Muck Rack continuously grows and updates its database, and even offers customers the ability to request specific outlets or journalists be added.

Key takeaway: Muck Rack is a modern, intuitive, and user-friendly web platform that ties the PR workflow together seamlessly. Overall, a smart and flexible choice for any PR team.

Propel -- startup innovator

Propel PRM and Media Database is an all-in-one PR software that includes a media database, pitching tools in Gmail and Outlook, monitoring, and business impact reports. Propel got its start as a CRM for PR that integrates with Gmail and Outlook -- which makes it a tool that enables remote working. By uniting the entire workflow in one PRM (public relations management) system, and bringing it into a native email, Propel offers a unique solution.

Key takeaway: The tool brings smart pitching suggestions and insights, as well as the ability to seamlessly work and collaborate remotely.