One of the key aspects – and, in many ways, the bread and butter – of PR is building highly targeted, highly effective media lists to reach out to journalists for coverage of your content. Whether it’s large lists of many local stations and reporters to targeted features reporters at top-tier publications, building media lists can be time consuming but the right list will always be worth your time.
What if you had an AI research assistant to help you in your list building practice? If it could read a press release or a pitch and understand the ideal journalists for the job? If it does a good job, this could save you hours of time and effort allowing you to devise ever more ambitious outreach plans to make sure your content gets in front of all the right eyes.
In this post-ChatGPT world, there are many AI tools and platforms that claim to do exactly that: help you generate a pitch or press release from a few keywords and then scan said release or pitch and cultivate an instant, customized press list full of journalists covering content relevant to yours. In this piece, we’ll go over some of the best AI for building media lists: and some that fall short.
Muckrack hit the ground running in the AI arms race with its April 2023 announcement of integration with PressPal.ai, a platform that both will generate a pitch or press release based on a few keywords or data points and then immediately cultivate a press list from its formidable database of press contacts. Using keywords it derives from scanning the pitch or release, its list can include hundreds of contacts that you then can select to pitch.
At first glance, Presspal AI is a powerful tool in any PR pro’s toolkit: while a bit limited in the style of text it generates (it only really creates a press release, which won’t work for everyone), the list building capability will surely save time and help you focus on honing your pitches to outreach perfection.
When entering a few data points from our recent study on the top existential questions people ask Google, the press release generated was….fine. Probably not serviceable for a short, to-the-point, email-able media pitch, but it used the data points to generate a list, which is what we’re most interested in getting for this research.
Using keywords it determined from ‘scanning’ the data we put in, PressPal then did a keyword search within Muckrack’s ample press database:
From here, it generated 297 contacts relevant to the keywords:
The beauty of this particular AI assistant is that it’s integrated seamlessly into an already-powerful press database, so it really will save you a ton of time. While I can’t necessarily recommend the text-generative aspect for the intents and purposes of digital PR outreach (our currency is pitches, not press releases), the list cultivation is powerful and highly relevant.
Pricing: PressPal is available to anyone with an extant Muckrack subscription at no additional fee; it is still in beta. A Muckrack subscription is roughly $5,000/month per seat.
Sometimes you need a friend – but have you met Amiga? Propel PR’s new AMIGA, short for “Artificial Media Intelligence Generator and Assistant,” is billed as an “end to end AI PR assistant.” It can generate a press release or pitch as well as a media list to go with it.
By following a step by step pitch creation and list cultivation process, you can start with a few keywords and end with a perfectly serviceable pitch and list to send it to. While not much can be seen in the free trial, it looks as if the press list Propel cultivates is on the smaller side, but full of high-DA journalists and publications.
The pitch itself was too wordy to be serviceable for most journalists (study after study showcases brevity is the soul of earning links) but could be edited into a passable pitch with a strong editorial hand.
Amiga’s list– as far as the free trial would let me see– is small. It’s probably most advisable to use this tool if you’re not looking for a large press list or prefer very highly targeted outreach.
Pricing: Amiga’s pricing is not immediately available online.
PRophet is a dual AI toolkit for all your outreach needs.
First, you work with Taylor, its in-house AI pitch and press release generator. Then, once your release is ready, PRophet aggregates a list for you. What this platform doesn’t have is the ability to pitch through it; instead, you take the press list it generates and pitch journalists by hand (or build a duplicate of that list in a different PR platform you can pitch through.
Taylor is a competent AI generative platform. It takes keywords and develops a passable release or pitch. It also boasts a variety of tones to compose in:
Each provides a palpable difference in the text; “Professional” seems to be the best fit, though occasionally “Friendly” feels like a good fit for the more lighthearted outlets one might want to pitch.
A nice touch is that PRophet/Taylor allow you to do a side by side comparison of your input pitch and its output and you can choose which you’d prefer to work with. Taylor does an admirable job of polishing pitches or whipping up a pitch from nothing– certainly on par with what ChatGPT and its ilk have demonstrated. It also will create social media content for you:
Particularly for a smaller company or agency that might not have the labor power to have a separate social media department, creating social copy in one click could be a powerful tool for any PR pro looking to do more and stay on brand.
After approving the pitch, PRophet then creates a 25-50 person press list based on the content of your outreach materials. While it’s not clear how large their database is, how current the contacts are, or even what criterion they’re using to evaluate a good fit, at first glance the lists do seem relevant and filled with journalists that would likely share the material.
One of the most interesting aspects of PRophet, however, is its ability to gauge interest on the part of the journalists on its list. After you’ve tweaked your pitch or press release to satisfaction, you then press “pitch” (this does feel anxiety-inducing at first, as it is initially unclear whether you’re sending this to anyone or simply moving to the next stage in this process), and it generates a vertical-oriented list with contact info for each journalist, as well as the rough probability of how interested in your piece they’ll be.
One can then tweak the pitch to drive up interest probability. This is a great way to – should it be accurate- pressure test your outreach initiatives and adjust before you spend precious hours performing outreach. We’re excited to see more from PRophet!
Pricing: there’s a limited free version, as well as a “Pro” plan that starts at $299/month.
PressCloud is another platform with limited visibility without paying money to test it out. While it does have a free trial, half of the language appears to stay in Dutch regardless of what language setting your user profile might be. If we have any Dutch readers: read on! This might be useful to you!
PressCloud’s basic function is to analyze an inputted press release or pitch and match it along six variables (which variables they don’t say) to an AI-built list of journalists. This is promising: it’s a pity it’s hard to navigate even when all available language settings are set to English (many of the transitional screens are still in Dutch).
Upon entering a press release or a series of keywords, it seems one generates a campaign based on several possible topics the engine creates for you. From here, once a topic is chosen and a release generated, you have the opportunity to edit:
In true brand media kit fashion, it provides space for company info, as well as primary contact info and more imagery:
At this point, the inevitable paywall to the free trial comes up.
Sadly it seems that the only available journalists are Dutch, French, or Belgian, which does feel limiting from the other side of the Atlantic. From here the press list is generated, and relevant journalists are cultivated into a press list.
This list was a mixture of both outlets and journalists, running about 100 strong. As I’m not an expert in the Dutch media landscape, it’s harder to speak to how on-the-nose the AI list generator was in terms of relevancy and likely interest. That said, I really do wish this were more U.S.-centric, as the platform is powerful and seems very on target for what it promises: an easy PR platform that speeds you through the typical steps of outreach.
Pricing: You can pay 149 Euro once to try it out or you can enroll in assorted monthly payment plans.
PressHook bills itself as an ideal solution for CPG (consumer packaged goods) brands or agencies that work with brands. It boasts a range of features for creating everything from media lists to a full brand kit, promising to “leverage our AI-powered platform.” At time of writing there was very limited visibility into how or where AI is integrated into the outreach process, but we look forward to learning more.
ChatGPT, Bard, and Bing have been enjoying the lion’s share of attention around AI platforms, and for good reason: they’re great assistants or writing aids. But how do they stack up compared to the above platforms when it comes to list building?
The short answer: not great. Even internet-capable Bing seemed less than able to cultivate a media list that was ready-to-pitch– it instead would only dig up writer names OR even take a list from a PRM website like Prowly.
ChatGPT, meanwhile, happily provided emails, but to fictitious journalists, which is hardly useful. All platforms, when prompted about email addresses (even easily publicly available addresses!) balked at the suggestion due to privacy concerns. While this is understandable, if I am able to find an email easily in a Twitter bio, or even a website masthead, there is no reason why Bing or ChatGPT 4 (with internet) can’t do the same.
While many of the platforms discussed in this post are promising, particularly PRophet and Muckrack’s PressPal, the technology hasn’t reached a point in development where a PR pro can simply enter in relevant data and sit back and watch the pitching process unfold in robotic hands. On the other hand, the time consuming work of cultivating media lists looks like it will start taking considerably less time as AI hones its list building abilities.
As discussed in other posts, AI will certainly help the enterprising PR pro work smarter, not harder, but it’s a long way off before we simply don’t do any of the less glamorous work at all. Until then, we can keep testing out these new technologies and incorporate what works best for us.