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- Communications software is a $4.8 billion industry.
- These tech vendors help PR pros do things like monitor social media and accurately measure campaigns.
- Insider identified 27 top PR software companies, ranging from heavyweights like Cision to new players like Blackbird.AI.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
After acquiring Kantar Reputation Intelligence in August, private equity firm Symphony Technology Group just grabbed two more PR tech companies, Onclusive and PRGloo. And the PE company has merged all three to create one of the world's largest PR tech firms.
STG's big bet underscores investors' growing enthusiasm for PR software — an industry worth $4.8 billion in 2020, up 6.66% over the prior year, according to research and advisory firm Burton-Taylor International Consulting.
It consists of PR software companies that help PR experts in areas like measurement, journalist and influencer databases, campaign planning, social media listening, and crisis detection.
New PR software startups like measurement platform Prophet have entered the fray, helped by interest from private equity and venture capital firms, while others like NewsWhip are considering raising more funding in 2022.
Meanwhile, PR firms like Real Chemistry and Edelman are racing to build out their own tech offerings to differentiate themselves and sell services like data analytics and measurement.
Insider identified the 27 players in this space, based on our reporting, that are used by many brands and PR pros to solve their toughest challenges like monitoring social media, managing corporate websites, staying ahead of crises, and planning campaigns.
Here are the companies, listed in alphabetical order.
Though nominally a conference company, Access Intelligence has been on a tech buying spree after raising about $80 million over the past couple years to expand on its flagship product, Vuelio, which monitors news, social media chatter, political activity and provides other services.
It's snapped up influencer and journalist database ResponseSource; social listening and audience intelligence company Pulsar; and APAC media monitoring company Isentia.
With these acquisitions, Access is trying to position itself as a tech vendor that can do everything for its 6,000 clients, which include Honda and Unilever.
Founded in 2016, Blackbird.AI helps companies fight online disinformation. It detects if a brand is trending online because of its association with controversial topics like racism or climate change. By scanning billions of text-based posts and meme content, it can suss out what kinds of users, whether they're bots or humans, are spreading disinformation.
In September 2021, Blackbird.AI raised $10 million in a Series A round from investors like Dorilton Ventures, part of private equity firm Dorilton.
Blackbird.AI CEO Wasim Khaled wants to use that capital to win accounts with adtech companies and help them single out web pages spreading disinformation, instead of blocking web domains or keywords, which can end up defunding credible news outlets.
One of the world's biggest newswires, Business Wire lets clients distribute press releases and regulatory disclosures to the investors, journalists, and the general public.
Its 16 newsrooms help clients like Apple, Amazon, and Pfizer disclose information that meets regulatory requirements. Founded in 1961, the company has 428 employees.
Berkshire Hathaway-owned Business Wire has technology partnerships with the likes of Muck Rack, Onclusive, reporting and compliance platform Workiva, and investor relations software company Q4.
Cision, the world's largest PR software company, has a platform that stitches together services like media monitoring, social listening, and measurement. Its vast database of contacts, which includes 1.4 million journalists and more than 1 billion influencers, is essential to PR pros.
Cision has used backing from private equity firm Platinum Equity to spend billions to buy 13 companies like PR Newswire and measurement companies Trendkite and Prime Research, bundling them into a cloud platform.
It's shifting into social media, where, like rival Meltwater, it's poured hundreds of millions to acquire smaller companies. In this year's biggest PR tech deal, for instance, Cision acquired Brandwatch for $450 million.
The data and intelligence arm of PR giant Edelman has built one of the most comprehensive research, data, and AI solutions. Edelman collects data across channels, develops analytics and measurement tech, and lets clients send personalized messages to customers, among other things.
Led by global chief data and analytics officer Yannis Kotziagkiaouridis, who came from Wunderman Thompson in 2019, the 450-person business unit is made up of researchers, data scientists and engineers, behavioral and machine-learning experts and performance marketing specialists. Clients include Cigna, Hologic, and Microsoft's Xbox.
The 6-year-old company claims it can help high-net worth people control their online image by creating profiles on its platform that surface on the first or second pages of Google's search results. It also audits their digital profiles to spot crises lurking behind the corner and performs real-time media and social media monitoring.
That pitch has won The Marque clients in the professional and financial services sectors like Will Greenwood of software company Afiniti and Tim Levy, CEO of Future Capital Partners, while attracting $4.13 million in funding from investors like CVC Capital's Dominic Murphy and Twin Point Capital's Lawrence Guffey.
Meltwater, the second biggest PR software company in the world, started as a news monitoring service.
Now, AI technology and social media monitoring is its fastest-growing business, up 53% to $166 million in annual recurring revenue in the first nine months of 2021 versus the year-ago period.
Meltwater has spent tens of millions this past year buying up social media acquisitions like Klear and Linkfluence to position itself as an all-in-one measurement and crisis management platform — and it's far from done.
Meltwater went public in December and is listed on European stock exchange Euronext. Its IPO raised $395 million, allowing it to pay down debt, pursue more mergers and acquisitions, and acquire more customers.
Annual recurring revenue rose 15% year over year to $431 million through the third quarter.
Entrepreneur Eddie Kim founded measurement company Memo to provide precise readership metrics for PR agencies through exclusive data from publishers including Condé Nast, Forbes, and The Washington Post.
Those exclusive rights give Memo an edge over players who rely on third-party data providers and have helped it win clients like Google, Walmart, Samsung, and Allbirds.
Kim said he originally saw Memo as a marketplace that sold data for individual stories, but the company is now analyzing the data for clients so they don't have to find insights themselves.
In March 2021, Memo raised $7 million in seed funding from investors like MHS Capital and Susa Ventures.
Under CEO Diana Littman, Publicis-owned PR agency MSL has been building its own tech platform to sharpen its measurement offerings, helping it win clients like P&G, Cadillac, and White Claw.
MSL launched a 250-million member influencer marketing platform, increased its tech budget, and partnered with Onclusive on measurement. It's also been rolling out customized solutions for clients and improving services like measurement, media monitoring, and social listening.
Muck Rack started in 2011 as a database of journalists based on what they write and their social media activity.
Since then, Muck Rack has become an all-in-one Saas company by bundling other services like monitoring and distribution into its platform. More recently, it's built a database of newsletter writers and added podcast audience metrics.
CEO Greg Galant said the 130-plus person company has grown revenue more than 60% year-over-year since its founding, and is now profitable.
Clients include brands like Taco Bell, Pfizer, and JP Morgan Chase, and agencies including Weber Shandwick, Ketchum, and MSL.
Netbase Quid is a market intelligence company that formed when social media analytics provider Netbase acquired text analytics firm Quid in early 2020.
Netbase Quid says that it collects data from social media posts, consumer reviews, product reviews, news articles, and other sources to help clients stay on top of business trends and competitors.
The 250-person company's clients include American Airlines, FleishmanHillard, Coca-Cola, and Yum Brands. Collectively, Netbase and Quid have raised almost $200 million.
Former Business Wire president Gregg Castano founded News Direct in 2019 to shake up the press release distribution business.
News Direct's pitch is that it streamlines the process of writing and publishing press releases and lets clients publish infographics, videos, and other kinds of content with a flat rate pricing model.
The 17-person company, which sold a small stake to holding company North Sixth Group in 2021, has clients like Comcast, Hill + Knowlton Strategies, and APCO Worldwide and expects to top $1 million in annual revenue in 2021.
Founded in 2011, NewsWhip tracks the spread and impact of stories published on social media to help clients like McDonald's, Samsung, and Ogilvy handle crises, improve media relations, and understand their audiences.
The company is on track to record revenue between $8 and $10 million for 2021.
The 60-person company has raised a total of $9.5 million across two rounds of funding from equity investors that includes the Associated Press. The company may explore a Series B funding round in 2022.
Telecommunications company Intrado took on global players like Meltwater and Cision in 2019 by launching its own PR software offering, Notified, in 2019.
Intrado merged Notified's media monitoring and measurement services with software it acquired the year before to create a platform where PR reps can host virtual events and earnings results, distribute press releases, and find journalists.
Virtual events have been a particular growth area for Notified, which recently acquired Hubb to capitalize on the rise of hybrid events.
Apollo Global Management-owned Notified has 10,000 clients including Intel, The Home Depot, and Novartis.
Data science company Onclusive's flagship product is PR Attribution, which gives brands intel like how many people read a piece of content about their company and visited their website. More recently, it launched offerings in social listening and reporting and a media contact database.
Clients of the 100-person firm include 23andme, Airbnb, and Lyft.
Backed by Salesforce Ventures, Mohr Davidow, Storm Ventures, and Pereg Ventures, Onclusive has tripled sales over the past three years.
Three-year-old software company Propel boasts a media database with more than 1 million journalists, 50 million influencers, and 3 billion articles.
It also has an online and broadcast monitoring service and AI tool to help PR pros tailor their pitches to journalists and influencers.
Its 150 clients include Google, W2O, and The Daily Mail. It's raised $1.1 million in seed funding led by California startup accelerator LogicBoost Labs.
Prophet is a new player in the communications software market.
Launched by MDC Partners' PR agency KWT Global in 2020, it analyzes journalists' coverage to help clients like Ironman predict which journalists to pitch, how much the story will spread, and how it'll be covered.
The 17-person company has partnered with companies like Podchaser and Peak Metrics to help users find podcast shows where they can feature their clients, add more journalist coverage and contact information, and expand its operations outside the US.
Next up, Prophet wants to launch a Grammarly-like feature to help PR pros improve their pitches to journalists.
PublicRelay is an up-and-coming PR measurement company that high-profile brands like Berkshire Hathaway and New York Life hire when they need accurate results.
Unlike other PR measurement providers that rely entirely on AI, which can lead to inaccurate results, PublicRelay uses a team of human analysts to weed out bad results after its platform ingests article data.
Beyond measurement, PublicRelay is trying to get into predictive analytics with a service that predicts which articles will go viral.
The 100-person company recently sold a majority stake to Tritium Partners for an undisclosed amount to hire more analysts and tech developers, which will allow PublicRelay to tap into more datasets ranging from market research to job boards like Glassdoor, PublicRelay CEO Eric Koefoot said.
Founded in 2018, Qwoted connects journalists with experts and allows PR pros to pitch reporters.
While other companies like Help a Reporter Out also provide this service, Qwoted's pitch is that it doesn't allow PR pros to spam journalists. CEO Dan Simon calls Qwoted "Bumble for journalists" because it lets reporters determine how and if they want to be contacted.
Qwoted has 40,000 users, including 750 PR agencies and 2,000 brands. There are also 5,000 journalists, freelancers, event organizers, TV bookers, and TV producers. The company raised $3 million in seed funding in June 2021 from venture capital firm Third Prime, which led the round.
The healthcare marketing and PR firm has gobbled up 12 companies over the past five years, including data analytics companies like Swoop and social media analytics provider Symplur.
These deals give Real Chemistry access to billions of data points, including 300 million anonymous patients and social media data. It also has a data partnership with health information tech company Datavant.
It uses that data for clients like Abbott Laboratories, for which it helped find and target people suffering from leaky heart syndrome.
Beyond campaigns like that, Real Chemistry wants to help clients launch products faster and identify patients and physicians to sign up for clinical trials.
David Benigson, founder and CEO of Signal AI, started in media monitoring and since 2019 has moved into areas like compliance.
Signal AI analyzes information from regulatory, social media, broadcast, radio, and alternative data sets like SEC filings and net promoter scores.
For example, Signal AI helped Deloitte's tax division keep track of changes in tax codes and automatically send alerts to Deloitte clients, according to TechCrunch.
Founded in 2013, Signal AI has 157 employees and 600 clients, which includes HSBC, Citigroup, and Save the Children. It's raised $49.5 million across two rounds, most recently in 2019 with a round led by Redline Capital. Other investors include MMC Ventures, GMG Ventures, and Hearst Ventures.
Founded in 2009, Talkwalker is a social listening and analytics company used by more than 2,500 brands and agencies. It's now trying to expand into consumer intelligence, snapping up companies like Nielsen Social, Reviewbox, Surrey, and Deepreason.ai.
Since selling a majority stake to Marlin Equity Partners in 2018, Talkwalker has more than doubled its client volume to include Spotify, Adidas, and Publicis, growing revenue 38% in 2020.
It's also released new features, including video and image visualization tools, and TikTok analytics.
As PR pros cultivate relationships with influencers as well as journalists, they're using platforms like Traackr to manage and amplify their campaigns.
Founded in 2007, the 70-person company has more than 200 clients like L'Oréal, Coach, Expedia, and Samsung. It's raised $14.5 million over five rounds from investors like growth equity firm Workhorse Capital and You & Mr. Jones.
Recently, Traackr has focused on providing metrics that show how influencer marketing campaigns perform over time and compared to campaigns run by competitors.
Launched in 2014, this AI startup helps executives and influencers sift through thousands of news outlets, social media platforms, and other forms of publicly available data. Turbine says it saves its clients the headache of searching for this information themselves by delivering easily digestible intel in the form of briefings that help them make business decisions.
Denver, Colorado-based Turbine doesn't release financial information, but it says that it recorded double digit revenue growth since it was founded, and it anticipates doubling its year-over-year revenues by the end of 2021 and becoming cash-flow positive by the first quarter of 2022.
Turbine has raised a total of $4.5 million from angel investors and venture capital debt and said it may explore institutional funding in early 2022.
TVEyes is a broadcast and podcasting monitoring service that transcribes audio and video content into text for clients in 25 countries.
Political campaigns often hire TVEyes to monitor ad content and keep tabs on their opponents' moves, but the company is also used by Fortune 500 brands and global media agencies. Its tech also powers PR software companies like Cision, Meltwater, and Burrelles.
Jonathan Morgan launched AI software company Yonder in 2017 to analyze how stories and conversations spread across social media and influence public opinion, focusing on groups like Russian state actors and ISIS.
Now, the 25-person company is using those same tools to help clients like Johnson & Johnson, Disney, and Walmart tamp down on crises and track disinformation. For example, Fast Company reported on Yonder's analysis of how anti-vaxxers are pushing the idea that vitamin C can prevent people from getting the coronavirus.
Yonder said it's averaged 23% annual revenue growth since 2017. It's raised $18 million in seed and Series A funding from investors like GGV Capital, Lux, Build Group, Moonshots Capital, and Haystack.
Zignal Labs started in 2011 as a tech platform to provide real-time data and analytics to political campaigns. Its approach has attracted brands like Levi's, Prudential, and The Lending Club looking to manage their reputations and tamp down on misinformation and disinformation.
Its raised $59.9 million in total funding from investors like Blum Capital Partners and North Atlantic Capital, according to Crunchbase.
The 65-person company is led by Guy Churchward, former CEO of cloud data management company Datera and president of the core technologies division at Dell EMC.
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