TL; DR: By connecting organizations of all sizes with journalists eager to share their stories, Muck Rack maximizes the impact of good publicity. The PR software platform enables professionals to send targeted story ideas to relevant reporters, monitor the news and issues affecting their brand, and build reports that measure the reach of particular campaigns. CEO and Co-Founder Greg Galant shared his experience on both sides of the news cycle, along with ways businesses can become more effective and efficient with public relations.
As one of the first companies to produce in-flight internet and entertainment, Gogo presented a unique challenge to its communication team. In addition to struggling to find journalists who covered the emerging industry, Gogo communicators were inundated with hundreds of customer service-related tweets — and missing relevant notifications about market trends and competitors.
“Our business is incredibly complex, and it’s a new industry,” the former Associate Communications Manager Morgan Painter said in a case study. “From a media perspective, it creates some challenges. Being able to appropriately identify those monitoring our industry — whether that be the growth, the technology, or new airline partners, and get them to understand our business and long-term goals is huge.”
Instead of manually monitoring social media mentions and scouring the internet for reporters covering a specific niche of the airline industry, Morgan turned to Muck Rack, a marketing platform that helps organizations find relevant journalists, monitor news events, and measure their PR reach.
“Seeing these important media alerts come straight to my inbox in real time is a major benefit,” Morgan said. “Being able to stay in front of the news gives us the ability to anticipate and plan for various scenarios.”
Muck Rack’s Experience on Both Sides of Media Relationships
Greg Galant was well-versed in both the news cycle and technology entrepreneurship when he launched Muck Rack in 2009. After starting a web development firm at age 14, he worked for a tech venture capital fund and later at CNN, where he analyzed citizens’ media trends.
During the early days of companies like Twitter, Yelp, and LinkedIn, Greg often spoke with company founders as part of his podcast interview series. In fact, he’s part of Twitter’s exclusive first-name club; you can find him at @gregory.
“I saw all this great stuff happening on Twitter that no other cable news provider would follow,” Greg said.
Recognizing the importance of crowdsourcing and the power of social media, he launched The Shorty Awards to honor the best content creators on social networks. The program quickly began trending on Twitter, and journalists from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and BBC all reached out within 24 hours.
“We saw the early days of how journalism was changing, how journalists were finding stories in new ways, how the news cycle was speeding up, and new ways to connect with journalists,” Greg said. “That led us to start Muck Rack, which has evolved to be both a tool for journalists but also for people who want to get press, whether they’re part of a Fortune 500 business or small agency.”
Saving Time and Taking Advantage of a Faster News Cycle
Given his experience in media, Greg agrees with many reporters, publishers, businesses, and news consumers that noteworthy stories and issues are moving more quickly than they used to.
“The news cycle just plays out so much faster now than it did even 10 years ago, and definitely compared to 15 or 20 years ago,” he said. “That’s what led us to develop a lot of new technologies and tools that could impact coverage and spot news articles by journalists.”
Muck Rack indexes the news and tweets from journalists to send real-time alerts to customers whenever their brand, industry, or relevant keyword is mentioned in the media.
“It can be useful for new opportunities, like seeing a journalist announcing he’ll be at the same conference as you,” Greg said. “You can meet them, mention a story they’re working on, and go from there. If they talk about how they love bikes, and you invented something that makes bikes better, you have that angle.”
In addition to enabling PR pros to capitalize on hot topics, the service is especially relevant to help companies identify and strategize how to respond to an emerging crisis.
“That can be so important, for you to get on top of a potential crisis right away,” Greg said. “Knowing about it sooner gives you a chance to formulate your message, prepare your team, and figure out how to fix whatever the underlying problem is.”
How Muck Rack Fixes the Biggest Mistake PR Pros Make
Since the start, Greg said that Muck Rack’s mission is to ensure the right media professionals receive the right story ideas. Instead of sending 1,000 technology journalists the same message, Muck Rack helps communicators identify the most relevant reporters.
“On a list of 500 journalists, there might have been 10 people who would have been perfect to tell your story,” Greg said. “Instead of sending those 10 people the same form message you sent to the other 490, you could spend more time customizing your outreach and providing a lot more value to the people who will actually cover you.”
By indexing everything journalists publish and tweet, Muck Rack pioneered a targeting method that provides a greater level of detail. Rather than identifying technology writers, for instance, Muck Rack users can find which people write specifically about hardware, CSS, or SEO.
“Going the traditional route, you’re wasting your time,” Greg said. “From a PR perspective, too, it damages your reputation. The journalist will, at the very least, mark your message as spam and ignore future emails.”
Tracking Relationships, Creating Reports to Determine Impact
Once an article is written and published, Muck Rack alleviates another common pain point among PR firms and communications teams: When is the company or client mentioned in the media? By whom? How many people saw the article?
“Originally, PR firms or marketing teams would have someone take an article found through a Google Alert and copy/paste it into an Excel spreadsheet with the title, the author, and the date,” Galant said. “They’d spend hours and hours going through this practice every week.”
Muck Rack automates the entire process, providing reports based on keywords, a brand name, or other user-defined topic that can then be easily shared through an Excel spreadsheet, PDF, or a simple email to colleagues.
“You can go even further than that, too, and provide data about the impact of the article,” Greg said, mentioning social media shares and a publication’s unique visitors per month. “We’re going into a lot more detail on the reporting front in terms of letting our customers visualize the data and get access to more information. They can have a tool that’s as sophisticated as the platforms sales teams use to keep tabs on every touch point of the media cycle.”