Good PR software can be a publicist’s best friend—apps like Cision and Meltwater make building media lists, tracking down a reporter’s email and sending out pitches a far easier task. But with each product seeking to differentiate itself with new, specific features, it’s sometimes hard to tell which will actually save you time and which are just flashy expenses.
Over the last week, I test drove Prowly, a fairly popular app. Prowly allows potential users to access the “Basic” version of the software (with some restrictions) for one week before committing to a purchase, with no payment information required for the trial. I did a lot of poking around myself, and hopped on the phone for a half-hour demo with a Prowly representative to learn my way around its features.
Prowly breaks its PR tools into three categories: Brand Journal, Audience, and Pitch. To start, Brand Journal is Prowly’s most unique feature. This is all about building a newsroom for a brand that can live on their website, and be edited and updated in Prowly. Prowly cites Vimeo, Cadbury, and Citibank as a few popular brands who have built their online newsroom using Prowly’s software. Users can upload press releases, blogs, media assets, and contacts, and organize information into separate pages within the newsroom, if they like.
Brand Journal seemed extremely user friendly to me, and could streamline the task of updating a newsroom with a press release, so that an outside agency or junior staffer could do it without needing access to the brand’s site. The major drawback seemed to be that Brand Journal doesn’t allow for much customization. Of course, you can add your brand’s logos and photos to the page, but the default layout means your brand’s website design can’t flow into its newsroom.
Next is Audience, Prowly’s name for an essential feature for all PR software: media contacts. Like most applications, Prowly allows you to search for and save contacts, and create customized lists to segment your contacts into. Prowly impressed me with a few specific Audience tools: first, the app pulls relevant results without any proper name; for example, a search for “San Francisco tech” pulls a list of every reporter in their database who fits those tags. Second, you can upload private contacts from a spreadsheet, making bulk uploads pretty much as simple as adding them from a search. Third, Prowly will automatically flag any email addresses that have bounced and allow you to filter them out of future outreach with just one click. And last, Prowly lets you save broad search terms (like our “San Francisco tech” example) and use them to create dynamic, self-updating lists. The downside? If you’re used to software that’s been around longer, like Cision or Meltwater, you may find their database to be a tad limited, especially when searching for trade reporters.
Finally, there’s Pitch, which is designed to send all mass mailings to your selected audience. As the name suggests, it’s designed to streamline pitching to reporters, but could also prove useful to send out newsletters, rather than relying on a separate email distribution service. Prowly offers standard analytics on all mailings—open rate, click rates, bounces—and also allows you to organize individual mailings into campaigns, so you can view all your work and overall performance for an entire campaign. Unfortunately, Prowly only offers unlimited emails on their most expensive plan, with the “Basic” and “Pro” packages including a monthly cap.
All features considered, Prowly seems like an excellent choice for a freelancer or small PR team, especially if you’re looking to purchase PR software for the first time. It’s simple to use, its features cover all your bases, and with a starting price around only $100 a month, it’s a reasonable expense for your business. But those managing a lot of clients and campaigns at once may find Prowly too limiting for their requirements. If you’re interested in testing it out, you can visit Prowly’s site to sign up for your own trial and see how it works for you.