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Propel Raises $4.5 Million Seed Round Led by NFX to Reimagine Earned Media

February 21, 2022
The propel Team

The pioneer of PRM introduces the Pitch Network to help millions of communications pros and journalists collaborate and publish meaningful coverage

Tel Aviv, Israel— February __, 2022— Propel, the Earned Media Management platform known for inventing PRM (CRM for earned media), announced today that it raised $4.5 million in seed funding to double down on its industry-leading innovation with the development of the AI-driven Pitch Network. The round was led by top-tier venture capital firm NFX, with participation from VSC Ventures and Guy Schory (Chief Digital Officer at Endeavor). Additionally, Christina Smedley (former CMO at Robinhood and head of communications at Facebook Messenger) and Avrom Gilbert (former COO of SimilarWeb) have joined the Propel Advisory Board.

A Growing Opportunity

Propel aims to democratize earned media for millions of businesses globally and fix the  ever-growing schism between communication professionals and journalists. Earned media is the fastest-growing channel in the marketing mix due to the need for brand credibility and rising ad costs – and yet journalists and influencers were 32% less responsive to pitches from comms pros last year, compared with 2020. 

The Pitch Network, which is part of the Propel SaaS platform, changes the way organizations find the right media and the way media discover relevant sources. By using AI to connect the two sides and reveal the preferences and requests of each, Propel is killing the mass pitch and ending the era of spray-and-pray media relations. Communications professionals and journalists can finally work together to achieve the common goal of publishing meaningful, relevant coverage. 

Propel’s SaaS-enabled technology allows marketing and communication professionals to discover relevant media to pitch, manage their relationships and campaigns, monitor coverage and share of voice of their brand, as well as measure ROI from earned media including traffic, form submissions, purchases and other conversions. On the flipside, starting in Q2 2022, the platform will enable journalists and influencers to discover sources, manage their stories, and measure reach and sentiment of their published work. 

Groundbreaking Innovation

Propel has launched many first-of-a-kind features as the creator of PRM, including the industry’s only native Gmail and Outlook email pitch plug-ins, proprietary preferences for each journalist and influencer (including preferred topics and day/time to be pitched), drill-down productivity metrics including open, response and publish rate, and reports that reveal traffic and business goal completions resulting directly from media coverage.

Propel has more than 150 business and agency customers, including Real Chemistry, Textron, Insurify and many other unicorns. The funding, which is the second tranche of Propel’s seed round, brings the company’s total funds raised to $6 million.

“I owned a communications firm for nearly a decade before founding Propel in order to solve the pain points of earned media that I experienced. By developing advanced AI and workflows that allow marketing and communication people to work in harmony with journalists and influencers, Propel will help millions of businesses reach their audience, tell their stories and earn meaningful coverage. I’m very excited to partner with NFX and our other investors to continue revolutionizing earned media,” said Propel Co-Founder and CEO Zach Cutler. 

“In today’s changing media landscape businesses are constantly struggling to gain coverage. Propel is the first platform that allows businesses to automate and enhance their media outreach”, says NFX’s General Partner Gigi Levy-Weiss. “We believe every company needs the Propel solution and that the Propel network - connecting brands and media - will become the future of any business-media relationship.” Levy-Weiss has joined the Propel Board of Directors.

A Win for DE&I

Propel is leading the way in diversity and inclusion within earned media. In December, the company launched accessibility features in its SaaS platform that improve ease-of-use for visually impaired, dyslexic and other differently-abled individuals. 

This feature makes Propel the only accessible earned media software, and was the first initiative of the Propel Diversity Board. With the goal of providing equal opportunities for comms professionals and journalists from various backgrounds, including BIPOC, LGBTQ+ and differently-abled communities, the newly created diversity board helps incorporate seldom considered perspectives into product development and expands access to stories and storytellers in overlooked communities.

The diversity board, established in November 2021, consists of Tanisha Colon-Bibb (Founder of Rebelle Agency), Dana Kaye (Founder of Kaye Publicity), and Propel Co-Founder and CEO Zach Cutler, who has a mobility disability.

The funding round advances accessibility in earned media and makes Cutler one of the only differently-abled tech founders in the world to have raised over $5 million in venture capital and be backed by a tier-one VC firm.