Cision CEO Talks Acquisitions, Pricing and Automated Pitches

cision

Earlier this month, we learned that Cision had followed its merger with Vocus by moving to Chicago and acquiring UK-based PR software provider/competitor Gorkana.

Today we spoke to Cision CEO Peter Granat — who also helped explain the Vocus merger over the summer — for his take on what this means for Cision customers and other PR professionals in terms of benefits, fees and future product development.

Why, strategically speaking, did Cision acquire Gorkana?

Our core thinking around changes in the landscape drove this decision. Gorkana is a UK market leader that also built a strong brand in the US and German markets, and it differs in its focus on the intersection between journalists and communications professionals with related alerts, job listings etc. Our goal [with this acquisition] is developing a stronger presence in UK and Germany, because most strategies are now global. We have to think and act both globally and locally.

Why Chicago for the new headquarters?

Cision has a long history in the marketplace with more than 300 employees and I live in Chicago with my family, as do many other executives. It’s a great city from which to expand. (The Vocus team will retain a strong presence in Maryland.)

What short-term changes in the service will users see?

There will be no immediate change in terms of contracts and rates, and customers will continue to have access to the services they purchased through 2015.

We are going to begin actively working on integrating the best of the features from each of the offerings: as we integrated PRWeb to Cision and LexisNexis to Vocus, so Gorkana will bring access to premium content and analytics tools. Current customers should expect to see a change in terms of benefits by February 2015.

What is the “premium content” in Gorkana’s case?

Deep profiles of individual journalists and contacts that are more extensive than some of the Cision/Vocus ones. This includes background/pitching information to promote best practices. It gives users more info and more context for each individual contact.

Also: access to broader UK media monitoring tools.

Our ultimate strategy is to simplify the offering, delivering the broadest range of services all integrated through a single provider.

Can you speak to smaller, boutique agencies or independent operations that may not find your services affordable?

Smaller operations usually use PR Web, and we will make investments to expand upon that service beyond basic press release distribution. Those changes will also come in the first half of 2015.

One of the key areas for combined business going forward is addressing how the job roles of PR pros are changing in terms of social media and content marketing versus “traditional” PR; PR Web will focus more on social/content marketing distribution (though it will still be primarily distribution). The broader Gorkana/Cision platform will be based around the entire content management process, from release to analysis.

How does this move reflect general changes in the industry?

Things like paid media are becoming part of the standard toolkit, with the largest agencies setting up entire divisions dedicated to paid. The move allows us to better serve them by investing in R&D related to content marketing, social media, and rich analytics.

Our various blogs currently receive a lot of poorly targeted, obviously automated pitches from people who use your service. How can we avoid this or improve on it?

Education always pays a key role in using these tools effectively, and that’s an area in which we’ll continue to make investments. Whether you’re in PR or direct marketing, just buying a list and not knowing whether it’s the right pitch is not an example of best practices. We are working on best practices approaches to using the tools in our suite, and Gorkana is also dedicated to education, where we will continue to invest moving forward.

And how can publishers/bloggers help PR more effectively use the service?

Through the Cision site, you can update your profile. Think of it as a soapbox to send messages to the entire industry — if they don’t follow the rules, you have every right to block them.