Analyzing This...

One on One with Cision’s Peter Granat

In General Analysis on February 9, 2015 at 9:00 am

UPDATE: 10:01 AM February 9th – Cision sent out this announcement to customers today  which provides further explanation: “Coming this spring, you’ll have the option to upgrade to our new edition, which has easier navigation and a sleek new design, for no additional cost. “

There is also the option to get early access to the new edition. All you have to do is sign up and Cision will let you know when you can upgrade and in exchange provide some real-world feedback.

CisionLogoPeter Granat is in the middle of the largest Public Relations vendor consolidation the industry has seen… I dare say ever. Within 6 months in 2014 GTCR announced it had

acquired Cision, Vocus, Visible Technologies and Gorkana all with Peter Granat at the helm.

I spoke with Mr. Granat last month to see how this effort is moving forward.

The Integration

While at Cision Mr. Granat saw 8 acquisitions between 2004 and 2008, including MultiVision, Delahaye, MediaMap etc. The constant between many of these acquisitions has been that the business layer is very similar making integration easier due to similarities on thought leadership and product positioning. The same holds with the four organizations he is pulling together now.

“We have the opportunity to combine these companies with a fresh start around the core values of the business” – Peter Granat commenting on the integration progress

Our conversation was very polished; after all Peter has been speaking with press, employees, clients and making his case with GTCR for months around this mash-up , so no surprise there. As I’ve been told by current and former employees he is personable and transparent which helps breakdown cultural barriers between the companies.

The main thing that stood out during our conversation is this: Mr. Granat is making things happen despite cultural differences and deep seeded animosity (Vocus vs. Cision) that has existed for years. His leadership is what will make these individual companies & cultures come together and provide a formidable option in the marketplace once everything is all pulled together.

A Surprise Reveal

An account executive called me last week to provide an update on the merger and the new features available to clients. After providing the same items that I already knew from using the Vocus system (things just show up like content from LexisNexis) or was told by Mr. Granat during our call they provided the tidbit that I had been hoping to find out about.

The question of which platform would move forward and which would be ‘retired’.

The current edition of CisionPoint is going to be retired in late 2016.

The upgraded edition is going to be based on the Vocus software. An updated interface will ultimately deliver all the goodies from Cision, Vocus, Gorkana and Visible Technologies to current and future customers.

When I spoke to Mr. Granat he did not commit to which product would be the basis of the ‘New Platform’ so this was exciting to hear. Time frames on this are not public however Mr. Granat noted users can expect to see a rolling update of features (in both Vocus and Cision) as 2015 goes along. Now we know the updates will be focused on the product formally known as Vocus.

Mr. Granat was very clear that when the time comes clients will be migrated with plenty of time and training provided to transition to the “New Platform” smoothly when it is formally introduced.

Goodbye Vocus

vocuslogo On February 2nd the Vocus name was retired. In an announcement to users on January 30th Cision stated  “as a result of the combined strength of the new Cision family, our customers can access premium news content from LexisNexis and media evaluation through Cision’s Digital Reach tool. On February 2, we will retire the Vocus company name. Rest assured that the Vocus products, including the Vocus PR Suite, are still available and Cision will continue to support and enhance them.”

So while Cision won the branding, Vocus won in the technology and interface. A clear indication that Mr. Granat is focused on taking the best of all the acquisitions to make a compelling combined product offering.

In closing, all signs point to a solid offering being put together by talented teams from the entire Cision ecosystem (Cision, Vocus, Gorkana & Visible Technologies).

Not Feeling Bad About Being Old School

In General Analysis on January 16, 2015 at 8:33 am

thumbsupWE all DESIRE validation.

My puppy looks to me and my husband for validation. He is rewarded with treats or exuberant praise within 4 seconds of a desired action so he is good to go :)

Children look to their parents, teachers and peers to validate their choices, opinions and ideas on a regular basis to learn that what they are doing is accepted (correct, good etc).

As adults we present strategies and goals because we think they are a solid representation of where we believe the company should go and look to our peers and leadership to validate our idea through acceptance.

The requirement for validation ebbs and flows through out our lifetime. As children it is extremely important to us. As teenagers we secretly desire it but never dare to admit it. As adults it is dependent on the situation.

What I have found to be true for me is age coupled with experience provide a level of confidence that knocks the desire for validation down a peg or two or three.

Which is why I was surprised at just how validated I felt when I ran across this blog validating how I process information, even if it is old school. How I process information is not something I actively considered until the recent past.

Here is the quote that made me feel validated:

“Handwriting is slower and more laborious than typing, and so a student has to be more selective about what to record. Because the speed of longhand is lower than the speed of presentation, the student also must condense and summarize, thereby initiating a process of comprehension in the very act of taking notes.” Bauerlein, Mark (2015, January 12). To Students: Close Laptops, Use Pencils Retrieved from http://www.firstthings.com

After sitting through several meetings and professional development courses I began to notice the difference between old school (note taking with ink) and millennial laptop dependance.

I take notes with a pen and paper in a series of notebooks. I don’t use a laptop or tablet to take notes unless they are brief calendar appointments or lists of ideas (these cross over into the notebooks too) etc.

For this blog I conduct interviews as well as independent research. When I conduct interviews I try to use my conference call number and record the whole thing (fully disclosed to both parties) – so I have a second reference. What my interviewees are sometimes unaware of though is I’m taking pages of notes to help me process and formulate my ultimate post or posts.

I reference those notes time and again and they inspire new ideas long after the initial posting is completed. I don’t have to reference them though for the essence of what was discussed. The very act of note taking helps my post take shape.

Note Taking May Raise Eyebrows

In the professional environment, when I pull out my notebook to take notes I usually get a sideways glance because typically my laptop is open and front and center as well. I bring the laptop into meetings for one reason:

1. There are documents that are being referenced and I have them open on the laptop

If I’m not actively engaged in viewing said documents the laptop is closed and poised to spring into action. Whether you think about it or not the click-click of typing can be distracting in a meeting to others.

It also may be conveying to the speaker that you are not paying attention or fully interested in the topic at hand. In fact you probably aren’t because like many people faced with their laptop in front of them during a meeting they are multitasking by reading and/or responding to e-mail, killing pixels or updating their social streams.

My notebook allows me to take in what the speaker(s) is sharing and begin processing it as well as having a reference to access at anytime. That is the great thing about taking notes I’m not just hearing the speaker, but listening and processing with sharper contextual recall.

Universal Information Services – An Introduction

In PR Vendors on January 12, 2015 at 8:00 am

Our main goal is simply said as, “Empowering the PR Professional”… with media monitoring and measurement solutions. From a development perspective our focus on complete integration of all media types, not just some of the media types or some of the hits. – Todd Murphy, Vice President Universal Information Services

Universal Information Services Data

The core of the business has two parts; the first core competency is comprehensive coverage from print, TV, Radio, web and social media; the second wraps the core competency in a laser focused customer service culture that begets solid customer loyalty.

In Todd’s own words “…this is what we deliver to our clients, but in a service package that is unique for each client. There are circumstances when a SaaS or firmly defined product offering fits a clients’ needs, but our clients are more interested in the ability to customize the service around their specific needs.”

Product offering includes:

SmartWire – through a partnership with engage121 users can create their media lists and send out their press releases through this feature. It is easily accessible from within the SmartView portal.
SmartView  – this is the portal where print, digital and social content is presented to the customer.
Qualitative PR Measurement and Impact Scoring – this is all human-based analysis. Automation comes into play in gathering content but the actual reading, scoring, tagging etc is all done by real people.

Example Report

Universal Information Services product offering hits all the basics a communicator requires in the workflow. The expected ‘counts’ are all represented in the analytics and reporting (hits, impressions, tone (human-scored) etc.).

The reporting within the product and the samples I reviewed provide a helpful summary of what the news cycle contained.

As part of the service they read, edit and clip many publications directly through their Omaha office, thus not relying on a third party to provide content. However they also contract with affiliated, state bureaus to provide deeper reading of articles in other states as well as services like BurrellesLuce where needed to fulfill client business needs. All articles, regardless of their origin are clipped and processed through a proprietary system and are delivered via the SmartView platform.

What makes this process unique is that Universal Information Services provide what they have termed “State Level Reading”, which translates to the inclusion of more weekly publications than a national service.

What I came away with after running through the product offering and speaking to Todd and his team is that this company seriously focuses on customer service.

This focus is realized through product customization and that makes it their market differentiator.

It isn’t a sales pitch, it is how they work every day with every customer.

This is the reason Universal Information Services will continue to serve customers another 100+ years when others have been acquired, sold or simply shuttered.

See-Measure-Share

Check out their newly launched website at universal-info.com or call them (800) 408-3178 for more information or a demonstration of their services.

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