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Cision Review: One Stop Shop for PR

By August 9, 2016April 25th, 2017Guide to PR, Public Relations

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.

Press release distribution platforms can make the process of getting your company’s news out easier and more effective. Cision is one of the leaders in the space, offering tools to write, format, and distribute press releases; to identify target journalists and publications and build media lists, and to track and monitor coverage and impact. For large companies with advanced PR programs, Cision can be a great tool to create and automate targeted media campaigns.

Cision Public Relations Edition (CPRE) is what the company calls its suite of products for media management, covering both online and offline media. The software provides four core services – finding influencers and building media lists; creating and distributing PR and marketing content; managing press releases; and analyzing the performance of your media. Boasting a global database of over a million contacts Cision connects businesses with influencers in print, broadcast, and social media.

Cision DesktopCision has deep roots in traditional print media. It began its life as Bacon’s, a news clipping service that would provide companies with physical clips of mentions in any newspaper or magazine in the world. Managing all those publications involved extensive databases, which evolved into a comprehensive media directory, which in turn naturally evolved into its online media database.

The PR management tool offered by Cision allows you to distribute press releases across major channels with built-in access to subsidiary PRWeb to distribute your announcements to major news outlets including traditional media such as newspapers, trade and news magazines in print and online; and to broadcast TV stations and websites.

Cision’s content campaign management tools let you create content and publish it in your own branded social newsroom. Your content will be promoted through Cision’s news feed, as well as to major news sites such as CNN, Reuters, etc.

Cision also offers social engagement tools that allow you to publish news to social networks from within the platform and to identify and rank social media influencers in your industry.

Cision’s core strength is a media database of more than 1.6 million contacts, outlets, and pitchable opportunities–which it claims is the largest in the world–to help you find the journalists, bloggers, and social influencers who are relevant to your stories. “CPRE allows you to tell your story, whether you want to distribute a news release or share your story across social channels, you can deliver all of your content with one simple tool,” says Stacey Miller, senior communications manager at Cision.

What’s New

Here is what Stacey says are the key benefits of CPRE. “CPRE provides comprehensive media monitoring to understand the full impact of your coverage. You can listen to what people are saying about your brand across millions of social, broadcast, print, and online sources and track all of those conversations in one place. Beyond tracking, CPRE allows you to measure and analyze a story’s impact to help drive the success of future campaigns. Business pros can learn what messages and channels are working, and how to most effectively reach their audiences and also understand brand reputation and boost ROI.”

New features added by Cision include Twitter Engagement Tracking. Users can now automatically record and access Twitter conversations with reporters and influencers to help build and nurture ongoing relationships. Cision has also added Media Outlet Conversion Tracking that allows users to link their Google Analytics accounts directly to Cision PR Edition. Within the platform, you can see which media outlets are driving web traffic and whether this traffic is converting to sales, sign-ups, and other goals. Also, through a licensing agreement with the Tribune Content Agency, Cision users can view the full text of more than 80 newspapers in the Cision PR Edition.

Cision PR Edition aims to make press release creation and distribution easier by integrating with PRWeb and Help A Reporter Out (HARO). Instead of logging into to multiple products–one to build your list, another to draft your release, another to send the release, another to monitor social channels–Cision PR Edition bundles multiple products to create what they call a “one-stop-shop for press release creation, distribution, and measurement in tandem with your aligning communications activities.”

PRWeb Press Release Distribution

When Cision acquired media database rival Vocus, it also acquired online press release distribution platform PRWeb. PRWeb has become one of the leading wire services with tools that can be used to create, distribute, and track news releases. PRWeb offers access to 30,000+ journalists and bloggers and 250,000+ PRWeb opt-in news subscribers. Your release is also hosted on, which receives some 3 million visitors each month. Detailed analytics let you see the immediate impact of your online news release. You’ll learn how many people read your release, where it was picked up, how many times it was shared, and where your prospects learned about your business.

Most press release distribution platforms (PR Newswire*, Business Wire, Marketwire) send press releases to major online news outlets (Yahoo!, Bloomberg, Reuters, etc) which are in turn picked up by online versions of local newspapers, TV station websites, and the like. Check out our blog Which PR Wire Service is Right for You to learn more about the wire service options available.

A couple of advantages that PRWeb offers are pricing and integration within the CPRE. For Cision users, using PRWeb for press release distribution simplifies the distribution process because you only need to use one tool to manage your press release creation, distribution, monitoring, and communications with journalists and publications. Another benefit of PRWeb is its pricing model. PRWeb charges flat fees based on distribution rather than on word count. This seems to make sense, especially in the era of online press distribution, where a press release with 800 words doesn’t really cost any more to distribute than a press release with 2,000 words.

The screenshot below shows the PRWeb press release authoring interface. It is easy to use and you only have to drop in the different sections of your announcement (Headline, Summary, Body, Contact Info, Image, Video, etc), and the tool will do the formatting and layout of the release.

PRWeb Platform

You can also select your distribution criteria, selecting the countries, states, cities, industries to target.

*On June 17, 2016, Cision closed its acquisition of PR Newswire, of the largest press release distribution companies in the world. Moving forward, the company looks to integrate PR Newswire’s products and features into the CRPE platform to expand global content distribution.

PRWeb Platform Selection

HARO – The Journalist Pitches You!

Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a Cision service that connects journalists with relevant expert sources stories. Reporters looking for sources for stories reach out–anonymously or not– through this platform. That’s right, with HARO, reporters pitch you! HARO is used by 35,000 journalists and more than 475,000 sources have signed on, making it a great tool for brands and reporters alike. You simply register, select what topics you are interested in, and get three daily emails with a list of queries from journalists writing on that topic.

HARO Sign UpHere’s what a daily email looks like.

HARO Example

Does HARO work? It sure can. In his excellent blog, “If you’re not using HARO you just don’t give a damn,” “Bulldog” reporter Gary Frisch says, “In the past six months alone, my clients or I have grabbed the attention of writers from Forbes, Inc., the Associated Press, AOL’s Daily Finance, Nightclub & Bar Magazine, The Washington Post,, and The Huffington Post, as a result of HARO. I have formed good relationships with some writers and content producers and reignited other relationships.” Gary has a lot of great advice on how to respond to HARO queries.

It’s a good idea to make it part of your daily routine to read over the HARO editions for any queries that could be relevant to you. You never know who could be looking to speak with someone in your area of expertise. Also, whether you are submitting a query or pitching a reporter, always be specific. Reporters do not want to waste time sorting through irrelevant pitches and sources do not want to waste time developing a pitch for a vague query. This benefits everyone in the end. Learn more about HARO in our blog post, How to Be a SuperHARO.

Public relations campaigns can be complex and time-consuming. Platforms like CPRE aim to make it easier by bundling some of the moving parts–research, planning, writing, relationship-building, pitching, analyzing, and reporting. For large businesses with active PR programs that need most or all of the features Cision offers, it can be a great choice. The time it saves versus using multiple platforms for PR release distribution, media list building, emailing and pitching journalists and putting a press release on a wire service can justify much of the cost. Of course, the platforms can only do so much. You also have to have a good, newsworthy story and PR strategy. For more on this see our blog, 7 Best Practices to Get Your Press Release Covered and Not Buried.

This blog post is part of “The Ultimate Guide to Public Relations” blog series.