Kevin Akeroyd became global CEO at Cision last August and he is supremely excited about the company’s launch of its new integrated platform, the Cision Communications Cloud™.

The new offering, which launched in October, is the first of its kind in the communications industry to bring the power of the cloud to earned media and incorporates many of Cision’s award-winning technologies into one integrated platform, providing an effective way to connect, scale, and accurately measure the impact of earned media communications.

“No one has touched the third most critical part of a CMO’s world and that is earned media,” Akeroyd explained to Loyalty360.

Earned media includes influencers, word of mouth, public relations, and user generated content.

“All of this is equally important,” Akeroyd said. “The big guys (Oracle, Adobe, Salesforce) haven’t done anything with earned media. That’s really the mission.

Communications teams have had to manage very disparate systems, content, data, and analytics,” Akeroyd noted.

“When it comes to the mission critical communications function, the power of the cloud has yet to be unleashed,” Akeroyd said. “Just as the marketing mega players of Silicon Valley have successfully built cloud platforms to transform sales, marketing, and other functions, Cision is now bringing the power of the cloud to earned media.”

The Cision Communications Cloud includes harmonized features that connect clients with an ecosystem of partners, data, content, measurement, and strategic services, including the ability to:

Identify Influencers: Instantly gain access to nearly 1 million influencer profiles. Simple, yet powerful tools to build lists and view influencer profile data allow PR professionals to uncover which influencers reach their audience. Cision’s proprietary Influencer Graph maps influencers to the end-customers that matter. Media data is updated automatically, enabling communicators to focus on building great campaigns.

Craft Campaigns: Remove all communications silos with one place to simultaneously distribute news releases, send emails to influencers, and manage social posts. Increase media pickup and search visibility with access to PR Newswire, the world’s largest press release distribution network, integrated into the Communications Cloud. Refine messaging based on email and press release analytics to drive better engagement.

Attribute Value: Understand earned media campaign performance and the full reach of news coverage. Monitor message effectiveness across news channels and measure core metrics – including impressions, sentiment, prominence, and impact. Demonstrate how engagement with earned media directly correlated to website conversions or sales leads. Share results with stakeholders using executive reports and dashboards.

“The client is going to stop buying AVR, realizing that earned media needs the same level of focus, investment, and resources,” Akeroyd said. “With earned media, it’s one version. The fact that earned media has not taken measurement all the way down to hard ROI, conversion attribution, or even to unique reach and unique engagement at the top of the funnel, but stops at that influencer, is one of the biggest problems with our measurement at what paid and owned media do.”

The Cision Communications Cloud will be closing that loop and filling in all those blanks, Akeroyd said, and. Ultimately, “impact business by conversion, leads, or purchase. We’ll be tracking what drove that purchase (i.e. Instagram, earned media, a blog) and show brands what influencers drove that purchase.

Understanding earned media can be a bit tricky for marketers.

Influencers, Akeroyd said, can be journalists, community leaders, bloggers, or anyone that inspires others to act.

“The typical journalist receives 38,000 emails a year,” he noted, “and none are tailored to them with any specific thing in mind. When brands are, literally, shot-gunning it, hitting everybody with everything every time with no relevance, the influencers will tune you out. I’m only getting my messages out to influencers who care about this. Get the right message to the right people and make it creative and relevant to them. Earned media fails when it pitches everything to everyone.”

The biggest issue, Akeroyd noted, is the fact that “nobody has been able to say that a particular B2B blogger reached 92,000 people and 87,000 of them downloaded the video. We haven’t tied that to outreach and influencers. I can finally tie content to influencer to reach, engagement and, ultimately, the conversion.”

Brands have to find which influencers are telling the stories they want to tell, Akeroyd said.

“The technologies are interesting,” Akeroyd explained. “It’s about the right content to the right audience at the right time. I find these days that it’s the discipline of knowing how to get data and content together, and applying them to emerging channels and devices. What is complicated is that it used to be web, catalog, and phone. Now, it’s addressable TV, Pinterest, Snapchat, Facebook, Twitter, SMS, and push. The channel fragmentation has exploded rapidly. The form factor might change. The device might change. The consumer hasn’t. It’s about relevance, something that matters, when they want it, and where they want it. It’s the discipline of data-driven marketing.”

Akeroyd said the fundamental differences haven’t changed.

“Technologies are sophisticated, and channels are sophisticated,” he said. “The concept of one view of the customer has gotten more complicated. People are treating devices and channels with whole different disciplines. The fundamental disciplines and how you execute them out to digital touch points, doing the basics right, is the biggest challenge around new technologies.”

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