On the Pulse: Cision Canada and the Power of the Social Product

samanthamehra    November 7, 2017

Media. Monitoring. No one understands the utility of social media in the development of products better than than those in the thick of the media monitoring industry, the champions of multiple products which, like digital butterfly nets, capture curated data from the far corners of the online world, with the aims to organize, analyze, and report on that data in an impactful way. In effect, social media research in this industry IS the product. In Canada, a competitive set of top industry players, such as Cision Canada, have made the monitoring, organizing, and analysis of traditional and social data their full-time business by developing digital media monitoring/analysis platforms and bringing them to market. And, given the nearly daily shifts in digital technologies and modes of communication, pushing out new user-friendly, contemporary communications products for clients (mostly those in PR, marketing, advertising, and communications across an expansive list of industries), and meeting the demands of the market in a timely and effective way,  are vital in staying relevant to the needs of the communications and PR professionals who’s primary need is to keep their fingers on the pulse.

Media Monitoring?

As late as the mid-20th Century, the Western media monitoring process involved painstakingly flipping through daily newspapers and magazines, physically cutting out relevant articles, and assembling them all together in a hard-copy clip book or package. As the online world (and social media channels) grew, media monitoring products were developed to grab onto and make sense of new channels of data. Gathering such data, especially in the noisy, yet vast spaces of Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, blogs, WordPress sites, or forums (the list goes on) is of tremendous value for a business’ future planning, and overall understanding of their brand’s impact in the overall industry. And so, Cision Canada’s products are of unsurpassable value for professionals who want to understand their brand in the grand scheme of the market, and make future plans for future campaigning or messaging in the digital sphere. In a nutshell: PR and communications professionals are interested in tracking mentions of their brand (both positive and negative), monitoring the reach of their press releases (pick-up), keeping their fingers on the pulse of industry-related news, creating relationships with industry influencers, and understanding the trends brewing in the lives of their customers. Cision Canada’s Cloud, the latest monitoring product it has brought to market, has made all of these tasks available in an online one-stop shop.

Cision: Sussing out Social in Product Development

At Cision, one of the basic, important aspects of meeting the needs of the market and remaining relevant to communications professionals is the development of products, as often as possible. According James Rubec, Product Manager at Cision Canada, the overarching goal is “to make the lives of communicators easier, and make it possible for them to  evaluate whether their work is having an effect” (Interview, November 6). “The challenge isn’t just in building tools that can track media outcomes and sort incoming content but in anticipating how PR professionals will use the tools on a day-to-day basis” (Ibid.). With these two overarching goals in mind, Cision moved forward to consolidate the entire communications workflow into its Cloud product, with three specific functions: to identify influence/influencers; to craft campaigns; and to attribute value to these campaigns, especially in the digital sphere. In an interview via email this month, Rubec gave some insight into Cision’s Cloud, and the impetus behind developing a product of value and relevance in the communications market, which requires a deep understanding and a continuous data-mining of social media (and monitoring of industry trends) on the part of the product developers:

  • Developing a product which identifies influencers: “When we say ‘identify influence’, what that defines is finding leverage points within a conversation which can be specific journalists, social media influencers, topics and even media outlets that can sway entire conversations or audiences. Cision data-mines how people discuss topics online and in social media to evaluate who has this influence and we provide a database for people to sift through these influencers and even provide their contact information.”
  • Developing a product which helps communicators reach the widest possible audience for a targeted digital campaign: “Under Craft Campaigns, what we provide are systems for communicating with these influencers either through measurable email distributions, social posts or through paid news release distribution. Press releases are an incredible tool to communicate directly to the media and to the public and we provide systems to evaluate their success and reach targeted valuable audience subgroups.
  • Developing a product where measuring, analysis, and reporting make the “making sense of data” easy: “Once you’ve started your campaign and found influencers of value you can then measure a campaign’s success with Cision attribution tools, starting with media monitoring but resulting in an evaluation of campaign ROI. These actions in sequence drive our value and when we streamline that process through automation we’re providing greater value.”

Lessons for Others

Cision has continued to develop and produce efficient, meaningful online tools by understanding the needs of its customers and working to meet those needs through a well-timed development of digital platforms. By identifying needs of clients, absences in the marketplace, and using social media as not only the product but as part of the product research, Cision’s Cloud platform is able to serve multiple functions for communications and PR professionals in Canada. In developing this one-stop shop for professionals, Rubec weighed in on some important considerations when developing a product in this digital arm of communications and PR:

  • Acknowledge your feedback: “Expected behaviour is never actual behaviour. What’s key with the development of any product is in-taking and deploying insights from feedback.”
  • Make customer/client feedback available, and welcome. It’s important data for your future product development: “The more channels you have and varying methods for collecting feedback from customers is what will drive a successful client experience and a usable product. We use feedback from our services teams, sales organization and a content community we call “Cision City” to drive this feedback back into our development cycles and into product improvement.
  • Be responsive:  “All of these questions and more are asked, and our tools, or service teams, need to be able to respond.”

Organization: Cision Canada
Industry: Communications
Name of Organization Contact: James Rubec, Product Manager

Authored by: Samantha Donaldson

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site, please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Program Director, Social Media for Business Performance.


PR Newswire. “Cision Launches New Cision Communications Cloud for the Next Era of Media and Communications.” (2016, October 24). Retrieved October 29, 2017 from Multivu.com. https://www.multivu.com/players/English/7931751-cision-communication-cloud/

—-. (2017, 18 October). “Cision: A Marketing And PR SaaS Company At The Forefront Of The Secular Shift To Earned Media And Big Data Analytics, Trading At A Large Discount To Peers.” Retrieved October 29, 2017 from SeekingAlpha.com, https://seekingalpha.com/article/4114374-cision-marketing-pr-saas-company-forefront-secular-shift-earned-media-big-data-analytics

—-. “Cision’s Cloud Release Leading the Shift to Data-Driven Communications.” (26 April, 2017). Retrieved October 29, 2017, from Equities.com.

Interview, James Rubec. Toronto, Ontario. 2 November, 2017.

Email Interview. James Rubec. 6 November 2017.