WEDNESDAY 16 DEC 2015 2:51 PM


Jeremy Thompson, managing director for EMEA of major global media services firm Cision, which yesterday announced its purchase of PR Newswire from UBM plc, says the acquisition was, “The final, missing piece” in Cision’s recent expansion.

The company also owns Gorkana and merged with Vocus last year. Following that, Cision was made to sell its UK operations to AIMediaComms (now Vuelio) due to anti-trust issues cited by the Competition and Markets Authority.

This most recent move will draw the industry together even more as Cision now takes on PR Newswire’s services, including press release distribution.

Thompson says, “We recognize that PR professionals are being held to a higher standard, challenged to track and attribute PR and social performance. This acquisition is a direct response to the industry’s need for a more comprehensive integrated communications platform. We are building a leading suite of tools where clients can manage their entire PR, social media, marketing and communications workflow. By combining resources, Cision and PR Newswire will provide clients with the industry’s best technology and service, deepest relationships with media and influencers, analytics and insights around communication outcomes and breakthrough research on trends and best practices.”

But the move may have an impact on the rest of the industry as competition increases among a shortening list of names. Kantar Media, which bought Precise last June, offers a number of similar services. Other smaller players operate on a regional basis. If Cision can appeal to PR companies as a one-stop-shop for PR services, they may have an advantage over other organisations.

Thompson says the size of the combined organisations will amount to a stronger product offering and will result in more funds available for investment in research and development. “For example,” he says, “Multimedia content distribution is a key part of the Cision strategy, and this acquisition helps accelerate building out a global suite of tools for communications, content marketing and social media.”

Barry Leggetter, CEO of AMEC, the trade association of which Cision and most other media services organisations are members, declined to comment about the implications for any of the companies involved. Yet, he said he was impressed that private equity firms – one of which, GTCR, owns Cision – placed such a high value on PR services companies.

Peter Granat, CEO of Cision said in a press release, “This move is the latest example of Cision’s steadfast commitment to investing in this space to deliver innovative products and services to communications, social and content marketing professionals. Cision shares PR Newswire’s vision for empowering communications professionals’ complete workflow by providing the leading content marketing, PR and social tools, and we look forward to sharing more of this vision in the near future.”

The acquisition of PR Newswire likely marks the culmination of Cision’s major M&A deals, for the time being. Thompson says that further expansion of the business will be focused on geography, not product offering.

The PR and communications services industry dates back to the mid-19th century when Romeike & Curtis (now owned by Cision) began providing actors and those in theatre with reviews of their work from across Europe. When radio became popular, media monitoring agencies incorporated broadcast into their suite of services. The same occurred with internet services. Yet, what has marked the industry in recent years is a series of acquisitions, sales and mergers that has drawn a number of companies into only a few major players.

Integrating the two organisations will require a final vote by UBM shareholders early in 2016 and the merging of two workforces. While redundancies may be likely, Cision says it is committed to ensuring its customers are not disrupted in any way throughout the transition period. UBM sold PR Newswire for £551m, £254m of which will be returned to shareholders.