7 questions for new Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd

Is the company done with its acquisition spree? Not quite, said the newly minted CEO.

What does this leadership change mean for Cision? And why is it happening now?
You look at what has happened in the company for the last several years with a lot of smart, good acquisitions to create a combined entity that is the leading media intelligence and communications company in the world. We have an opportunity to take it to a whole other level, from an innovation, customer success, solution, and growth standpoint. As for why now, we are taking advantage of that massive opportunity and helping the company realize that and deliver it.

Do you plan to stay on the same course as former CEO Peter Granat?
[Granat] has done an unbelievable job. He has this company poised to lead the shifting market in the overall comms industry and not just keep up with it. That is what Cision has stood for, what he stood for. I don’t think [my hire] marks a dramatic change or shift in direction. A better way to look at it is acceleration, faster scale, and doing my part to achieve the vision that Cision and he set out.

What are your objectives as Cision’s new CEO?
Our job is to provide the tools, services, data, analytics, and the overall platform to help our PR, IR, social media, and marketing customers effectively navigate, manage, and do well with this ever-changing communications and media landscape, and do it fast. That is who and what we think we are in the industry. That is what my focus is going to be. We help customers with that combined solutions set, which will make them more successful.

What challenges does the company need to overcome?
What we have put together with Vocus, Cision, PR Newswire, Viralheat, Visible Technologies, and Gorkana Group – all of these are strong solutions for customers in their own right. We have the opportunity to turn this into a more integrated, seamless, connected holistic solution for customers. We believe we have a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts.

Having spent so much time on the paid and owned side, especially over the last five years, [the industry] has gone through this digital, data-driven renaissance. I believe earned has lagged a little bit and it shouldn’t. We have to get earned back up there where it belongs because it is so impactful, but it seems to have taken a bit of a back seat, especially to paid.

We have an opportunity to scale this [company], so we are in more countries, customers, and solutions.

You joined Cision from Oracle Marketing Cloud, a very different business. What skills from are you taking into your new role?
If you look at what we did at Oracle Marketing Cloud, it is very paid-, owned-, and ecommerce-focused. We did very similar things [to Cision]. We made nine acquisitions over a period of three and a half years and combined them into one company with a single mission and an integrated platform. The combined entity was much more valuable to our customers than the individual pieces.

[Oracle] also expanded globally. We ended up with [staffers] in over 29 countries, and customers in over 100 countries. While we already are global here at Cision, we have the opportunity to get more global a lot faster, both with our footprint with employees and the markets that we serve. My experience [at Oracle] will help me do the same things [at Cision] for IR, PR, social media, and marketing comms business leaders.

Should we expect more acquisitions?
M&A has been a key part of the strategy to make sure we have the most comprehensive platform in the industry bar none to help clients manage this entire lifecycle right from integrated comms to influencer discovery to content distribution to engagement to campaign analytics. Do I think we are finished? No. I think there are important pieces that need to be put on top of this comprehensive platform so it truly can be that reference communications stack. Acquisitions will be considered along with partners and viable alternatives to get us [to where we want to be] faster, on behalf of our customers.

How do the changes at Cision align with the future of the PR industry?
Extremely busy professionals need to do more with less, and right now they are working with a whole bunch of individual point solutions. They may be using seven different tools, applications, and service solution providers. We want to help them facilitate their ability to be more digital, more real-time, and work with more distribution channels and media outlets with one encompassing solution from one provider.

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