Cision to lay off more than 100 UK staff amid fall in media monitoring revenue

PR services giant Cision plans to lay off more than a hundred staff in the UK following a drop in revenue and profit in its media monitoring business.

The firm is looking to move the bulk of its media monitoring services to India and reduce the workforce on those operations from 150 to just 21.

A document dated 15 May 2018, seen by PRWeek, outlines plans to transfer the majority of its monitoring business from Gorkana (owned by Cision since 2014) to the Indian arm of Prime Research, the media measurement and analysis platform it bought late last year.

The document has been sent to employees of Cision - the US-headquartered global provider of earned media management software and services to the PR and marcoms sector - whose roles are likely to be transferred to Prime India and then made redundant.

It says the planned transfer of roles, expected to take place in four phases between July 2018 and January 2019, will see the current daytime workforce reduce from 76 to 15 employees. The nightshift team will shrink from 74 to six.

Roles at risk of redundancy include production managers, section editors, new media readers and data entry positions. International monitoring, scanning and clipping roles will be among those not affected.

The work Cision is proposing to move to Prime India covers reading, summarising, sorting and headline/journalist-editing tasks across both day and nightshifts.

"This business is proposing to transfer these activities, as we believe that it is not sustainable to invest in the headcount and resources to carry out these activities in the UK given the aggressive competitor pressures and continued decline in monitoring revenue," the document says. Potential savings from the changes could represent millions of pounds over three to five years, it adds.

Revenue from Cision’s monitoring business has "continued to decline over the last few years", by circa 11 per cent year on year, according to the document, dated May 2018. Monitoring costs have risen by around one per cent year on year, leading to a decline in gross profit margin for the division of "over six per cent".

The document states: "In addition, we have seen a significant shrinkage in our core customer base. We expect monitoring to further decline this year. We need to respond to all of the above and to future proof the business against further declines in this area."

Recent financial results for the group as a whole have been more positive. The New York Stock Exchange-listed firm reported organic revenue growth of 2.5 per cent in the second quarter of 2018, excluding the ‘non-core’ revenue and the impact of currency changes.

Overall, revenue in Q2 rose 19.3 per cent, to $187.5m, against the same period in 2017 – that growth figure includes the impact of the Prime acquisition. Adjusted underlying earnings (EBITDA) grew 13.1 per cent to $66.2m in the quarter.

In a statement to PRWeek, the company said: "At Cision, we’re continually evaluating our operational structures and implementing needed changes to enhance continued growth that best serves our customers. We’re committed to providing our customers with best-in-class products and support.

"We are constantly reviewing which of our wholly owned Cision teams around the world can best provide the quality our customers expect from us, whilst aligning to industry-wide pricing models. This sometimes requires the redistribution of some roles among our global teams. As you will understand, this can be a sensitive time for all concerned and is a legal process, and as such we are unable to make any further comment at this stage."

A source at Cision said such actions are an "industry trend" among media intelligence providers. "Whilst many providers have off-shored and outsourced their production, at Cision, we are utilising and building our owned production facility in India, which came as part of the recent Prime Research acquisition," the source added.

The company has over 4,000 employees, with offices in 19 countries throughout the Americas, EMEA, and APAC.

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