Cision, Edelman begin exclusive partnership

The world's largest PR firm is looking for a competitive edge in communications technology with the deal.

Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd
Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd

NEW YORK: Cision and Edelman have agreed to a partnership that will give the agency access to data that’s never been released to the public, including more than 5,000 demographic and firmographic attributes. 

Edelman’s newly launched Performance Communications team will have access via the partnership to Cision ID data, which is beyond what Cision offers to the general market. Cision ID is the underlying product that powers Cision Impact. Edelman Performance Communications is led by EVP Megan Tweed, who previously ran performance media at Razorfish.

Edelman can use the data to paint a more comprehensive picture of the performance and profile of an earned media audience; to build products on top of Cision ID; or to mix and match Cision ID with its own assets to offer a white-label version for clients. 

Dustin Johnson, head of transformation and innovation at Edelman, said one of the most important features of the partnership is that the agency will have the exclusive ability to activate audience IDs and feed them into an attribution model. That will make it easier to connect web analytics, sales and engagement data on the "owned side." The deal will also enable Edelman to use those IDs for retargeting and connecting to first-party data for loyalty metrics.

"The mega-point here is the ability to connect these earned audiences back to sales, marketing and commerce in ways that marketers have done for years," Johnson added.

Cision CEO Kevin Akeroyd said the partnership will evangelize new technologies among PR professionals.

One problem faced by all communications technology companies is that innovation outpaces the market’s proficiency, which creates a steep learning curve. With this dynamic, agencies act as service providers for clients, training themselves on new technologies so they can provide services that clients "aren’t equipped to do yet," Akeroyd said. 

"The mission is to get the comms customers completely fluent, adept and reaping all the value that technology can bring," he explained. 

For Edelman, the partnership will enhance earned-channel planning and advance advocacy and sales growth-attribution services, according to a statement from the two companies. The firm will also introduce what it calls a "first-of-its-kind integration of earned audiences with performance and account-based marketing."

The partnership will also make Edelman the first agency to cross-reference earned audiences with Cision’s influencer database, which includes more than 925 million profiles, according to the statement. 

Edelman Performance Communication has more than 150 analysts, data specialists and integrators, according to the joint statement. Its services will include data strategy, discovery, first- and third-party data rationalization and rich business intelligence.

The Cision-Edelman partnership is another step toward validating earned media as a discipline with "real business attribution" and not just being a "cost center," Akeroyd said. It could also offer another vehicle for Cision to scale, allowing Edelman to offer customer-service products that Cision would not pursue, Akeroyd added.

This story was updated on August 7 with quotes from Johnson and additional information. 

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