Cision plans leadership transition

The company’s interim leader talks CEO search and streamlining processes.

Cision interim CEO Brandon Crawley
Cision interim CEO Brandon Crawley

NEW YORK: Cision is planning to find a permanent replacement for former CEO Kevin Akeroyd by midsummer, said interim CEO Brandon Crawley. 

Cision announced other leadership appointments at a town hall meeting last week, he said. 

It expanded the role of Nicole Guillot, who, in addition to serving as chief content officer and president of Canada and Latin America, will oversee EMEA, Cision’s second-largest market. Previous EMEA leader Peter Low is no longer with the company, a spokesperson confirmed. Low joined Cision last February.

Chief technology officer Chris Copeland is now reporting directly to Crawley. Cision also lured Nikki Grigsby back, hiring her to lead U.S. customer service and customer success. 

Susan Steele, global chief human resources officer, has left the company. She was named to the position in April 2019. Bob Luse, former HR chief of Sears Holdings, Accretive Health and Nuveen Investments, is serving as interim chief human resources officer at Cision. 

The changes are taking place after Platinum Equity Partners finalized its $2.7 billion acquisition of the PR technology giant and parted ways with Akeroyd, who said he resigned for personal reasons after less than three years in the role. President Erik Huddleston has also left the company

Cision is planning to launch a “global software package” in the coming months as it migrates customers toward one platform, Crawley said. He explained that the company will execute its ambition of creating a unified platform that can service all of a PR pro’s needs and invest in its core capabilities, such as distribution, social listening and two of Akeroyd’s primary initiatives: Cision ID and Cision Impact. 

“You will see us continue to invest in things that have the ability to quantify and measure impact of earned media through Cision ID and Cision Impact,” he says. “We’re doing some pilot testing to make sure we’re meeting the mark with our customers...As soon as we’re comfortable we’re hitting the right mark, we’ll launch.”

As for future acquisitions, Crawley noted, “We’re an M&A firm.” However, the company doesn’t have a deal “pending” at this time.

He also said the company’s partnership with Edelman “remains healthy.” Cision teamed up with the world’s largest PR agency last summer, providing it with exclusive access to Cision ID data so it could experiment with the technology.

“I believe we will continue that strategic partnership and grow that business,” Crawley said.

After spending the better half of the last decade buying competitors, Crawley said that Cision will start to simplify itself, starting with its own internal operations. There will be no layoffs as the company does so, he said.

“Cision has grown through many acquisitions and quite frankly has a complex set of internal systems and processes,” he said. “Some of our key goals are to streamline these systems to enable our customers to do business with us in a more simplistic manner.”

A big problem: each business that Cision acquired had its own processes, tools and selling tactics. However, by using a common approach, Cision can talk to customers the same way, enable greater cross-selling and speed up the time from when customers contact the company to the time they sign a contract and get on-boarded to their platform.

“What we’re going to do is come up with one Cision approach,” he explained.

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