Cision Tutorial, Tactics, and Tips

With SEO professionals putting greater emphasis on links, PR has become a critical component in attaining top ranks. Whether you’re using PR for link building or working to leverage your professor as a thought leader in their industry, establishing a relationship with the media is a crucial tactic to any higher education marketing strategy. Oftentimes maintaining this relationship can be the easier step, while reaching out for the initial contact can pose the biggest challenges to marketers. We recommend using Cision to help with media outreach and building relationships with reporters, publications and editors.

What is Cision?

Cision is one of the leading tools PR and marketing professionals utilize when it comes to media outreach. By generating a catered list of reporters, journalists and editors, Cision allows organizations to directly reach out to professionals within specific research focuses. By keeping in mind a couple best practices and tips, marketing and PR professionals can improve both their response rates and general outreach skills.

What is a Cision Media List?

A media list is a list of the media contacts who would be interested in stories about your client, expert pitch or press release. These media contacts may include reporters, editors, bloggers, producers, freelance writers on both online and offline platforms. Cision enables the user to create media lists that include everything from national online and broadcast publications down to niche specific blogs.

How to Use Cision

#1 Analyze Your Pitch

To start off, breaking down and analyzing your content is key to creating a good, targeted media list. Not only does the pitch have to provide newsworthy information, but the audience needs to be taken into consideration as well. The best approach to creating a pitch begins with the lede. The best pitches are able to present a current story and seamlessly tie in their product or expert. By creating a clear connection for your readers, you give your readers a reason to be interested with your pitch. As you create your pitch, keep in mind the current news cycle, especially when working around trending and time sensitive topics.

#2 Research Media Contacts

Once your pitch has been crafted, the next step is to research potential media outlets for those that best fit the client and pitch. By targeting applicable publications within an industry, marketing professionals can better understand the media and later determine how relevant their pitch is for that specific outlet. This is crucial when creating an effectively targeted list; if the list of contacts becomes too robust or unfocused, then the pitch can lose its relevance and newsworthiness, leading to a low response rate. Understanding the media cycle here is also an important component. You need to understand what your audience is currently writing about, and if the reporters are genuinely going to be interested in what you are sending them. The last thing you want is for them to unsubscribe. Thankfully, Cision offers a number of filters that will enable you to put your prior research to good use when it comes to building the list.

#3 Create a Media List

To create a media list in Cision, you first begin with a search. The search tool allows users to filter through various subject matters, publication type, editors, bloggers and reporters at different outlets across the globe, all based on the criteria that you specifically want to search for. There are a wide range of filters here and it is certainly worth working out the filters that work best for you.

You can also use these filters during your list creation to help narrow down your search. This will allow you to become even more focused, and we find this to be particularly helpful when your original search brings back a high number of results, like below.

Your final list should look something like the one below. As you can see, on the left hand you can access all of the lists you have created easily. One thing that may also help is adding contacts from your existing lists to new lists (only when relevant).

#4 Schedule Out Pitches

Following the creation of the media list and the finalization of the pitch, the distribution is ready to be sent out. Cision also allows users to schedule their outreaches, giving them the chance to reach their audiences during peak, optimal times. Being able to add personalization to the email, such as ensuring the reporter’s first name is included, will ultimately increase your response rate while also ensuring that you remain efficient. Your pitch responses will also be sent directly to your email, meaning the communication with reporter’s is easy and accessible to you any place, any time.

Outreach can be a much more effective, efficient and less daunting process with tools like Cision. Cision isn’t cheap, but the investment is well worth it for SEOs and PR professionals looking to take their efforts to the next level.

#5 Analyze Your Results

The latest edition of Cision also provides analytics of each distribution that you send out. Simply go into ‘My Activities’ and click on the outreach that you would like to analyze. Here you can see the overall open rate as well as the specific individuals who opened your email and clicked on any links you included. This feature can be greatly beneficial when looking at who you may want to follow up with and who you should send future pitches to.

In addition, when these distributions begin turning into media placements, Cision will monitor your results and inform you when an article or Press Release goes live. Other information provided also includes: Unique Viewers Per Month and Publicity Value.

Earning media placements today in a very congested marketplace can be a difficult and an often thankless task. However, if you combine your pitching and list building efforts successfully, then there is every chance you will obtain the PR you are looking for. Cision 100% helps with our day to day tasks and has played a significant role in enabling us to get our clients the media coverage they are looking for.

Lindsey Baumann
Lindsey Baumann is a senior media relations specialist at Circa Interactive. She facilitates media placements for faculty members at various universities to increase their thought leadership and expose their research to new audiences. Her efforts have landed her clients in top-tier media outlets such as The Washington Post, Forbes, The Hill, and The Associated Press. She graduated from Virginia Tech with honors in communication.

Don't know where to start? Find out how our team of experts can help.

Your faculty members are doing research that’s worth talking about, and our digital PR team ensures the world’s best media outlets are bringing attention to their findings. We help your faculty secure media placements in top-tier publications, with links back to your programs that help increase your SEO rankings.

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