Towards the end of October, Cision launched Cision Communication Cloud.

Around that time, I spoke with Cision’s CEO, Kevin Akeroyd, formerly GM for Oracle Marketing Cloud, about the reasons behind the move into the platform business. His answer was fairly straightforward: PR needs to go through the same data-driven transformation that the rest of marketing has undergone. 

“Integration is the innovation,” he told me. “Using point solutions to track and measure PR efforts is just inefficient.”

Operational inefficiency aside, point solutions can be a lot easier to sell than getting people to adopt an entirely new platform. To find out how Cision was tackling the latter, I asked Kevin the following questions:

How do you convince people to adopt a platform?

Having been through this for 17 years now, I know this is one of the most important questions to ask and to solve for. If we have the world’s best platform, but the customers and partners don’t adopt – or do adopt, but don’t do it properly – the initiative will fail.

I like to start at the end: What are the actual business objectives and what are the KPIs that buyers need to measure/deliver against those business objectives?

One step back, who (which functions, roles, people) needs to utilize the platform (some power users, some casual users, some read-only, some just reporting, etc), and HOW do they need to utilize?

Another step back, figure out the education and training and change management required.

One more step back, what are the configurations, use cases, deployment specifics?

Another step back, what actual training, best practices, and ongoing coaching programs will you need for usage?

One step back from that is the actual provisioning and implementation. One step back from that is the contract. Before that you have  the negotiation.

And before all of that, you have the adoption thesis and the overall conversation about what/why the buyer should adopt in the first place.

If you’ve thought it all the way through, it gives you the confidence and know-how to drive adoption. As a result, you typically see adoption happening more frequently, earlier, and with far more success.

What needs to happen for a platform to be successful?

As mentioned above, the entire process has to be thought through, mapped out, managed (at the process and the project level), and “owned” every step of the way. Also, it’s usually pretty key that Executive Sponsorship is involved as a driver.

Are there plans to cultivate/encourage an ecosystem? Or is Cision going this alone?

When we were at Oracle Marketing Cloud, I built the largest ecosystem of application, media, and data partners in the marketing and ad tech industry for paid and owned media applications. We were the “planet” or the reference stack, and hundreds of tightly integrated “moons” orbited around us.

The exact same scenario is underway here at Cision. We are the reference stack/platform for the CCO and CMO when it comes to PR, comms, and earned media. And yes, we’ll be building and supporting a large ecosystem of data, application, media, and service partners. There’s too much value for us, our customers, and the partners, not to.  

What has been the response so far?

Overwhelmingly positive. We’ve already had over 600 clients adopt the new platform in just a couple months. Those clients range from some of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world all the way down to SMBs.

Customers have been waiting for this for a long time, and they’re excited to adopt it now that we’ve finally delivered it.

Image Source (Creative Commons): frankieleon.

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