What you need to know about the evolution of the newswire market

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Newswire services have changed with the addition of social media, and one major acquisition has shook up the space, thanks to Cision. Recently the media analytics company announced that it is merging with PR Newswire in a deal valued at $841 million. The deal still has to go through a round of approvals, but it is expected to be finalized by the end of Q1 2016.

“The benefits of the acquisition are really the global prescience that PR Newswire has in the PR industry. It’s one of the strongest brands in the industry with both media and PR professionals,” says Cision CEO Peter Granat in an interview. “It has one of the largest multimedia, proprietary distribution networks distributing press releases as well as other types of content, and the scale and size of the customer base and employees is a great fit with the Cision strategy.”

Newswire services have always been the primary method in which companies disclose information to the public about their activities, and they are also the go-to place for reporters looking for breaking news. Social media networks, most notably Twitter, have changed the game. They can function as a sort of real-time news feed for everyone. PR professionals are learning how to integrate social media into their normal workflow because it’s an essential part of what they do now.

The Cision/PR Newswire merger will combine one of the biggest PR distribution networks in the world with various media analytics tools. These new tools will empower PR professionals to reach a broader audience with more effective campaigns.

PR Newswire isn’t the first acquisition that Cision has made over recent years to blaze a trail into this space. In 2014, it also bought Visible Technologies for $79.5 million, and in 2015 bought Viralheat for $4.33 million.

Granat offered us some clues as to what we can expect to see once the PR Newswire merger is complete.

“We’re building now a comprehensive suite of tools that are integrated around helping brands tell their story using both media content and traditional PR tools, but also paid and sponsored content as well,” says Granat. “The Cision strategy is really bringing those pieces together through an integrated cloud platform suite, as opposed to using different point solutions in the wire space, or content marketing space, or social media space.”

The advent of social media feeds created the 24-hour news cycle. A story can break at any time, so reporters and PR pros have to be on their toes all the time. The game has changed, but they are really just doing the same thing in a different space and it’s happening at a much faster pace.

Julia Jahansoozi, associate professor of communications and culture at Royal Roads University, was willing to share her insights on what the future looks like for newswires and the PR space.

“Some people look at social media as being a new thing, but really it’s just about communication and content, and content management, and the marketing of that content,” she says. “The part that newswires weren’t so involved with is analytics. It should be very important for a PR practitioner to put together campaigns that include social media.”

Going Big Data

Analytics is exactly what Cision brings to the table once they’ve merged with PR Newswire. The advantage of social is that you can reach a much broader audience, and reach them much faster than you could with just a newswire.

“Analytics is very important in the public relations field to show value for their money. What’s the impact? What’s the outreach? All those things need to be measured,” Jahansoozi explains.

Moving forward, social media is only going to become more and more integrated in the PR workflow. Newswire services will continue to be useful and relevant, but we can expect to see more multimedia content, and more people will be getting that content on mobile devices instead of desktops.

Granat gave us a glimpse of what this future is going to look like for Cision. “Social is a core part of that strategy for us, and how to integrate it into a suite of tools to share that content, to monitor that content, and to run analytics on it, is part of the offering going forward,” he said.

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Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell

Chris Riddell is a freelance journalist, copywriter and poet from Mississauga who now lives in Montreal. His byline has appeared in many newspapers and websites such as The National Post, The Globe and Mail, The Montreal Gazette, and Torontoist. He's an expert profiler and has interviewed many notable personalities such as KISSmetrics founder Neil Patel, Ontario Minister of the Environment and Climate Change Glen Murray, and Hollywood actor Michael Rooker. If you want to find out more about him, visit his website and follow him on Twitter @riddellwriter.