Meltwater Gate Crashes Cision buyout while GTCR Buys Vocus

meltwater tweet

The tweet heard round the world, the PR/Marketing SaaS world anyway, was tweeted on April 3 from Meltwater CEO, Jorn Lyseggen. “Throwing our hat in the ring today… Together we will transform the industry!” @meltwater http://in.mobile.reuters.com/article/idINL5N0MV1YY20140403?irpc=932 …

This is big news for the SaaS PR/Marketing biz because it further consolidates a shrinking industry. Cision shares have shrunk reportedly nearly 40% in 2013.  Cision ended up selling off its press clipping division to BurrellesLuce leaving it with only it’s PR cloud based PR / Marketing SaaS  products. That may be a reason. It may also be the business climate in the PR industry is changing with clients realizing these companies that have scrambled to be all things to all companies is not what it’s cracked up to be and more to the point… doesn’t pay.samantha

GTCR obviously thinks the SaaS future is bright regardless of the declining earnings performance of the industries biggest players. Vocus is having much of the same shrinkage issues with their stock yet it was just reported after paying millions for I Contact, HARO (help a reporter out ), North Social, and PRWeb, Vocus is being taken private by GTCR for about $446.5 million.

Meltwater and Vocus are well known for their aggressive sales organizations. Meltwater reportedly pays their sales people 40% commission on the first year’s income on a multi year non-cancelable contract. Their rates for services aren’t published because the salesperson determines what the client will pay.

Why would Meltwater want Cision? I suspect so the marketplace has less choice.  Meltwater is infamous for its aggressive sales tactics that leave customers vowing to not renew their contracts.

samstreamMarketwired paid millions for Sysomos in an attempt to expand its product offerings to be more on par with Cision, Meltwater and Vocus. The race to be more than a PR database and distribution service has taken a real toll on the industry. PR Spam has become a favorite topic for reporters tired of being spammed with requests to write stories that are totally unrelated to their beats.

SaaS buzz has been very effective taking business from traditional media monitoring companies like BurrellesLuce, Cision, Allen’s Press clipping Bureau and URMediaNow.  Many in the PR community drank the SaaS koolaide and it nearly killed the traditional media monitoring industry.

Ultimately this has become good news for the “real” media monitoring companies like BurrellesLuce, Allen’s and URMediaNOw that have survived the SaaS attempts at dumbing down the PR/ Marketing industry. screen1The PR community has figured out SaaS is not all it was cracked up to be.

If your company needs a media monitoring service it pays to hire a company with editors that actually read, monitor and verify the validity of every media hit. SaaS Glorified Google News alerts are NOT Media Monitoring and the industry is relearning that fact.

Vocus opened offices in Philippines two years ago to augment their small business sales efforts and PR data base research staff only to eliminate approximately 200 positions two years after opening. They learned the hard way trying to be everything for everyone is not  the best business model. They still have a lease of two floors in one of the newest high rise buildings in Makati, Philippines that now sits mostly empty.

GTCR just increased their offer to $61 per share for Cision.  GTCR and Meltwater must have some pretty strong evidence merging is the best bet for the future. Will it be Cision / Vocus merger or Meltwater / Cision merger? Is it a question of who owns the best PR data base and Press Release distribution service or the best high pressure sales force? One thing that is clear is this: The SaaS cloud based PR/Marketing Koolaide hasn’t fully fermented quite yet.


Meltwater enters Bidding War for Cision

February 14th 2014 was a big news day for the media monitoring industry when Cision announced it had accepted an initial offeA Spanner Wrench stuck between cog gear wheels.r to be acquired by Blue Canyon Holdings, a subsidiary of GTCR Investment X AIV Ltd. The offer was for a 52 SEK ( Swedish Crowns ) per share or approximately $132 million dollars. This development was a big surprise to an already shrinking media monitoring industry because it meant a further consolidation of the “automated monitoring / marketing business. However……

It was not going to be a smooth transfer if Meltwater holdings had any thing to say about it…and…. it so happens they do have a basis to slow the sale.

According to a report on Dagens Industri March 19th, “Meltwater actually owns 10.1 % of Cision. More than 10 percent of the shares are sufficient for Meltwater to stop a compulsory acquisition of the shares.

This meansModern-Times-8 that Meltwater can put a spoke in the wheel of GTCR Investment, as through the company Blue Canyon has made ​​an offer for Cision and increased their bid Thursday morning from 52 to 55:10 SEK per share.

DI.SE also reported “Meltwater can have significantly more long -term plans than that.”

GTCR Investment writes namely in its last press release that they received notice from Cision if any other commandment , which may mean that Meltwater has been in contact with Cision or there is another third party that’s looking at the company.”images

At the very least they can increase the value of their stock holdings in Cision just by muddying up the works of this sale.

The bigger question which I will explore later is what do the latest round of media monitoring acquisitions mean to the PR / Marketing industries?


Why doesn’t Hummingbird have the Media Monitoring Industry humming?

IMG_3703.JPG__36_documents__36_total_pages_-600x449For the first time in 12 years, Google has completely rewritten its search algorithm. Panda and Penguin were updates to the existing algorithm but Hummingbird is a complete replacement designed to deliver results from questions and not just keywords. The name of the game now is…”conversational search”.

It’s big news for any businesses with an internet presence and even bigger news for the numerous SaaS (Software as a Service) companies that in recent years have entered the media monitoring arena.

Why? Because all the new kids on the block, “SaaS” services rely on automated key word search and have no staff actually reading newspapers or verifying the validity of each media hit.

Hummingbird was built to understand longtail searches, meaning, searches in the form of questions, the way we talk and converse with each other.

This is the future!
hummingbird

So…. what does this mean for Monitoring companies that just enter key word searches into a search engine? Hummingbird has changed the way search works. Hummingbird is “conversational search”. It means the keyword search clients are counting on for their news is now obsolete and “behind the times”.

In the same way SaaS changed the monitoring industry and nearly killed traditional news clipping services with automated search; Hummingbird has quite possibly saved the day for media monitoring companies that still have a staff of editors actually reading and analyzing the news. The days of keyword search alone are over.


The Dumbing Down of the Media Monitoring Industry

social-media-news-icon1Time flies by so fast and the evolution of media is a perfect example of how quickly things change … Yet… Stay the same….when Frank Burelle and Robert Luce started the first clipping services in 1888. They couldn’t have foretold the evolution of media to the 24 hour cable news cycle, explosion of citizen journalism, corporate blogs and endless social network channels.

In recent years it seems as many media monitoring companies have popped up as there are tweets in the Twittersphere. In the last 40 years over 100 media monitoring services have entered the industry. Just in the past 5 years over 30 social media monitoring companies have entered the scene and some of the more notable “SAAS .coms” have been purchased for millions by multi national monitoring companies.

SAAS (software as a service) is the latest buzz word for the modern office setting suggesting savings through technology. The problem is…. SAAS has only served to “dumb down” the media monitoring industry. A glorified media search engine alert doesn’t compare to the human brain. That’s why our largest national competitor boasts “human verified” media monitoring as its’ “premium” service.

Today most of these companies provide their monitoring services through (SAAS) and search algorithms…… What separates us from them is the human factor. In fact, there are only a handful of press monitoring companies that still use human editors.sm

Many do it yourself “DIY” media monitoring services have come on the scene with the explosion of Social Networks. The big drawback however is the DIY portion of the service; the user must do most of the work. A fancy platform with nice charts and reports only report as well as the quality of the data. A search algorithm can’t read in between the lines. Key word search is the dumbed down version of monitoring.

One PR marketing software company grew exponentially by offering several services after going Public in 2005, They bought a Journalist Database, a Customer Relations Platform (CRM) and a FaceBook customizing company to offer a wide array of services to become a “must have tool” in corporate PR/ Marketing tool boxes. They have become very successful and are now a global company. Seeing that success a International Wire service got into the business reselling a very similar media search service. otherguysIn fact many companies, including our company use the same web crawler search service.

Does SAAS replace the job once done by people? Maybe.. It is easier there is no doubt about that. It even saves time; but is it better? Is it smarter? Does it save money? We don’t think so.

The bottom line is…. The other guys don’t really monitor anything!

The difference between us and the host of SAAS firms out there is the web crawler search used and resold as monitoring by the other guys is just one of five methods we use to search the online media for our clients.urmlogotoday
URMediaNow uses human editors who actually READ the newspapers, search the web. validate media hits, edit broadcast segments and assign sentiment. Our competitors can’t say that! Think about it.


The Vanishing Breed or The Worst is Over or It’s Digital Stupid!

Lloyds_List1I thought we were witnessing the death of the Newspaper industry with the demise of great newspapers like the Rocky Mountain News, Kentucky Post, Baltimore Examiner and just last week, the world’s oldest Newspaper in print, Loyd’s List, announced it was going to Digital publishing only.

Amazon.com founder, Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post and a last minute deal saved the 171 year old Newark Star Ledger. The publishing world is not going to hell in a hand basket after all. The New York Times paywall model is working better than anyone expected ( full disclosure: I subscribe to the online edition only). Readers have learned they prefer to read journalism from bonafide journalists. The transition from printed page to online is happening and readers are indeed happy to pay for good content. images

In a recent article in the Post by Paul Farhi, Bezos said: ““We’ve had three big ideas at Amazon that we’ve stuck with for 18 years, and they’re the reason we’re successful: Put the customer first. Invent. And be patient,” he said. “If you replace ‘customer’ with ‘reader,’ that approach, that point of view, can be successful at The Post, too.”

I’m excited with the Bezos purchase of the Washington Post because it speaks volumes for the future of Journalism. With the polarization of news (let’s call it what it is… entertainment) content and platforms, ie; Drudge Report, etc. Journalism is indeed alive and well. The future is great journalisim to continue on your tablet and phone, not so scary after all.


Empire Avenue the next/best social influence indicator?

I started playing Empire Avenue last week after viewing an interview Robert Scobile @scobileizer posted with CEO and Co-founder of Empire Avenue Duleepa @Dups Wijayawardhana. I watched the interview which ran about 50 minutes with much interest and as the interview went on the interest became excitement. Why? Because I have long been a believer in the human component as the best way to determine influence. Empire Avenue incorporates the human component to determine your social value.

Media Gofer, Inc. monitors and analyzes all online press, network and cable broadcast and social networks to our clients’ specifications. We listen and develop relationships with consumers on their brand’s behalf. We watch the conversation and respond accordingly. Consumers want a conversation. Consumers don’t want to be marketed to… They want to be listened to and social media empowers them so brands must be answerable to them. Social influence is not tweets, likes, re-tweets etc. It’s what peers on social channels think that really matter. Our staff determine what the sentiment is on every media hit we harvest for a client. Algorithms have proven to be notoriously unreliable in terms of sentiment analysis. We believe its the human component that make our service more accurate and valuable.

My excitement is not because of an exciting new social game to play. It was because I saw a potentially more accurate influence measurement alternative to Klout or Peer Index. Klout and Peer index have been the darlings of many marketers lately as they provide a measurement of influence on social channels. They mostly measure how many followers, re-tweets, likes, etc. you have. What I like about Empire Avenue is that the values are determined not just by tweets, likes, youtube views, etc but also by real people. A human component has been added to the formula on Empire Avenue. Players of the game help determine your social influence by being willing to buy shares in your stock. That goes to the heart of what social media is all about, “people being social” and “people” making a decision not just another algorithm.

The jury is out on Empire Avenue and how influential it will be. As of this writing over 25,000 people are playing the game. If @empireave truly goes mainstream then marketers are sure to be as interested in your Empire Avenue share price as your Klout score or Peer index.


Proof Social Media Matters



You don’t have to look far to find evidence of social media influence. Tweeting, “viral video” shot with cell phones and social networking pages were used to provide evidence of governmental wrong-doing, organize peaceful protests and galvanize world opinion against a brutal dictatorship that ultimately forced the political leader of an oppressive regime to flee his country. As recent events in Tunisia have shown, opinions in cyber-space can make a powerful impact when leveraged appropriately.

But few companies have the resources to cover just the fundamentals of these latest word-of-mouth resources – dedicating staff who learn the social media space, preparing a social media plan, building a presence and monitoring communications to build on positives and address potential reputation-busting negatives.

To stay out of social media is to sacrifice countless development opportunities, but to invest so much capital into education and staff can be risky. Staff time is valuable and hiring individuals can be expensive, so what’s a business to do?

Engage Your Customers (and Future Customers)

Media Gofer is a cost-effective, professional way to manage your media presence on the Web and beyond. Media Gofer monitors and analyzes electronic communications and “media mentions” about your company’s products and services and even your company’s name. Then we tell you how your company is perceived and performing in the world of public opinion.

And we do it the way you would like it done – with people who are experts in the field. Utilizing a proven combination of trained media professionals and proprietary software – elinks – tailored to meet your unique needs. We don’t waste your time with generic search engine aggregators that dump useless links in your email in-box leaving you to sort through the mess.

As your media partner, we offer a suite of services that you tailor to suit your needs:

• Social Media Management
• Active Engagement
• Media Monitoring

Still not convinced? Consider this:

67% of consumers were primarily influenced by word of mouth
(source: Mckinsey/Thompson Lightstone).
70% of Inc. 500 marketers are planning a word of mouth marketing strategy next year
(source: eMarketer).
50% of U.S. and U.K. executives are “highly likely” to buy a product or service based on word of mouth (source: Keller Fay).

Reputation Matters

Consumers are smart, money savvy and want to know about the company and services they use so leveraging every opportunity to get in touch and stay in touch is critical. The back fence and chatting with neighbors while hanging laundry might be gone, but talking about the products people like, and dislike, hasn’t changed at all.

One negative comment in the social media sphere can damage, even destroy, your reputation. Timely response is the best tool to minimize the impact of negative comments about your brand, and active engagement is a cost-effective, rapid-response tool, if you know how to do it right.

The Media Gofer staff becomes your staff in order to greatly increase your brand’s awareness in industry related forums, blogs, Wikipedia, LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more. We will work with you to create or enhance the effectiveness of your Facebook page, Twitter page, company blog and other electronic resources to ensure consistent, high-quality communications with your existing customers and those who will be your customers in the future.

Media Gofer listens and develops relationships with consumers on behalf of your brand. We watch the conversation and provide you with intelligence on every comment we make in the social media sphere on your behalf.

_________________________

About Media Gofer

Media Gofer offers a scalable social media savvy team working in concert with your PR department to actively engage consumers and businesses in the social media sphere. We promote, advocate, respond and protect the client’s brand in the social media sphere.

With over 40 years of observing and responding to changes and trends in this media industry, our staff members are highly trained specialists who search and archive the media relevant to you. We engage your customers, your competition’s customers and produce social media tailored to increase your brand awareness and loyalty.

Even though we are on the forefront of media technology, we believe more than ever in the importance of personal contact. When you call us with questions, you won’t have to figure out a complicated voicemail system; you’ll talk to a person. We are always just a tweet, email, Facebook comment or phone call away.


Got a breaking story? Talk to Accounting

By Jeff Ryan

The legitimization of citizen journalists

How often do we hear the term “breaking news”? Constantly, right? The truth is… there is no real breaking news these days. Stories are sold to us as” breaking news” for the purpose of keeping us glued to the tube.

Ratings, ratings, ratings…it’s all about ratings. That’s no secret. But the extent of the dissolution of broadcast news is the dirty little secret the networks don’t want you to know. If you did, their ratings might slide. But the truth is today, the cost of delivering a story overrides even ratings value. I learned this while talking with a journalist from a major network’s Asia bureau. This journalist’s description of how a story makes it to broadcast was a little shocking, even to one who has witnessed the demise of print journalism.

How it was versus how it is…from the mouth of this reporter, who spoke to me only on the condition that I’d promise anonymity

This person has been with the network for over 20 years and has watched the Asia bureau shrink from a staff of over 60 in the 80’s to six today. When the student uprising at Tiananmen Square in 1989 erupted, no less than eight crews with five people per crew per network filmed the events to make sure they “got” the story! It was cloak and dagger back then. Sending multiple crews to cover a story was the norm. Camera equipment was given its own plane seat and hotel room. Crews secretly filmed and smuggled tape to London to make the broadcast. Getting the story was everything, and cost of covering the story was not a consideration. It was the kind of stuff that would have made Edward R. Murrow and Walter Cronkite proud.

Today Murrow and Cronkite must be cursing accounting from their graves. We are fed entertainment masquerading as “news”. An important international story like the Tiananmen Square story would likely go uncovered, and here’s why: Broadcast networks, no less than the major newspapers like The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and The Washington Post, have closed or consolidated foreign bureaus. But, that’s not the primary reason. Today journalists must “sell” the story to the network, and I don’t mean just selling the story to the managing producer. Today accounting is heavily involved in the process of which stories get reported.

For the purpose of preserving my sources’ anonymity, I will provide my own version of the process as it was described to me. The following scenario, I’ve been reassured, is true for all networks. But first, a little education how the inner workings of broadcast news organizations operate today:

These days a foreign correspondent must submit a minimum of three stories to cover the “one” story they really want to report, and they must pitch the stories to different shows on the network in hopes of their being bought. There’s no one budget for news. If NBC Nightly News, which has its own budget for news, doesn’t pick up the stories maybe the Today show, with its budget, will.

So let’s suppose you have an important breaking story that should be reported — Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s comment reported in the Wikileaks documents (“How am I supposed to put pressure on our banker (referring to China)?” To justify the cost of sending a crew, you need to pitch two other story ideas to the network –say, a story on China’s high-speed rail system and another on the aftermath of the earthquakes a couple of years ago. All three stories must be accepted to justify the cost of sending the crew to the region. But by the time the stories are pitched to the editors and scrutinized by accounting and actually bought by a show, the story is no longer “breaking”… it’s yesterday’s news.

That is the shocking reality of news reporting today. News stories are actually bought and sold to various shows within each network. Therefore, important breaking news just doesn’t get reported unless it’s convenient from an accounting point of view (i.e., the crew is already in place).

This explains the rise of the citizen journalist and blogger and their legitimization by the networks. It is through citizen journalists that the networks now get breaking news. The budget just isn’t there anymore to support a real news team.


Did Social Media Save Newsweek.com?

By Jeff Ryan

The old Chinese curse “may you live in interesting times” originates from a Chinese proverb that is one of three in severity, the other two being; “may you come to the attention of powerful people” and “may your wishes be granted”. A mixed bag for sure and strangely poignant in our globally interconnected society.

Last week, the Daily Beast and Newsweek announced the merger and creation of The Newsweek Daily Beast company aka Newsbeast. The evolution of the internet has certainly brought interesting times to us all. Global interconnectedness has put American workers in competition with the whole world. The print business model died with the advent of Craigslist, the meteoric growth of on-line advertising and news sites like the Daily Beast and Huffington Post.

The New York Times published a piece in which the new conglomerate’s chief executive, Stephen Colvin, told the paper that “Newsweek.com will cease to exist after the merger, and anyone who types the URL into their browser will be redirected to TheDailyBeast.com.” The staffers at Newsweek.com learned via the Times article that the merger of the Daily Beast, a two-year old online only news site and the iconic 77-year-old Newsweek magazine meant the end of Newsweek.com and their jobs.

What happened next saw all three proverbs come to light. A team of anonymous Newsweek.com employees launched a Tumblr page, titled “Save Newsweek.com – A Defense of Newsweek.com,” above the subheader, “Why we think it would be a mistake to close the award-winning Website of Newsweek magazine.” Within an hour of the launch of “Save Newsweek.com” over 200 comments were posted in support of Save Newsweek.com. Twitter lit up with thousands of tweets posting supportive comments with a link to the site.

Within hours of the Twitter uproar Tina Brown tweeted: “Woah! Newsweek.com’s superb content will live under its own banner and URLs on the new site. Not shutting down, combining.” The staffers indeed got the attention of an important person with a little help from the twitterverse. Will their wishes be granted? Vanity Fair’s Juli Weiner in her November 15th article on the merger noted; “Colvin’s statement and Brown’s tweet aren’t necessarily incongruous. The former suggests that Newsweek.com’s content will be hosted by DailyBeast.com, and the latter just clarifies that Newsweek.com’s content will differ from Daily Beast fare because its URL will somehow include “Newsweek.” Brown’s tweet… one could infer… Newsweek.com will be redirected to a Newsweek.com section of the Daily Beast. Only time (pardon the pun) will tell.


Scott Stratten @unmarketing “Keep Going Until We Stop”

I’ve seen Scott speak a few times and always enjoyed  but never so much as this video.