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A comparison of the top media databases - Part 2

Posted: 2012-08-06 in Resources    |   Tagged: cisionpoint


An update to our review of Cision Point, following a number of recent changes to their system.

After being contacted by Cision Point, following our database comparison last week, it has been brought to our attention that a number of recent changes have taken place that mean some of the data in the comparison is no longer accurate. So in the interest of fair play @jimbeckham has taken another look at Cision’s database –


The biggest change to Cision, something that we touched on before, is that the Power Search is no longer the best option. I assume the only reason it has been left in is for people who don’t want to have to relearn how to perform a search. However, I strongly advise that you take the time to do this as not only is the new search quicker and more intuitive, but it also returns more results too. Searches can be based on keywords (or categories) that a contact or outlet has been tagged with, words found in their description text or a combination of the two. They can be set to take a number of factors into account, including country or media type.


Upon finding the results, Cision presents a list of filters at the top of the page. This allows the user to quickly remove results that might not be relevant, or at a glance see a breakdown of results by country, media type, publication frequency etc. It took a bit of experimentation but these filters can be combined to show different types of data without having to perform another search. For instance, to view only national newspapers combine National (under the Focus heading) with Daily Newspapers (under the Media Type heading).

The new total results found after searching for contacts under the “Personal Finance” category in the UK and ROI are as follows:


Nationals: 82

Blog: 126

Online: 81

Freelance: 65

Other: 143

Total: 497


However, these results are not quite all they seem.

Relevance/Quality of Results

Whereas other databases may store multiple outlets under one contact, Cision instead stores each contact separately. Going through the blogs for instance, I found 12 duplicate contacts for a single journalist who writes for a number of blogs. Nevertheless the numbers were still higher than in our earlier comparison, and much higher than the equivalent Power search.

Upon closer inspection, some of these results were not quite as relevant as those from other databases. It could be argued that this isn’t too much of an issue because Cision provides the tools available for easy filtering of the results that aren’t as relevant to a customer’s particular needs. If you need a list of primary and secondary contacts who may be interested in your story then having so many results is probably quite useful. For instance, if you can’t find the Personal Finance Reporter at a national then having the details of the Editor of the Business Section may be a good backup.

Cision collects a vast array of information on its contacts, which lead to more selection options both when setting up a search or filtering results. But with these come more opportunities for gaps in information. For example Cision has a very large database of blogs, but these are also the outlets with the least amount of information, sometimes no more than a name and a URL.

Other Features

One interesting feature is the ability to search by social influence. This allows you to search what topics people who have added their social profile to the database are talking about. Twitter feeds also appear on a contact’s profile page, if they have allowed Cision access to them that is.

The Mail Merge feature is very customisable, with a step by step setup and a preview option before emails are sent. These have a small opt out option at the bottom with no Cision logo.

Multiple searches and lists can be opened and managed simultaneously in tabs, and notifications appear when the details of a contact in your list are updated. Unfortunately this does tend to have an effect on the performance of Cision, with delays sometimes of 5 to 10 seconds between switching tabs or adding a new filter and it actually appearing on your screen. Annoying if you’re in a hurry. This is something we’ve noticed over a long-term period of using Cision both at work and at home.


The thing I really like about Cision is that your search results, lists and exports can be customised to show only the columns containing the information you need, in an order of your choosing. Multiple configurations can be set up and saved, with one set default so results are automatically displayed exactly how you want them each time you do a search.

Cision has many more category headings than the two other databases I looked at (Features Exec and Gorkana), but really these are only useful if they actually have information in them. Cision’s two long term goals need to be to push outlets and contacts for this extra data and to speed up their system.

The more data a PR company can get on an outlet/journalist before pitching them, the more they can assess whether their story will actually be relevant. Fear of bombardment by irrelevant stories from PR companies is probably a journalist’s main reason for not wanting to be on a database. Yet if a PR company is provided with the information needed to do their pre-pitch research thoroughly, they can approach the right people with the right story.

Not only does this make it likely a story will actually be published, but it creates a positive relationship between PR company and journalist, and increases the chance for future stories to be published too.

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Does this post make you feel all warm and fuzzy? Or are you fuming? Either way, let us know by posting your comment below. This week, our favourite comment wins its author a £20 Amazon voucher.


Joseph Fanous

Mon 6th August, 2012

Hi Heather,

I've just seen your posts referring to database system for prs and noticed that you reviewed our platform (MEDIAtlas) which we no longer offer to new clients.

If you would like to do a review on our new platform, please let me know.

Best wishes


Kester Ford

Mon 6th August, 2012

Hi Jim,

Thanks very much for taking another look at CisionPoint, and for including us in your round-up in the first place.

There’s some good feedback for us in both these posts – I’m going to look into how we can get more into our standard package so that more of our clients can benefit from the great developments you saw but couldn’t include in your review (e.g. the activity tracking/reporting and the web/social distribution elements). Additionally, we’re investigating the introduction you received, and will review the intro for new clients. I believe there are changes we can make quickly that will benefit all of our customers.

That said, everyone at Cision is extremely proud of our product, our data and our people. We firmly believe ours is the best database on the market as it provides the fullest integration of accurate data, effective distribution options, a wide scope of media monitoring and easy to use analysis tools. In particular the work we are doing with social media to identify the most important contributors in various sectors keeps us ahead of an increasingly fractured and complex media environment, something that an online PR/Marketing blog praised only last week. (http://seosocialgeek.com/2012/08/03/top-5-tools-to-find-relevant-bloggers/)

We’re so confident that our product and data are the best on the market that anyone wishing to have a free one week trial can see for themselves by getting in touch and quoting this blog (info.uk@cision.com). In recognition of the truism that whatever is written on the internet stays there forever, I guess I’d better limit this offer to 2012.

Oh, and Jim, can I just ask that you update the original post to reference this new post please?

Thanks again,

Kester Ford, Head of Product, Cision UK

Dan Siegel

Tue 27th January, 2015

Curious how you're finding Cision after the roll-up with Vocus and Gorkana. Would love to hear a new review. Would love to get your feedback on our product Spokepoint! We've built a journalist search engine that crawls the web for the right media contacts, rather than looking at a a static database. We're a team from MIT and are working to improve the product every day, so getting feedback is how we roll!


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