Vocus-Cision merger will address changing needs of PR pros, says new CEO Granat

CHICAGO: Newly minted Vocus CEO Peter Granat said the plan by private equity firm GTCR to form a global PR cloud company by bringing together Cision and Vocus is misunderstood by critics.

Granat, who resigned from his position as president and CEO of Cision on Monday to join Vocus as chief exec, said critics of the intended deal do not understand how the combined group will benefit customers.

After GTCR acquired Vocus in a $447 million deal in April, Katie Paine, a senior consultant at Paine Publishing, wrote in her company blog that investors saw more to Vocus’ offering than customers did, most of whom she noted were asking her about alternative options before their contracts were up.

“All I know is that right now, the founders and shareholders are doing a lot better than the customers,” Paine wrote.

While specifics have not been announced, Granat said the merger will address the changing needs of PR professionals in a rapidly evolving industry.

“What excites me about this opportunity is the ability to use the scale of both organizations and make additional investments in research and development, new technologies, and acquisitions to address the changing needs of the PR industry going forward,” he explained. “Things like content marketing, social, and sponsored content are all becoming new tools in the PR professional’s bag.”

He added that although numerous PR agencies have merged in the last few years, companies still have many firms to choose from in the marketplace. Likewise, with tech startups constantly launching, competition in the software industry will continue to increase, Granat said.

“There are more entrants than ever entering the communications space,” he said. “Most customers today are managing multiple mobile apps for social streams, workflow tools, news distribution, and analytics.”

Roxane Papagiannopoulos, president of RMP Media Analysis, toldPRWeek in April that if a company’s contract with Vocus or Cision is about to come up for renewal, she would advise against “locking yourself in.”

“I’d see how this pans out first,” she said. “Both companies offer excellent resources, such as monitoring and contact databases, but if GTCR ends up with both products, as I suspect will happen, they will have to decide what products to keep.” 

Granat said it is too early to comment on how the companies will decide which products will remain once they merge. Innovation planning will run over the next couple of months, he added.

“We will continue to support and enhance the product and service offerings for our Cision customers, and [the combination] does not result in any changes to our customers’ products, services, or support,” said Scott Livingston, Cision’s SVP of market engagement.

Granat was unable to disclose when the merger is expected to close.

Magnus Thell replaced Granat as Cision’s president and CEO on an interim basis on Monday. Thell will continue in his current role as head of Cision Europe as he takes on the CEO and president responsibilities.

“[Thell] will continue to pursue our long-term strategy of helping PR professionals find and connect with influencers, measure and analyze the success of those conversations, and engage more deeply with target audiences,” said Livingston.

Cision’s board of directors has not released a timetable at this point as to when the company expects to hire a new CEO to succeed Granat.

Through its Blue Canyon Holdings unit, GTCR Valor Merger Sub acquired 72% of Cision in April. Trade rival Meltwater owns 15.3% of the company.

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