This month’s PR technology summary includes: Cision partners with video ad network Captivate; Q4 enhances investor relations CRM software; Updates from Notified, and Earnings from Meltwater and Q4; PR tech people on the move and more.
Some gas stations have embedded video monitors in their pumps. When you begin pumping fuel, the screen turns on and commercials start running. Anyone that fills up their tank is a captive audience.
This annoyance is powered by a digital-out-of-home video network. There are a handful of ad tech companies that provide this form of advertising – a gas stations aren’t the only place that host it. You’ll find these displays at malls, gyms, taxis and even elevators.
And that brings us to the first story in this month’s PR tech sum – covering news from the vendor community this month.
1. Cision to elevate press releases
Cision partnered with the digital-out-of-home video network Captivate to syndicated press releases sent through its PR Newswire distribution services. Whenever you ride an elevator in a fancy corporate building, Captivate is one of the providers that serve up video content.
The company characterized it this way:
“Press releases and brand stories issued through PR Newswire’s premium North American networks will now be directly delivered to Captivate editors through a dedicated feed. For Captivate, this PR Newswire feed will be a valued source of stories to share with the audiences they serve on elevator and lobby displays in Class A office towers and luxury multifamily residential properties in English and French in over 30 markets across the US and Canada.”
If you are wondering about B2B implications, Cision notes:
“Captivate recently announced a partnership that brings Captivate’s content and advertising experience to digital screens in WeWork flexible workspaces. This partnership extends the Captivate network by more than 175 high-traffic locations in top metro areas in North America – bringing the total Captivate office and residential building screen count to 14,500.”
Elevator passengers are certainly a captive audience – and press release material might just be a step up from the classic elevator music, or worse, the awkward silence. The screen gives everyone something to look at and pretend to be interested even as they strive to avoid eye contact.
Media relations is harder than ever, so I applaud Cision for attempting to think differently about the stodgy old business of press releases. It’s certainly much better than the previous announcement proclaiming guaranteed editorial placements for press releases.
2. Q4 releases software enhancements for investor relations CRM
Investor relations software provider Q4 Inc. announced new enhancements to its CRM application, called “Q4 Desktop” and mobile app “Q4 Go.”
Updates to the CRM include the “option to personalize communication to create a custom experience for their capital market contacts,” such as investors or financial analytics. Meanwhile the mobile app “delivers access to key CRM workflows that are fully integrated into Q4 Desktop, including identifying contacts, advanced search capabilities, and meeting management.”
In a separate announcement, the company also unveiled benchmarking and targeting as part of its “Engagement Analytics Suite.”
“Engagement benchmarking aggregates millions of digital investor interactions that take place on Q4’s Capital Connect platform, from over 2,600 of the world’s leading public companies with more than 15 million monthly IR website visits, 20 million email alerts opened each quarter, and 400,000 quarterly investor event attendees.”
Engagement analytics “clients can use the market’s first and only way to benchmark their IR program performance against peers in their industry and market cap based on engagement, empowering them to quantify [the] impact and evaluate the effectiveness of their strategy.”
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3. Notified completes integration of Globe Newswire
Notified originally started as a PR tech start-up based in Sweden. It was later acquired by a holdings company called West. West had also acquired several other PR software tools, and including PR software assets from NASDAQ which owned Globe Newswire.
Regular readers will recall I wrote a product briefing on Notified when it was still a startup titled, Notified by Intrado is a Promising PR Software Tool that Supports 5 Central Duties in Public Relations. In summary, I thought the product looked pretty slick. I recently received an updated demo of the Notified platform and can report I believe the original product briefing still has value.
So, what’s new? The company has integrated Globe Newswire, its press release distribution platform, into the Notified platform.
All Globe clients now log into the Notified platform, and previous Notified customers under the “distribute” tab. I’ve used Globe to distribute a press release for a client targeting Europe fairly recently. My research suggested it was the best value relative to other competitors like PR Newswire and Business Wire.
The process of submitting a release was straightforward forward and the analytics looked good. The only quibble I had was with invoicing. The company invoices every 30 days and typically, I carry that cost for clients, so I want to pay for the release and get reimbursed in the shortest amount of time possible.
To be sure, press release distribution is just one feature. Notified is an all-in-one platform that matches rivals of any of the incumbent providers in terms of size and reach. Recall that Notified is owned by West, which in turn is owned by a large and publicly traded private equity firm called Appollo Global Management (NYSE: APO). The company typically finds itself up against Cision and Meltwater but it does see Muck Rack from time to time.
Side note: The company, and its PR software division, have been through several name changes and rebrands, but today the company is called West Technology Group and the PR software business operates as Notified.
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4. Revenue up, losses shrink, ahead of possible Meltwater acquisition
Meltwater (Oslo Børs: MWTR) “reported revenue of $110.8 million up 4% year-over-year (YoY),” according to its latest earnings announcement. “Full year 2022 revenue was $438.7 million, up 9% from 2021 and 15% growth YoY on a constant currency basis.”
The company’s income statement included in the earnings report shows a net loss of $10.3 million in Q4 compared with a loss of $30.1 million YoY. For the full year 2022, the company lost $25.8 million compared to a loss of $77.9 million in 2021.
Cash flow, however, was up “Q4 2022 cash flow from operations was $15.4 million compared to $3.3 million in Q4 2021. The $12.1 million increase was primarily related to a $11.5 million improvement in working capital including FX changes, with the remaining difference from strong operating results due to cost savings initiatives.”
Meltwater cited several one-time expenses. “Q4 2022 one-time expenses were $6.8 million, out of which $2.5 million were related to the strategic review process, $1.7 million related to enhanced internal controls, and $1.2 million were one-time costs for CRM implementation.”
Overall, one-time expenses were down modestly for the full year: In 2022, there “were $12.5 million, compared to $14.4 million in [the] fiscal year 2021.”
The term “strategic review” is a financial code phrase indicating a company is interested in being acquired. Meltwater has previously announced it agreed to be acquired by a private fund called MW Investment B.V. for $563 million (approximation/estimation in USD). Assuming due diligence goes smoothly, I’d expect that deal to close.
5. Q4 Inc. earnings: revenue up; losses flatten
Q4 Inc. (TSX: QFOR) reported “quarterly revenue of $14.2 million, representing growth of 3.3% year over year.” It also landed a “net loss of $6.4 million, or EPS of $(0.16)” which was about the same compared with a YoY loss of $6.3 million.
The company said, “new client growth included 268 new subscription clients for the year.” However, it also reported ending the quarter with “2,662 total customers compared to 2,656 customers from the prior year period.” The delta of 262 suggests a churn rate of ~10%:
- 2,662 customers at year’s end – 268 new customers = 2,394 retained customers;
- 2,656 customers at the start of the year – 2,394 retained customers = 262 customers that churned;
- 2,656 customers at the start of the year / 262 customers that churned = 9.8% churn rate.
“As of December 31, 2022, the company had availability of $51.6 million to grow the business, which includes $21.5 million in cash and cash equivalents, $7.6 million in short-term investments, and a revolving credit facility of $22.5 million,” according to the company.
6. PR tech people on the move
- Cision named Cali Tran as its new CEO. Tran succeeds Brandon Crawley a managing director for Platinum Equity, a PE firm that owns Cision. Tran joins Cision from Centerfield, an adtech company also owned by Platinum Equity. where he served as president and chief business officer. Cision has turned over much of its c-suite including several CEOs over the last few years. Kevin Akeroyd left in 2020 and was succeeded by Abel Clark, who departed about this time last year in March 2020. Crawley acted as interim CEO until the company named Tran as the top executive.
- Truescope named Rick Lombardo as senior vice president of Media Intelligence in North America. “Lombardo has extended his industry expertise in sales and shaped PR solutions at Cision, Moreover Technologies, LexisNexis, Similarweb, and most recently as Senior Sales Executive at Notified,” the company said in a release. The company says Lombardo is an old acquaintance of Todd Murphy who led Universal Information Services, which Truescope acquired last month.
- Isentia “appointed Rainer Rhedey as chief technology officer,” Mumbrella reported. Rhedey joins from “Aussie, a mortgage broking business with over 1000 brokers and 220 stores” where he was the chief digital officer. “In September last year, Access Intelligence [not the publisher of PR News] and Isentia merged operations.” Isentia serves APAC and Access is headquartered in the UK.
7. Content picks:
Below are a few articles and posts – mostly related to PR technology or by PR technology vendors – that I think are worth your while perusing:
- Burrelles summarizes 10 pros and 10 cons of ChatGPT for PR pros.
- Prowly looks at the advantages and disadvantages of ChatGPT for PR.
- Ragan Comms Q&A with Linda Zebian of Muck Rack PR.
- “According to Cision data shared with Fast Company, ‘repurchase’ is among the most common keywords in this season’s earnings releases. here’s the top five: inflation (34%), interest rate (33%), repurchase (29%), supply chain (29%) and cybersecurity (9%).”
- “Having a voice can improve [the] sentiment of coverage” according to Signal AI. “An ‘Unnamed’ spokesperson might be able to give more juicy information, but a named spokesperson can be on message and provide more context to statements.”
- Here’s a solid short video primer by Chris Penn of Trust Insights on how ChatGPT works, and how marketing, PR and creatives can “optimize” inputs to get better results from it (also embedded nearby).
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Have an interesting announcement from a PR technology vendor? Here’s the updated list of PR technology companies I’m watching and here’s how to get on my radar.
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Image credit: DALLE, “a robot in an elevator reading a press release out loud to passengers in the style Rembrandt”