Home > PR > Updated – breaking: Burrelles to “exit the media monitoring business” after 130 years; the venerable newspaper clipping service shutters;

Updated – breaking: Burrelles to “exit the media monitoring business” after 130 years; the venerable newspaper clipping service shutters;

Burrelles President Cathy Del Colle says the company aims to keep some services open; existing Burrelles customers may choose to transfer media monitoring services to Agility PR Solutions; 

[Last updated 6/12/24 11:23 ET]

I heard rumors today (6/11/24) that the venerable clipping service Burrelles is shutting down. Moments ago I called the company to confirm this is true. A day later, the company provided an interview that walked that back a bit — intends to keep some services open — but the core of Burrelles, the media monitoring business, is over.

This is effectively a “live post” that I’ll update frequently with bullet comments (and proofread later).

Here’s what I know so far:

  • The company will lights go out and the doors will shut forever on June 30, 2024; “exit the media monitoring business” at the end of the month; in a phone interview a day after the story broke (6/12/24), Burrelles President Cathy Del Colle said the company will keep Bidsource and perhaps a few other products or services. The company is evaluating what can be saved. Cathy would not say what percentage of business Bidsource took, but it’s almost certainly very small;  “It’s a sad day for Burrelles,” Cathy said; 
  • The company has been in business for 130 years;
  • It’s most famous for employees in Maine, who for years, would read through newspapers and physically clip (with scissors) and mail the topics, names, brands or companies being monitored;
  • Existing customers may move to Agility PR Solutions, which will honor the contract until renewal time; (Update: I spoke with Agility and customers will have to renegotiate contracts – see below);
  • Burrelles would not disclose the number of customers impacted;
  • Enlyft, an intent-data platform, currently says, “We have data on 276 companies that use BurrellesLuce. The companies using BurrellesLuce are most often found in the United States and in the Public Relations and Communications industry. BurrellesLuce is most often used by companies with 10-50 employees and 1M-10M dollars in revenue. Our data for BurrellesLuce usage goes back as far as 8 years and 3 months.” The company currently has 49 reviews on G2, 4 reviews on Trust Radius and none on Capterra ;
  • Employees are rumored to receive severance, but details are unclear;
  • According to an email from Cathy post-interview, “Burrelles has 97 employees today”;
  • A representative I spoke with on the phone (on 6/11/24) cited the decline of newspapers as among the factors that led to this decision;
  • In the interview a day later, Cathy noted Burrelles has experienced a decline sales in print monitoring for the last 15 years and in tandem with the newspaper business; while many companies in the PR space have accepted private equity funding — a trend I’ve documented on the pages — Burrelles decidedly did not go that route;
  • The company rebranded in 2019; according to a company press release, the rebrand highlights “the company’s technology-forward, innovative approach comes in response to market demand for digitally-focused services and analytical insights into complex business and media trends.”
  • Cathy has worked for the company for nearly 40 years; she pointed out that many of the employees have similarly long tenures; anyone who’s worked in PR for a few years, probably knows or met someone who worked for Burrelles; “It’s personal,” she said; and
  • She confirmed everything Martin of Agility said on the interview yesterday and noted that Agility “has been a great partner.”

“It’s a sad day for Burrelles.”

~ Burrelles President Cathy Del Colle

I have left messages with both companies requesting interviews. Agility granted an interview with their CEO. Burrelles has not responded to multiple requests for comment granted an interview with Cathy Del Colle a day later.

I’ll update this post as I learn more.

“It’s a reflection of the transition of the media landscape. Burrelles built a business on that traditional news clipping business and has stayed true to that service. As the last man standing, it’s a reflection of the media and where the advertising dollars are going.”

“We have a tremendous amount of respect for Burrelles.”

~ Agility PR Solutions CEO Martin Lyster

Print may well be officially dead 

I spoke to Agility PR Solutions CEO Martin Lyster (6/11/24 and updated immediately after around 4:34). While I aim to write something more reflective later, he did clarify a few things and I offer the following bullet comments from our call:

  • Agility learned that Burrelles might close about a month ago;
  • Agility has had a white-label agreement with Burrelles as far back as 2018. Most of that was a white-label media monitoring service;
  • In 2021, the white labeling agreement evolved (which I did not know). Martin told me all Burrelles customers were effectively on the Agility platform for media monitoring, database and distribution (e-mail distribution is native; Agility has a press release distribution agreement I believe — need to double check — with Access Wire). Customers may have known this because the Agility logo was visible to customers who logged into their white label Burrelle’s instance. So in essence, it was, in hindsight, almost like a reseller agreement where customers purchased from Burrelles but were using Agility tech.
  • Agility never considered acquiring Burrelles; Martin doesn’t think Burrelles was ever really “on the market” looking for a buyer.
  • That holds good and bad news for Burrelles customers. On one hand, the migration from a technical perspective is easy. In fact, it’s already done. However, customers are suddenly today, on an idle Tuesday, thrust into a contract negotiation they weren’t expecting.
  • Martin says Agility will be “looking at contracts individually” to work with customers. He noted that Agility has a “strong technology stack and reputation for customer service” and “we’ll make this as seamless as possible” for customers caught up in the mix.
  • Agility can pull digital versions of news stories, but the scanned print articles service will end with Burrelles. Print may well be officially dead.
  • Agility is considering hiring an unspecified number of former Burrelles employees.

When asked what this means for the community Martin said:

“It’s a reflection of the transition of the media landscape. Burrelles built a business on that traditional news clipping business and has stayed true to that service. As the last man standing, it’s a reflection of the media and where the advertising dollars are going.”

Martin added: “We have a tremendous amount of respect for Burrelles.”

I’ll add updates as I get them.

All this makes me think of that Kung Fu Panda quote:

“Yesterday is history.

Tomorrow is a mystery.

Today is a gift and that’s why they call it the present.”

Why am I writing all this?

Because I’ve been covering PR technology vendors every month for nearly ~5 years. Why? Because no other publication was doing it consistently or in depth. I have written more than 100k words on PR technology, interviewed dozens of executives working in the space, compiled dozens of vendor briefings, and a handful of hands-on product reviews. I once worked in-house for one such vendor (the best in the market at that time) and so have had a look under the hood, so to speak.

Disclosure: I’ve never earned a dime from a PR technology vendor for writing these posts.

Here is a list of PR technology companies I follow — and here is the work in these three categories:

If you are a vendor and want to get on my radar, here’s everything you need to know.

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