How To Use Cision: Full Beginners Guide [2022]

how to use cision

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Cision is a powerful online platform that PR pros use to amplify their efforts. In essence, Cision streamlines the pitching process. It allows you to send your pitches to thousands of media outlets with one click. If you think of pitching your client’s story to the press like fishing, then Cision is like fishing with a net instead of a single hook. It is an invaluable tool that gives you the power to be more efficient, more organized, and more successful.


Use Cision to build a pitching list

One of the most beneficial features Cision provides is the ability to build media lists. Cision’s database of media contacts includes more than 1.1 billion social influencers and journalists. When you are ready to pitch your client to the media, Cision allows you to build lists of relevant contacts.

In order to compile a list in Cision, you can search by a variety of fields, including the name of the journalist or outlet, the field or topic on which they report, the language they report in, and the locations that they reach. Our recommendation is that you keep your lists at 1,500 contacts or less. This will help you in two ways. First, it will keep you from seeing a lot of overlap in your lists, which is a problem I will cover later in this post. Second, it will keep you from getting a volume of responses that you cannot keep up with. By building a targeted media list, you can make sure that you can field the responses that you get in a timely manner.

Pro Tip: As you are building lists in Cision, make sure that when you save your work, you see the confirmation notice before you move on. If you don’t see the notice, your list has not been saved. If you move on before saving your list, your list will be lost, which does not lead to the type of efficiency you want.

Once you have built (and saved) your list, take another look to make sure that it only include outlets that are relevant to your client. For example, if your goal is to pitch to health and wellness publications, you may find that Cision includes travel or food publications as relevant outlets. While they may address health and wellness, they are not focused on it. Pulling those types of outlets out will help you to have a better list.

Also, Cision gives you the ability to remove previously built lists from the list you are building. This can be very helpful if you recently pitches to a list and do not want to hit it again so soon. Without changing the parameters of your search, you can remove any specific list that you have already compiled.

Overall, when building lists it is important to keep in mind that just as Cision empowers you to connect with the media more easily, it also empowers you to annoy the media more easily. No reporter wants to received 20 pitches a day from you. Doing that can quickly result in that reporter blocking your email address. If you make lists too big, it is easy to have overlap that will result in certain outlets getting multiple pitches on multiple topics. Use your filters to make sure your you are pitching responsibly. Respect that reporters are busy people. While they appreciate getting relevant pitches, they also appreciate not getting irrelevant pitches.

Pro Tip: When exploring lists in Cision, there are multiple views available. Some work better for building while others work better for exploring. In addition, you can shuffle the list, arranging it alphabetically, to more easily find what you are looking for.

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Use Cision as a bulk email tool

Once you have built your list, you can use Cision to build and send bulk email that is professionally formatted and personalized. You will find this feature under the “Campaign” tab. Start by naming your campaign so that you can find it later, then enter the identifying information that you will want to be included in your message.

Once you have selected the list of contacts that will receive the pitch, you can select a design template that you want to use for the message. When making your selection, keep in mind that you want the contacts or outlets that are receiving the pitch to feel like they are getting a personal message directly from you rather than through a bulk email platform. Your best bet will typically be to create a message that mimics the format you use for your personal email.

The final step in constructing the email will be adding the merge fields. This is how the message becomes personalized for each recipient. Rather than it saying, “Dear Sir or Madam,” it will include the name of the recipient based on the information in Cision’s database. At Otter, we have had the best luck with using the “formal name” for the pitch contact.

Pro Tip: A big part of the power of Cision is the ability that it gives you to deliver one email to thousands of people. But if that email comes across as robotic or impersonal, it won’t bubble to the top of any reporters inbox. Take some time to make the email look personal, rather than bulk. One way to do this is to make sure the entire message uses the same font style and size. Make sure it does not look like something that you threw together by cutting and pasting text from other messages (even if that is what you did).

Once your pitch message is ready to go, you can send a preview to yourself to determine that the delivered message has the look and feel that you intend. Then you can send it or schedule it to be sent at a later date.


Other beneficial features available on the Cision platform

In addition to giving you access to the world’s top journalists and influencers, Cision also can be used to help you to research and identify which potential media outlets are right for your client. If your client’s goal is to establish himself as a thought leader within a particular field, Cision will help you to zero in on the most relevant publications in that field. If your client is trying to raise awareness about his services or products by getting in the news in a particular geographic region, Cision can identify the top media outlets in that region. If your client wants coverage in only the most influential publications, Cision can identify the media coverage that reaches the most people.

Because Cision allows you to save email messages as well as lists, you can use it to save time and avoid mistakes by cloning messages. After a message has been sent, you can pull it up again, make any appropriate edits, and send it to a new list without the need of starting the process from scratch.

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Warning: Don’t use Cision to amplify bad public relations

Cision is a tool that lets you do great PR work in less time with less effort. However, it will not make bad PR look good. If you are going to use Cision to send a pitch to 1,500 top reporters, make sure that the content is well written. If you are sending out a press release, make sure it has a great boilerplate. If you say your client is available for an interview, make sure they are ready to respond before you send the pitch.

If you would like some help making sure that your PR is ready for prime time, take some time to explore more articles in the Otter PR blog. You will a host of articles that can make your PR efforts more effective, including articles on The Difference Between Marketing and PR, The Ten Best PR Tools and How to Use Them, How to Pitch a News Story to an Editor + Proven Media Pitch Examples, and How To Conduct a Communications Audit.

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Tags: Cision, PR, Public relations
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Nik Korba

Nik has been a screenwriter, ghostwriter, novel writer, song writer, and blog writer with a degree from the University of Miami. He has prepared communications for thousands online and on social platforms, as well as being involved in the production of more than 1,000 videos.
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About Otter PR

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