One of the things that is hard to deny about public relations is the amount of time practitioners spent searching for media contacts. Based on the nature of the industry, programs like Cision are a necessary evil. I say evil, because I have come to find out that the learning curve on this program is steep. I’ve also come to find, that you can’t really teach Cision. You basically just have to get in there, sleeves rolled up, and click around aimlessly until you find the journalist of your dreams.

I first ‘learned’ Cision in a entry level research class, and sharpened up my skills in a media relations class. When it came time for me to actually build a legit media contact list, I felt very vanilla about my ability to do so. It took me longer than I care to admit to finally navigate my way through the endless search terms and tabs available in Cision. What I was left with was a shaky contact list that I was a little embarrassed to have my name on.

Fast forward to my current internship. I’m about three weeks in, and have compiled multiple media lists. My savviness for the program is now leaps and bounds beyond where it was, but I still feel like a baby deer learning to walk when I use it. I’m still at the stage where I click with extreme hesitation because I learned my lesson the hard way when I somehow clicked out of my very targeted search for a very specific blogger. That was a sad day.

I wanted to address Cision as my first piece of PR technology because as my fresh experience at my internship proves; you need to rock at Cision. Maybe I should start doing some of those webinars they’re always telling me about every time I log in, but until I do, here are some of the barebones things I’ve learned about Cision thus far:

  • Do not under any circumstances use your browsers back button when searching for contacts 

    • This will bring you back to the Cision home page, and to tears.
    • Double and triple check you use the ‘back’ button within the page.

  • If you have two monitors or split screens at your desk, worship them 

    • I find it very hard to keep consistency in contact lists when I’m constantly minimizing my browser to add information to excel. Split screens squash this problem.
  • All hail the hover text 

    • My favorite thing about Cision is that you can hover over a contact’s name and get their other info (phone, email, etc.) This means one less click, which means less time, and less of a chance you click the wrong thing.

  • Stick to what you know

    • There are just shy of a million different ways to find the same contact in Cision. Don’t try to recreate the wheel if your co-worker finds them by outlet instead of as individuals. Find out what makes sense to you and what sequence you prefer for gathering information, and then repeat it 200,000 times.

I’m still at basic level Cision speak, but hopefully soon I’ll be up there with the best of them using all the special Cision functions that I know exist. If I do ever figure them out, look forward to a Cision 2.0 post.

CisionPoint is a web-based software as a service product to build media lists, distribute press releases, manage PR campaigns, monitor news coverage and analyze results. –Wikipedia