Though the team at Cision Insights relies on state-of-the art technologies and tools to solve problems for some of the most successful companies and institutions around the world, it’s the people behind the scenes—and their ability to develop and execute customized research that produces actionable intelligence that sets it apart.
In this interview, Collin Gerst, Head of US Briefings at Cision Global Briefings, gives a behind-the-scenes look at the makings of a daily briefing, discusses why they are integral to clients’ communication strategies, and reveals the one factor that sets Cision’s work apart.
Cision: Please introduce yourself and tell us about your role at Cision Global Briefings.
Collin Gerst: I’m Collin Gerst, and I’m the Head of U.S. Briefings on Cision’s Insights team. I joined Cision six years ago as an analyst and have been fortunate to see my career grow along with the company, rising from an entry level position to managing my own team. I lead our division of more than 140 experts who deliver world-class output to corporate and government leaders.
With a B.B.A. in Economics and International Business, and a Master of Public Policy degree in Quantitative Economic and Policy Analysis, how does your education play into your current position?
I’d say that education is what lies at the heart of our success here on the Briefings team. We have subject matter experts from a diverse range of disciplines: PhDs, lawyers, journalists, historians and more. I think this differentiates Cision in the industry. That intellectual horsepower is what really drives our work.
We learn quickly, drill down to the essentials of question and disseminate key information quickly and clearly. We handle the complexity, so clients are presented with clear, actionable insights.
What is the Head of US Briefings responsible for at Cision?
I’m responsible for managing all aspects of our operations on the US Briefings team—coordinating schedules; managing relationships with Cision HR, finance, tech, sales and others; and overseeing the deliverables of our entire team who serves 90+ Fortune 500 companies, corporate clients and government agencies.
What are some of the questions clients are coming to Cision with?
Clients turn to the US Briefings team because they understand the value of concise, up-to-the-minute information delivered directly to busy decision-makers. While we customize our approach to meet the needs of each individual client, the main issues we aim to address are brand/reputational awareness, competitive intelligence and real-time crisis monitoring.
By getting a customized daily briefing each morning in their inbox, executives have the information they need to start their day.
"ONE OF THE BENEFITS OF WORKING WITH CISION INSIGHTS IS THE BROAD RANGE OF SOLUTIONS WE CAN DELIVER. WHILE A DAILY NEWS BRIEFING DELIVERS KEY INSIGHTS, WE CAN ALSO ASSESS THE TONALITY OF THE COVERAGE RECEIVED—AN INDICATION OF HOW ONE’S MESSAGE IS BEING RECEIVED IN THE MEDIA MARKETPLACE."
What is a “daily briefing”?
A daily briefing is a highly customized intelligence document. We work with each client to find out what’s most important to them. Many ask for data and insights about how their agency or organization is positioned in both traditional and social media, updates on their competitors, how relevant regulations are changing, how technological changes are shaping their sector and more.
Once we know what to look for, our team will sort through content published by domestic and global news outlets each day to identify and curate a concise, impactful briefing that’s tailor-made to the client.
What types of analysis do government agencies typically ask for?
One of the benefits of working with Cision Insights is the broad range of solutions we can deliver. While a daily news briefing delivers key insights, we can also assess the tonality of the coverage received—an indication of how one’s message is being received in the media marketplace.
Separately, by aggregating authoritative news coverage on a daily basis, we can identify longer-term trends that’re shaping important discussions. For clients who want to dive even deeper, we have a separate Media Intelligence division staffed with experts who can quantitatively determine how effective one’s communication strategy has been.
Can you name some of the government agencies you’ve been working with?
Over the years, we’ve served a broad range of government agencies in the US, and currently work with the Treasury Department, Health and Human Services, and the Transportation Security Administration, among others.
How much of your team’s work is “art” and how much is “science”?
The human element is absolutely vital to what the Cision Global Briefings teams offers—and what sets us apart from the competition. By having a dedicated group of experts for each client, we’re able to respond to feedback in real time and adjust our output to meet their changing needs.
"THE HUMAN ELEMENT IS ABSOLUTELY VITAL TO WHAT THE CISION GLOBAL BRIEFINGS TEAMS OFFERS—AND WHAT SETS US APART FROM THE COMPETITION."
Our expert analysts get to know our clients and operate as extensions of their teams, allowing us to use our many digital tools for data monitoring and collection, and offer unique insights and anticipate what will be important before they know themselves. Our long track record speaks for itself and shows that our people make all the difference.
I believe we’re known for both art and science. I don’t think you can have one without the other.
What are a few resources you'd recommend to people interested in learning more about the intersection of data collection, analysis, public policy and communications?
While there are many great sources, NPR’s On the Media is a great starting point for people looking to explore the current state of the media landscape.
For a more in-depth look at how analytics, monitoring and more can help shape strategic and policy decisions, Cision has some great resources available.
That site has plenty of information for both communications professionals and those interested in learning more about the space, but as a starting point I’d recommend our annual Global Comms Report, which explores how strategic communications professionals across the world are relying on data and analytics to inform strategic decision making. It’s a great read and provides fascinating insights into how leading organizations are putting communications at the heart of their operations. It’s definitely worth a look.