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How to cut-through the noise with fact-based information

The Brookings Institution, a nonprofit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, is consistently ranked as one of the most influential think tanks.

The organization aims to solve public policy issues through high-quality, independent research, and to be a go-to resource for media on public policy issues.

“Our position is that we are a reliable, unbiased, and fact-based source for media and the general public,” said Brennan Hoban, Brookings Institution communications coordinator.

With Brookings scholars spread across its worldwide research programs, part of Hoban’s job is to make sure the promotional requirements of each program are being met and that efforts aren’t being duplicated. “We have research programs in India and Asia that have specific needs, and in Washington alone we have five centers with their own unique research,” he explained. “We needed a way to consolidate our campaigns, keep our centers aware of each other’s work, and provide a strong and unified brand voice for the institution.”

The Brookings Institution chose the Cision Communications Cloud for its ability to identify key influencers; provide an environment in which to craft and distribute email pitch campaigns on multiple concurrent research projects; and attribute value to earned media efforts.

The Cision Database helps build reporter lists that are categorized by subject matter and location. “Some Brookings centers used to host their media lists in Excel on their computers, which required manual updating and weren’t accessible to the rest of the communications team,” noted Hoban. “With Cision, it’s been much easier to build lists that can be shared across teams and updated in real time.”

Cision’s email distribution capabilities removed communications silos by providing one place for the whole team to distribute press releases, send emails to influencers, and manage social posts. Its monitoring solutions help the team track scholars, projects, and centers, which enables the team to discover who they have reached with their earned media coverage, how their audience responded, what other outlets are saying, and which public policy and current event issues are trending online.

“We recently grew our analytics team, so we were excited to see what kind of data we could track and report on,” said Hoban. “We’ve set up custom analytics searches to monitor scholar mentions, coverage about each center, and all of our active programs.”

The team also subscribes to daily media alerts for timely notifications whenever scholars and projects are getting attention.

While everyone on the team uses Cision Comms Cloud differently, Hoban takes advantage of the platform’s full offerings of database, monitoring, and analytical tools. Some of the specific areas of value for Hoban include:

More cohesive and coordinated campaigns

“Whenever we research a reporter inside Cision, we’ll leave notes to each other about who last contacted them, the date of contact and how that interaction went,” he added. “Having everyone and their projects all in one place has been a game changer for us.”

Improved media outreach

Cision’s Database of over 1.6 million contacts gives the think tank endless earned media opportunities. “We can really narrow down our searches and find the right contacts easily,” said Hoban. “We’ve pre-populated many media lists in the platform, so there’s never a scramble to find the right list for new and upcoming projects.”

Having access to a reporter’s specific beat and recent articles has proven to be a real time-saver.

Easily identifiable trends

“The platform really helps us determine what issues are driving coverage and which outlets are driving our unique visitors per month,” stressed Hoban. “It has helped us manage our media hits.”

The Brookings Institution has seen its media mentions grow consistently month over month.

Testing earned media opportunities

Having the ability to send and receive reports on its email distribution through the Cision Comms Cloud, Brookings has been able to improve open rates and engagement by testing its content.

“We learned that condensed email copy, promoting one targeted piece of content, and including our company name in the subject line led to higher open rates,” Hoban commented.

Outside of the usual purpose for Cision Comms Cloud, the team is also able to use the platform to investigate the viability of partnering with third-party websites to re-publish its content. “We could look at the reach and potential audience of these smaller websites to help us make informed decisions about our content,” said Hoban.

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