The Gorkana Group, part of the same company that owns Durrants, U.K., press clipping service, was a major player at the 2013 conference of PR Society of America in Philadelphia Oct. 26-29.

Gorkana had 13 staffers at the conference, occupying exhibit space No. 4, one of the most visible in the hall.

gorkana
Thompson, Chapman
CEO of Gorkana, based in London, is Jeremy Thompson.

Jeni Lee Chapman, U.S. managing director, introduced opening session speaker Brian Solis, new media specialist and author of The End of Business As Usual: Rewire the Way You Work to Succeed in the Consumer Revolution. She heads the U.S. office at Two Rector St., New York 10006.

The company, which has been in the U.S. market since 2007, also took a full page ad in the conference program.

Durrants was bought by Exponent, private equity firm, in 2010 and has a database of more than 130,000 journalists. Revenues of Gorkana and Durrants are about $60 million, according to the Guardian.

Services include providing a database of editors, analyzing news as well as covering news, hosting networking events, posting jobs, and providing PR/social media measurement and evaluation.

Journalistic Role Pursued

Gorkana has also taken up journalistic duties including interviewing newspeople who have gone to the "Dark Side" (PR).

The website has interviews with 15 who have made the jump in recent months including Nicole Bronzan, former New York Times assistant metro editor who joined ProPublica in September as communications director.

Others interviewed include Drew Levinson, former CBS News correspondent who joined Hill+Knowlton Strategies as SVP, media relations; Lindsay Goldwert, ex-New York Daily News who joined HotwirePR; Thom Weidlich, ex-Bloomberg, who joined Sitrick and Co.; Carolyn Micheli, ex-Cincinnati Enquirer business editor who joined E.W. Scripps as VP of CC and IR, and Anne Marie Squeo, former Wall Street Journal award-winning reporter who joined 30 Point Strategies.

Founders Sold to Exponent for $40M in 2010

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Royal Gurkha
Founding the firm in 2005 were Michael Webster, son of David Webster, a U.K. corporate and financial figure who chaired the Safeway supermarket chain and Intercontinental Hotels, and Alex Northcott, previously with Morgan Stanley and J.P. Morgan.

They "were frustrated by the lack of a quality service to support them in targeting and building up positive and mutually beneficial working relationships with the media," says the company website.

Northcott named the company after a sergeant named Gorkana in the Royal Gurkha Rifles of the British Army who saved him from drowning in a swamp when the regiment was on a training mission in Borneo.

Webster and Northcott sold the business to Durrants in 2010 for about 25 million pounds (about $40 million), according to the April 8, 2010 Guardian. Webster received about nine million pounds and Northcott, 13 million. Both have left the executive staff of the company which is now headed by Thompson, former managing director of Durrants. Northcott continues as a board member.

Thompson was previously in sales, marketing and product development at The Thomson Corp. and United Business Media, owner of PR Newswire. He moved into the media monitoring sector in 2001.

Before joining Durrants he headed the news division of Xtreme Information and worked with the Deloitte mergers advisory team on the integration of Durrants and Xtreme News in 2004.

Chapman Was at Harris Interactive, TNS

Chapman, who joined Gorkana in September, 2012, had senior posts at the research firms of Harris Interactive and TNS more than 12 years. She worked with blue-chip companies in consumer goods, retail and financial services with a particular focus in technology.

She joined the executive team in London and reports to Thompson.

Chapman joins at a time when "building meaningful relationships between PR professionals and media representatives has never been more critical," said Thompson.