Most conversations regarding an analyst relations (AR) program start with, ‘We have a great solution and we want to tell as many analysts as possible about it. Let's build a program to make this happen and follow in the steps of something similar from the past.’
In this article, I’ll explain:
- Why an analyst relations program is important,
- What an analyst relations program involves,
- How analyst relations programs are evolving, and
- The goals of an analyst relations program.
Why is an analyst relations program important?
Analysts are a vital part of a company’s PR strategy as they influence key decision-makers such as investors, customers and partners through their published research and opinion pieces.
Business impact from industry analysts can be a healthy mix of objective and subjective; public and private.
What does an analyst relations program involve?
The essential ingredients for an AR program usually involve:
- Hand-picking analysts, firms and experts who wield influence in their market and creating a program focused on getting their attention,
- Setting internal program goals to create ‘analyst buzz’ through sponsored papers,
- Priming company spokespeople for scheduled analyst interactions and events,
- Creating an ideal mix of ‘analyst firm subscriptions’ to serve the company interests - as defined by the company, and
- Creating an operational cadence of messaging and updates (usually quarterly) to be shared in the chosen analyst community.
Eventually, the North Star is to carry out cherished celebrations when the vendor solution gets included in ‘the magic quadrant’ or ‘the wave report’.
This may be an overly simplistic approach. In these uncertain times with persistent economic pressures, brands/firms have become more conscious about program spending. There’s a need to streamline workflows and at the same time seamlessly collaborate.
How analyst relations programs are evolving
Firms want to have full visibility into the team’s interaction with and perception of the analyst community and ecosystem. They also want to quickly capture insights and data to share analytics with internal stakeholders.
As a result, the main questions being asked are:
- What is the business goal being achieved with the AR program?
- Is it possible to have a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating with analyst firms and influencers?
- How can the Analyst Relations Manager capture and pivot to the rapid changes happening in the global influencer/ analyst communities?
- How to keep global track of the moving targets of publications including competitive research, syndicated studies, industry trends and predictions, expert analysis and opinion pieces?
- Which internal stakeholders are connected and accountable for successful analyst interactions?
The ideal environment demands creating a mature and mutual relationship built on advocacy, friendliness and collaboration - all with explicit executive support. Engaging effectively with the analyst community brings undeniable value to technology firms, based on analyst experience, influence and skills.
Goals of an analyst relations program
An upgraded and relevant analyst relations program will focus on three key goals and relate them to objective metrics.
1) Having a clear business objective for the AR program.
This can come from answering some important questions on a quarterly basis, followed by carrying out the relevant tactics and measuring their efficacy. The objectives can be based on one or more of the following:
- Do we want to do brand/ company awareness generation?
- Do we want to work with analysts and influencers for sales lead generation?
- Do we want to work with market opinions and predictions for product development as well as R&D?
- Do we want to appropriately test and target our marketing messaging and campaigns?
2) Consistent and authentic engagement with the analyst community
This is useful in staying relevant, using a multichannel approach. This calls for being available for analysts and experts for detailed SME conversations as they gather intelligence for their future industry reports.
This is equally important as our reliance on analysts for their evaluation, research and analysis. We need to ensure clear and consistent engagement with the analyst community and own the narrative.
Remember that no news is not good news in this case. Meeting the analysts where they are and engaging all channels to be proactive with communication is a great signal! A good way to measure this is by using coverage stats and public mentions by the analyst community.
3) Bringing specific support to internal stakeholders to drive insights
This includes accurate and timely capture of analyst insights and analysis to deliver to internal stakeholders, helping inform difficult decisions related to product development, technology purchase or company strategy to help the company come out of the recession in a strong way.
Engaging the best and most respected voices of the analyst community to help bring clarity and insights is one of the best values of a vibrant AR program.
Finally, an important aspect to be considered is that an AR program provides many subjective benefits apart from the above objective ones.
Apart from direct dollars, strategy inputs or immediate press, analysts and influencers provide goodwill and feedback in a lot of privacy settings to their valued clients. From that standpoint, it’s important to consider that what goes around, comes around.