Marijane Funess March 2, 2017 | 01:04:27

How PR Can Make The Most Of Analyst Relations

As we’ve advised in a previous post, every good public relations person should know how to handle an analyst meeting, particularly if they specialize in B2B or tech PR. For nearly any vertical, it’s important to understand how analysts can be an asset to a PR program. PR is, after all, about reaching individual audiences, or publics, from media to investors, consumers (through social media), and influencers. And most audiences influence one another, so there’s a distinct multiplier effect to good PR that successfully engages all key segments.

A good first step is to recognize the influence of a major analyst report and to engage the appropriate analysts early on and not as an afterthought. Early and open communication with analysts can help inform a company’s ideal messaging, help position product launches, and actually support customer referrals for costly services with lengthy selling cycles.

By establishing relationships and setting up briefings with leading analysts like Gartner or Forrester early on, companies are sometimes afforded the opportunity to be featured in reports that provide them a powerful reputational boost and influence prospects for months or even years.

Reports can generate sales leads and investor interest. Positive response positions a company as an innovator and thought leader. Most importantly for PR strategists, analyst reports generate influential collateral for media outreach, providing journalists with credible sources to offer up insights, confirm trends and add quotes to industry profiles. Over time the well-tended analyst relationship can result in positive coverage in the trade press, and general business media as well. Some top tech companies actually consider analyst relations as (or sometimes more) important than media relations. Here are some tips to foster and nurture positive analyst relations.

Make sure the analyst is a fit to the company. Many executives may be enamored of the bigger brand names in analyst relations, but they aren’t the only players. Sometimes, they’re not even the right players. Look for niche firms who operate in your space. What they lack in size, they make up for in influence and depth of expertise. The right niched analyst is often more knowledgeable about a certain tech area than the major players. For example, you may not be familiar with Skylogic Research, but if you rep a drone company, you’d better bone up. Smaller specialty analysts often carry more weight with customers, journalists, and even other analysts.

Start small. As noted, a niche analyst relationship might be a better fit even than one with a brand-name company, but there’s also the nature of the relationship. Don’t be put off if you’ve just missed the large report, or if you don’t have a paid relationship with a given analyst. It’s almost always worth spending the time and energy, particularly if your business is new to the analyst company, if you have (big) news to announce, or if you can offer insights or intelligence into your industry as a whole. A good PR rep can also commission a quick survey of analysts who cover a given vertical on their impression of your brand and use the responses to prioritze both AR and media relations within a given category.

Plan, practice and prepare.  PR teams must put in the same level of planning and preparation for an analyst meeting that they would for a journalist interview. We advise in-depth briefing docs, simulated Q&As, and scrutiny of competitors in order to gain real fluency with the data and insights offered. Remember analysts are less about breaking news than they are about a deep dive into an industry, keying into important trends, and being able to translate complex information about an entire competitive set into easy-to-understand reports.

Make your presentation as compelling as possible. Prepare a clean, uncluttered, well-designed deck to supplement the verbal briefing. If appropriate, augment with visuals, video and any other special effects that allow you to tell the story most effectively.  Also important, you are there to share insight, not just input. In order to become a valuable resource to the analyst, you’ll want to provide a thorough briefing about a product or service but go further by offering an informed perspective on industry trends and competitive moves. Some companies don’t like to acknowledge competitors, or offer opinions or intelligence on rivals, but, analysts are usually covering entire industries, not single products.

Offer up media opportunities, where appropriate.  Most tech-industry analysts are eager to burnish their own reputations and are happy to be quoted by the media. Typically, they will also return the favor if the information you provide is useful or if it helps characterize trends within an industry or sector. The savvy analyst is hyper-conscious of the quotes he may generate in the press — top firms value media exposure because it helps generate increased credibility and business. Certain analysts like Gartner’s Brian Blau feature heavily in the press, sometimes as often as two major stories in one day. Analysts are quoted in 1 in every 9 technology-related stories, so their influence is clear. But beware, some analysts are too media-hungry, going out with predictions that do your B2B tech company no favors.

Nurture and maintain the relationships.  Good analyst relations can help a new tech player leapfrog to the head of the list and gain the attention of industry leaders, the media, and the competition. Poor analyst relations can result in good technology being ignored while less promising products gain visibility and market share. Therefore, it’s important to work with analysts in a mutually supportive manner, respecting their time and expertise and sticking to promises and deadlines, just as PRs nurtures relationships with journalists.

Industry analysts trade in information, so become that go-to source that provides “news you can use” to your key analyst contacts. It will be a two-way street, as journalists may request the names of analysts who can comment on a company’s products and strategies. The upfront investment of time and resources can pay big dividends down the road.

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