Most B2B technology companies and the PR agencies who represent them understand the value of industry analysts as part of a strong PR program. Journalists often look to analysts to confirm trends, deliver insights, and add quotes and credibility to their profiles of key industries. Cultivating analyst relationships over the long term can result in positive coverage in the trade press, and many are influential with general business media as well. Some top tech companies actually consider analyst relations more important than media relations.
Yet AR is sometimes an afterthought for companies who can’t afford pricey subscriptions, or who are purely focused on earned media visibility.
That shouldn’t be the case. Even without a paid relationship with key analysts, a long-term commitment to analyst relations can pay off for any company in an important industry or an emerging category.
Analyst meetings require a level of preparation and planning similar to those with journalists, but they aren’t out for news. They’re more interested in depth of knowledge about an industry or niche, identifying trends, and placing an entire competitive set into context for their reports.
The good news is that most tech-industry analysts are eager to keep a high profile; they want to be quoted in the press and will sometimes return the favor if the information is useful or if it helps characterize trends within an industry or sector.
Involve the analyst(s) early. It’s not always necessary to wait until just before a new product launch to arrange meetings with key analysts. For one thing, their schedules often book weeks or months in advance. More importantly, a good analyst relationship is a give and take. A top analyst can be a source of feedback on how you plan to position your offering as well as the competitive space overall.
Respect their expertise. The typical industry analyst is a true expert in your category, so expect a sophisticated understanding of the space, and don’t waste time with an industry overview. Even if you think your business is unique, assume the analyst is familiar.
Take the time to prepare for analyst meetings. A good PR consultant will research the individual analyst and his company for you, but it’s also important to prepare the content and think through answers to questions as you would for a journalist meeting. Make sure all internal experts are present for the call or meeting and that they know what to expect. Don’t run long, and make sure your presentation allows time for questions.
Share insight, not just input. You’ll want to do a thorough job of briefing the analyst about a product or service update, but you can be an even more valuable resource by offering an informed perspective on industry trends and competitive moves. Some companies don’t like to admit they have competitors, or they’re afraid to offer opinions or intelligence on rivals, but, remember, most analysts are paid to cover entire industries, not a category of one.
Go niche. If meetings with the big guys like Forrester and Gartner can’t be scheduled right away, look at smaller analyst firms that have a hyperfocus in your area. They are often very influential and the depth of specialist expertise can make up for the lack of scale. Most B2B marketing technology categories, for example, are followed by at least one niched analyst who is enormously knowledgeable about the space. These individuals can influence customers, journalists, and even other analysts.
Try to meet in person. This isn’t always possible, but a real sit-down beats a phone or skype briefing. It’s easier to get into greater depth, and you have a stronger chance of building a long-term relationship. An industry conference is usually a great opportunity to schedule analyst meetings that would otherwise be over the phone.
Use visuals. Particularly if your analyst discussion deals in technical matters or explains a complex or emerging issue, make use of an uncluttered, well-designed deck to supplement the verbal briefing.
Stay in touch. It’s best to look at analyst relations as a long-term asset, and one that is mutually beneficial. Maintain the relationship by reaching out periodically with industry insights, important news, or observations about shifts or competitive moves. You can also ask for opinions and insights in return. A top analyst can be a terrific contact and a career-long resource.