Cliff Maroney February 9, 2021 | 08:46:47
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The Art Of Analyst Relations: A PR POV

Media relations is a huge part of any PR program, given the third-party validation that comes with earned media. But for B2B companies — particularly in the technology space — sometimes the best way to get in front of a key audience isn’t just with trade and business press, but through industry analyst reports that influence media and customers.

Industry analyst relations (AR) can be a foundation for lead generation. And much like media relations, there are nuances involved. Understanding the art of AR is critical to building relationships with these influencers. With that in mind, here are a few things B2B companies need to know when it comes to AR.

Who are analysts?

Analysts, including those who cover the technology sectors where our clients do business, tend to have very deep knowledge of their areas. Journalists often juggle beats and handle pressing deadlines on a daily basis; analysts, by contrast, are paid to do research and write in-depth reports that may take months. Many are previous practitioners, executives, or researchers in their chosen sectors. 

They typically follow narrow categories or subcategories, from Application Performance Management to Wired and Wireless LAN Access Infrastructure. Even within a sector like ad tech, a publication may have a journalist dedicated to the entire programmatic advertising beat, while an analyst house will have someone specifically dedicated to demand side platforms (DSPs) alone.

Analyst versus journalist end goals

While there may be overlap between the questions and approaches of journalists and analysts, their end goals are different. Both are looking for a better understanding of trends and developments within a given space. However, analysts are doing so as a way to build research reports for buyers, while journalists are collecting points of view and reporting trends for general reader knowledge. Therefore, a degree of self-promotion is warranted when we connect with analysts, whereas journalists generally eschew an overly commercial or promotional POV.

Differences between analyst and media briefings

Given the differences in purview, analyst briefings are far more granular than typical media briefings. For example, while media briefings may get into what a company does, analyst briefings are much more geared towards how it actually does it. Moreover, companies need to demonstrate to analysts why their products are actually superior to others in their category. An analyst briefing is usually an excellent opportunity to differentiate a company from its competition.

This is why we always recommend that clients present either an in-depth deck or a product demo as part of an analyst briefing. It’s useful to have an informal script to ensure that the company representative is hitting all the key points and differentiators. A deck is also a useful “takeaway” for reference when an analyst drafts a report.

Navigating the pay-to-play landscape

One of the biggest differences between analyst relations and media relations is the pay-to-play nature of the analyst firm business model. A paid “partnership” allows for more frequent briefings, more in-depth coverage, analyst participation in company webinars and other various perks. Yet those organizations who lack an AR budget can still have a successful relationship with an analyst. Access is more limited for non-paying partners, so you need to make each interaction count. This means connecting with the right analyst and having a finely tuned presentation that will make an impact.

Additionally, PR teams need to get creative about staying top-of-mind with analysts. By sending over one-off monthly company updates or setting up off-the-record conversations companies can circumvent the pay-to-play landscape and build long-term analyst relationships that will result in valuable earned coverage in industry reports.

How PR and AR work together

We think of analyst reports as great prospecting tools for B2B tech companies, because they are. This is particularly true in complex and expensive categories like SaaS, ad tech, cybersecurity and AI. A relevant analyst report can save a business customer valuable time in researching a company-wide purchase. But major analyst reports like Gartner’s Magic Quadrants, for example, are also influential for journalists who cover those categories. That’s why PR teams work hard to prepare clients for analyst meetings and to promote positive reports after they’re published. 

Don’t forget the up-and-comers

Most PR people are familiar with the well recognized analyst firms like Gartner, Forrester,  and IDC, and others. But it pays to research emerging analyst companies and those niche and up-and-coming firms such as Ovum, 451 and Ventana, that have a relevant orientation. A report from a highly specialized analyst firm can have a big impact, so smart PR teams will track all players and reach out well in advance of the publication of key reports.  

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