AR Classics: Paul Allen on EMEA analysts’ perspective

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In Q1 and Q2 2005, Paul Allen conducted research with 50 EMEA analysts across the leading analyst houses into exactly what they thought of both technology vendors and PR/AR agencies. Back then Paul and I were working from the Lighthouse & Rainier office in Palladium House. Paul found that agencies have much to learn about delivering analyst relations programmes to best meet the needs of their clients and the analyst community.

Analyst relations…the analysts’ perspective

Do you know the best way to do analyst relations (AR)? Research reveals that more than half of the PR agencies in the UK leave EMEA analysts dissatified. This paper provides top tips to ensure agencies make the most of AR.

It has taken some time, but people have finally come round to the fact that analyst relations is a powerful communications medium. Completely different from journalists, analysts hold great influence over the IT investment process. Selling complex technology to complex organisations is a recipe for a lengthy, expensive sales process.

Most vendors would accept on the spot if offered to be introduced into more sales opportunities, shorten the sales process and stand a higher chance of success at the end of it. Yet that is the potential of a successful industry analyst relations programme. A Kensington study (2003) has found that industry analyst groups influence between 40% and 60% of commercial technology sales, so it is important to not only do analyst relations, but to do it well.

But are people doing it well? We asked 50 EMEA analysts their thoughts on what communications professionals and vendors could do better. When it came to the quality of PR agencies that analysts deal with 56 per cent said that PR agencies have only an adequate understanding of their needs and 88 per cent said that that level of quality is not getting any better. There is obviously no single way of running an AR programme, with every company needing a tailored solution to suit its culture, different AR needs and different resources available. However, there are certain basics that are essential to meeting analysts’ requirements effectively. We have broken these down into three main areas – arranging meetings, the meeting itself and following-up – and provided the top five tips (as suggested by the analysts surveyed) to make the process go as smooth as possible.

Arranging meetings

So, you are about to embark on an AR programme for your client. The first thing to do is research which analysts are likely to be interested in a meeting. An obvious first step, but the analysts surveyed complained of being offered meetings with vendors that fall completely out of their areas of interest – hardly the best way to introduce yourself and your client to that particular analyst.

Most analyst houses have a co-ordinator that arranges meetings. Always use them unless you are told otherwise or have built a relationship with an analyst that allows you to bypass this. The co-ordinators are there for a reason and going directly helps you target the correct analyst more effectively if that information is not available on the web site.

The five most common tips when arranging meetings were as follows:

“Know the interests of the analyst and research their areas of expertise beforehand.”
“Make sure there is a fit between the analyst’s areas of interest, and what your client does.”
“Go through the briefing booking process with the co-ordinator.”
“Don’t be pushy trying to get dates that work for the client’s schedule but not the analyst’s.”
“Make sure any materials are sent through in good time ahead of the call/meeting, NOT a half an hour before!”

The meeting itself

Your meeting is arranged, so attention now turns to the content of your presentation, the spokesperson and delivery. This is the area that was the greatest source of annoyance to analysts. Complaints varied from PR people interrupting and questions not being answered to a lack of seniority in the spokespeople and too much sales driven talk in the actual presentation.

Any presentation given should be put together to best address your audience and meeting analysts is no exception. Analysts are not potential customers and neither are they journalists, so PR people should ensure that their clients’ presentations reflect this and that the spokesperson is correctly briefed so in a position to answer any questions that may arise.

The top five tips that came up surrounding the meeting itself were as follows:

“Give the analyst plenty of opportunity to ask questions.”
“Make sure the client knows the subject and isn’t just making a sales pitch – too many vendors have a canned presentation.”
“Ensure the vendor does not waste time ‘scene setting’.”
“Be candid – its fine if there are things you can’t reveal, but bring what information you can and acknowledge any gaps.”
“Stick to time – an hour for a briefing means exactly that!”

Following up

The meeting is over, but the work of a PR agency is not. One thing that cropped up time and time again in our research is the lack of responsiveness once a briefing has taken place. Many things may have come up in the meeting so it is vital to follow-up in the correct fashion, ensuring that there is nothing else that the analyst requires.

Also, a successful AR programme does not consist of one isolated meeting, with no interaction until you next wish to brief an analyst. Analysts cited as a major annoyance the fact that vendors are happy to meet with them when they have something to discuss, but when the analysts go to them for a meeting to do with a particular report they might be writing, the vendors are much less forthcoming.

The top five tips offered around following-up a meeting are as follows:

“Always follow-up with a call or an email.”
“Take a proper note of action points.”
“Be responsive – no-one likes having to continually chase outstanding information.”
“Be prepared to offer a customer if required.”
“Don’t ask for stupid feedback forms to be filled!”

Conclusion

This was not intended to be a cut out and keep guide to analyst relations – there is obviously far more to it than can be captured in a single white paper – rather it is to show that amongst all the PR agency talk about the best way to do analyst relations, the analysts’ perspective needs to be considered.

Many of the points they raised might seem obvious but it is apparent that many PR agencies are not getting the basics right. Indeed, 70 per cent of analysts surveyed felt that they get a better service from agencies that have a dedicated analyst relations division, something that Rainier PR is happy to address.

The value of analyst relations is not in dispute but, for such an important and valuable part of the communications mix, surely the opinions of the analysts themselves needs to be taken on board to deliver the best programmes possible for clients?

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