When Ed Gyurko first approached industry analysts as a marketer for the technology company he then worked for, he did it all wrong. He says, “I mistakenly thought that that industry analyst relations were just like media relations. I thought, ‘Well, ok I’ll make a few calls.'”
Although you need to handle them very differently, analyst relations absolutely affect media relations because journalists constantly turn to analysts at Gartner, Forrester, IDC, and other firms for independent third party quotes.
1. Start with an In-Person Analyst-CEO Meeting
You cannot impress analysts by peppering them with press releases, phone calls and Webinar invitations. A strong analyst-company relationship almost always requires an initial in-person meeting. “Chemistry is critical.” Gyurko’s advice for your in-person meeting:
Never schedule your analyst meetings and press tour together.
If an analyst has any objections to your business plan, product, or service (and they will probably have at least one because a big part of their job is to find problems and suggest solutions), you’ll need time to address these concerns before letting the press know that they can get a quote from an analyst.
Gyurko explains, “For example, after you meet with the analysts at Forrester, you go on to Fast Company and the journalists ask who else you’re meeting with. Your CEO’s so excited that he says, ‘We just met with Forrester,’ and sure enough that journalist is going to go to Forrester looking for a negative quote. Negative stuff is great copy, it helps them sell papers.”
He advises that you talk to analysts at first under NDA (non-disclosure agreement) and then, after making any adjustments needed to either your plan or your media message, let the press call analysts.
Cultivate multiple analyst relationships “The biggest myths about analysts is to say, ‘We met with an influential analyst and we’re covered,'” Gyurko says. “A lot of times you need to meet with multiple analysts, and often multiple analysts at one firm. For example if you are an ASP telecom company with an international partner, that’s three different divisions at IDC.”
Gartner Group has more than 800 analysts, and no you cannot count on the one you met with to spend their time fully informing the rest about you. That is your job.
It is easy to figure out which analysts to meet with — simply surf news sites and news databases looking for articles relating to your product, service or marketplace, and track which analysts are quoted.
Keep your PowerPoint slides to a minimum. The first time you meet with an analyst, you will probably only get a half hour. Do not waste the time with endless slides. Gyurko suggests you only use 3-5 slides at maximum.
Your slides should feature in-house research such as customer survey results (not research numbers from the analysts themselves, or heaven forbid their competitors), product details, estimated finances, customer breakdowns, and marketing plans. You do not need to worry about impressing the analyst with market size figures — it is their job to know that data already.
Be sure that everything on the slides including timelines is something you definitely can meet — analysts will watch you carefully over the next time period to see if you live up to those initial promises. You will destroy their faith in you by over promising and under delivering.
Ask analysts for partnership and customer suggestions.
Analysts can be your best allies when seeking marketing and strategic partnerships. Definitely ask for their input and possible introductions on this front during your half hour.
Gyurko says, “In almost every briefing I’ve had, the analyst will say ‘Some of my clients are people you should meet with’ or they’ve recommended customers or suggested partners. It becomes a new business meeting.”
Ask analysts for wording suggestions to describe your product.
While analysts are not professional copywriters, their input can help your marketing and advertising team tremendously because analysts have an eagle-eye view of how every other product or service on the marketplace is described. So, ask them if your Web site’s home page and product descriptions really are as clear as you think they are in describing how you are different from competitors. Often words and jargon you think sounds exciting is overused in the marketplace already.
2. Use Email & Webcasts for Effective Follow-Up
Once you have established an initial personal relationship, you can use email and Webcasts to follow up and maintain it. Tips:
Do not send analysts press releases. It is the analyst’s job to be ahead of the press. To examine and evaluate plans and achievements before they are called for an opinion on them. Some will consider it an insult that you send them releases at the same time as the press. Others will just toss them.
And, it is worth noting that any company that routinely calls analysts to say, ‘Did you get our release?’ will find itself on their blacklist. Gyurko says, “One analyst told me, ‘A PR pro called me so many times that I never wanted to meet with the company. They destroyed the relationship.'”
Send personal emails rather than mass emails. Analysts want to feel as though they have a one-to-one relationship with your CEO. So any email from you to them should be a personal note.
Like most people, analysts love to feel like their advice has been taken. So if they did make a suggestion, always follow up afterwards to let them know how things worked out. A quick email saying for example, ‘Thanks for that strategic partner introduction, we’re meeting with them on Thursday’, will do more to cement your relationship than almost anything else.
Only send large attached files by email if an analyst requests it. Like the press (and almost everybody else) analysts do not want to get fat attached files in their email from you. If you’ve got a white paper, long proposal, business plan, whatever, email them first to see if they’d like a copy.
Never invite the press and analysts to the same Webcast or teleconference if you can help it. Webcasts are a great way to keep analysts you already have personal relationships with up to date on product and business developments. However, Gyurko reminds everyone that the press is there to pick up quotes from analysts, while analysts are there to make honest criticisms and suggestions that you’d probably rather not have the press overhear without some damage control beforehand.
Even if 90% of the comments analysts make during your Webcast briefing are highly positive, the press will almost always pick up on that one little negative comment because they want to make their stories more ‘balanced’ and interesting.
3. Make Sure Your Web Site Appeals to Analysts
Analysts tend to surf Web sites in the same way that press do. They look at your press releases, your investor relations materials and company data under ‘about us.’ Make sure all of this content is kept up to date, especially if you are about to contact analysts for meetings (they will often go to your site before deciding whether you’re worth their time to meet with).
Once you have a good relationship with analysts, Gyurko suggests giving them password-protected access to your extranet, where they will be able to see confidential materials such as product launch, partnership, marketing and marketplace data. It makes them feel like insiders, which in turn strengthens your relationship with them.
One note however, analysts do switch jobs, often moving client-side. So make sure you are able to switch off access quickly when you need to.