Credo 5: AR should put analysts’ needs before firm structure

We’re now half-way through our Credo series, which outlines the principles we seek to convince AR managers to share. Our fifth credo is the notion that analyst relations teams should be organized around the information needs of industry analysts, rather than being driven by firm structures.

The first four principles discuss various forms of the alignment of analysts relations with the organisation’s marketing and messaging, and that’s an area where there’s broad support. Our fifth credo perhaps brings us to the point where we come to the notions that are less well understood by the internal stakeholders who fund and support analyst relations.

While vendor-funded analyst firms are able to have a tight division of labour between product, service and market segments, the reality is that the market is tightly integrated. Buyer increasing buy across silos, and that means that analysts need to advise across them. That is also reflected by the move towards role-based research at Gartner, Forrester and elsewhere. Firms that integrate sales across business areas have to be especially quick to ensure that analyst relations is integrated rather than divided.

This integration is especially important because of the increasingly comprehensive interests of analysts, and the ever-growing interest in corporate and market topics, such as segmentation, strategy and governance. As a result, each analyst needs a single point of contact what can integrate across the corporation’s different products, services and business units.

Of course there is a substantial counter-weight against such a development. Where the funding for AR comes from the silos, or is largely controlled there, the temptation is to root AR managers in the functions, and to under-resource a central, one-company, viewpoint. The result is fragmented and uneven AR, in which spokespeople struggle to relate their business to the rest of the company and to the wider market.

Of course this integration is harder for the AR manager, and requires them to develop a better understanding of their business. Some AR teams use the irrational defence of pretending that they are simple logistics managers: that they move documents and spokespeople between analysts and the business, but have no influence on how the organisation explains itself. Such routine-loving disengagement is ineffective, and often reflects difficult internal politics.

AR needs to overcome those difficulties, and top-level executives focussed on sales and profitability are key influencer. They are amongst the best people who also understand that this integrated AR is also more relationship-oriented and resource-intensive. And that brings us to the sixth credo: that the scope of analysts relations drives the need for human resources.

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