At the crossroads: AR must help close the loop

The chart below illustrates the very uneven recovery from 2008’s decline in hiring of AR, IR and other marketing professionals. During 2009 and 2010 we have seen a modest growth in the proportion of vacancies asking for analyst relations skills, currently up 4%. ‘Along the corridor’, in public relations and investor relations, there was a smaller decline and a faster return to a stable plateau.  Although influencer relations jobs are up 264%, the chart shows that they are very few. But upstairs in marketing, there is 35% growth while advertising is up 48%. Closer to home, social media jobs are up 77%.

These data show the US job market, but the overall trend will be similar around the world. It’s important that AR people understand what these changes mean, and how to relate to them. Analyst relations is at a crossroads, and in the next few posts we discuss the opportunity facing the AR community.

Influencer Relations, Social Media, Analyst Relations, Investor Relations trends

Influencer Relations, Social Media, Analyst Relations, Investor Relations trends 

These data suggest that US firms are taking advantage of improved business conditions to invest in areas that are associated with business growth. AR, PR and IR are, generally, not seeing substantial growth. Social media can grow from a low base (as influencer relations jobs have done) but now social media hiring have overtaken AR and is three times higher.

As companies recover from the recession, demand generation is seen as key in driving up the value of business your firm has in the pipeline. Of course, that is just one element of sales and marketing process. However, PR, IR and AR are still, in most firms, tools for building awareness and interest. What marketing can do more broadly is to use both offline and online channels to link up awareness to sales. In Lighthouse’s opinion, it’s very useful to look at this in terms of control theory ideas like the closed loop, where feedback changes what the system is doing.

At the simplest level, you can close the loop in AR. By evaluating the outcomes of your activity, rather than just the volume of activity, you can use measurement and report to change both your AR tactics and how broader marketing campaign are done.  Of course the ideal is that AR and other activities can be tied back to lead generation and sales: However even small connections can be step forward for AR teams that are misunderstood as awareness-building rather than sales support.

There’s a lot that AR people have a huge opportunity with social media, and that’s something we discuss in our next post.

Duncan Chapple

Duncan Chapple is the preeminent consultant on optimising international analyst relations and the value created by analyst firms. As SageCircle research director, Chapple directs programs that assess and increase the business value of relationships with industry analysts and sourcing advisors.

There are 3 comments on this post
  1. August 19, 2010, 9:04 am

    […] has a great opportunity” to close the social media loop, Jonny Bentwood told us this week. As the strategy guru at Edelman responsible for social media and […]

  2. August 27, 2010, 2:22 pm

    I think what has changed is not AR but the fact that social media is a mainstream platform for content/opnion distribution and influence. I don’t think we are at a cross roads, the train left a while back. I remember being introduced to Twitter but Dominic Pannel two years ago. What is interesting is the measurement and evaluation stuff – hats off to Jonny Bentwood for this one.

    What it does mean is that AR is as exciting as ever.

    When I get the chance I will be blogging about how I think social media has impacted AR. I know blogging – how old hat is that!

  3. September 09, 2010, 9:35 am

    […] a lot of work to raise the visibility of the function but there’s still lots more work to do to close the loop and use social media catch up with the social media […]