Analyst relations’ main problem isn’t about relating to analysts

It’s election time for the Industry of Industry Analyst Relations, the global organisation which represents the AR community and keeps an eye on standards (both the analysts’ and the AR community’s). The members are spoiled for choice in these elections: all of the candidates are experienced AR people with a huge amount to offer the community. However, as I was reminded in a discussion this week with some senior managers in the services business of a global telco, the challenge for AR often is not relating to analysts better, but relating to the rest of the organisation.

The AR community faces numerous challenges. The IIAR’s professional certification, white papers, forums and regular best practice calls give its members a real edge in understanding how to perfect analyst relations. But creating greater awareness of the value of analyst relations doesn’t arise from that automatically. AR teams need to raise awareness of analysts and of AR inside the business, especially in firms where the ‘buzz’ about social media is drowning out the message that analysts are still more influential than social media on big-ticket purchases of technology.

However, the AR community faces numerous challenges. Growing numbers of PR agencies are wising up to the need to get experiences AR people, often former analysts, to run their AR programmes. However, many firms have every tech PR manager doing AR (both in-house and in agencies). That’s a double challenge: the IIAR needs to reach out to a very wide community, and PR directors need to find more effective ways to develop the AR skills of their managers. It’s hard for the IIAR to helps because someone who’s doing analysts relations one day a month isn’t going to get as much value from full IIAR membership, but the IIAR has real costs and needs support.

Perhaps the biggest challenge is that the community of people funding AR is even broader and harder to educate. Analysts typically put out content rather than examples of the value their research created. That makes it hard for the AR community to get the raw material it needs to convince business leaders and corporate communications heads about the continuing value of AR.

After four years, the IIAR has developed a stable membership and made a huge contribution to the skills and effectiveness of its members, even those who knew a lot in the first place. But to take the next step, AR managers need to focus more on communicating the value of both analysts and analyst relations to those outside the profession.  That’s the best way to make AR more supported and understood, and thatleads in turn to better resources and more support for analysts and analyst relations managers.

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