The buzz about analyst relations continues to increase. After a few difficult years from 2004 to 2007, we’ve seen the influencer and impact of analysts grow year after year. Even viewed in the simplest terms, like how often the phrase “analyst relations” gets mentioned in industry news and regulatory filings, the consistent growth is astonishing. AR is now mentioned more than a thousand times a year by the top-tier media tracked by Factiva.
In contrast “influencer relations”, which has never registered more than 75 hits, has fallen year after year this decade.
There’s no secret to this, as I explained in an interview with the Investor’s Business Daily a few months ago. The demand for analyst-driven market research continues to increase, and the analyst firms revenues grow accordingly.More effective account management is a major part of that. Take Gartner for example. Traditionally, Gartner had one contract — in effect, one salesperson — servicing each of its major accounts. Now firms have multiple salespeople, and multiple services which configure Gartner’s research differently.
As a paradigm, influencer relations has some powerful challenges to traditional AR. Everyone knows that there are other influencers, and influencer relations promised a structured way to address them. If Factiva is a good guide, influencer relations seems to have passed its peak. It looks set to remain a niche activity: I just searched LinkedIn and found fewer than 1,000 profiles mentioning IR, compared to almost 20,000 for AR.
How did AR beat back the challenge of IR? I think it didn’t. I think IR ran out of steam for the same reason that analyst influence moved forward: marketing.
Non-analyst influencers are certainly important, but they lack the sales people, public relations professionals and marketing support that help amplify analysts. Blogger and industry experts might have a lot to say, but analysts have a huge resource to help them reach a larger audience.
That’s why analysts continue to be at the top of the influence food chain and why analyst relations will continue to be a core communications function for B2B solution providers.