While blogs have been around for a number of years, they are seldom used by communications and IT vendor analyst relations (AR) teams*. I have found only Adobe, Cisco, HP, IBM** and Sun. This is too bad because blogs can be a valuable tool for communicating certain types of information in a less formal manner.
Now it is important to realize that a blog is not the end all and be all of analyst interactions. For one thing, blogs are usually not password protected, so nothing remotely confidential can be the topic of a blog entry.
There are a number of reasons why AR has avoided blogs:
- The AR team cannot get permission to launch a blog because their company has not developed a blogging strategy and policy yet
- AR is simply overworked and cannot add another task
- AR perceives that it does not has the right skills to create blog content
- AR believes there is no demand for a blog because the analysts are not asking for one
- AR thinks there are not enough interesting topics for them to consistently blog
Items #1 and #2 are show stoppers. Items #3 and #4 are what I call chicken-and-egg issues. For instance, you can’t start a blog because you do not have the skills, but you cannot develop the skills unless you have a blog for experimenting. With item #4 it is possible the analysts are not asking for the blog… but will read it if there is interesting content. At my former employer I launched an AR blog even though the analysts were not asking for it. By the second month, I had over 1,700 visitors. Even though the analysts were not pounding on the door asking for a blog, they found it useful enough to visit and read.
Item #5 is to a lesser extent a chicken-and-egg situation as well. Until you have a blog to play with and track which entries get the most readers, you will not know what topics are of interest. In general there are many potential uses for an AR blog, including:
- Enhancing news – Blogs can be used to add analyst-centric context to an announcement as well as pulling together links to the most relevant company content and news reports
- Events – Rather than going through the effort of updating a portal, use the blog as a repository for video clips and presentation files
- Executives – An AR blog can be used as way to introduce an executive by going beyond their dry corporate biography and it gives the executive a platform to occasionally address the analysts
- Answer frequently asked questions and clear up frequently misunderstood issues – The blog can be an on-line FAQ, especially for analysts that do not receive personal attention by the AR team or by executives.
- Trends discussion and thought leadership – Blogs are perfect platforms to have your company’s domain experts discuss forward looking industry topics.
For a related topic, please see Adding Twitter or other micro blogging tools to the AR tool box
* There are blogs by AR professionals that are about AR or influence relations, but they are not about their employers (e.g., Everyday Influence by Don Bulmer).
** The IBM blog is actually the personal blog of John Simonds, an IBM AR team member. Beside the IBM AR content there is also non-work related content.
Set up a blog and start blogging. The best way to get comfortable is by blogging.
A critical success factor for any blog is promotion. For AR it is relatively easy, because there is a reasonably defined audience to go after, the analysts that you interact with from the top to the bottom of your analyst lists. This can be as simple as sending out the occasional e-mail with a reminder about the blog and adding the blog’s URL to your e-mail signature block and presentations.
Bottom Line: With the right attitude and approach, blogs can be relatively easy and not time consuming. Blogs can be a great way to deliver content to the so-called Tier 3 analysts – some of whom could end up being Tier 1 in the future. By providing them with content via a blog today you can lay the groundwork for a productive relationship in the future.
Analysts – What type of content would you find interesting?
AR teams – Are there other barriers to you starting a blog?
Are you thinking about experimenting with social media? SageCircle can Help – Social media represents new opportunities and challenges to AR teams. SageCircle can help AR teams by:
- Providing on-site or distance learning sessions to get AR teams up to speed on social media and how it might be adopted
- Acting as a sounding board as you brainstorm how to add social media to the AR tool box
- Advising on how to develop a pilot program to experiment with social media
- Playing the role of analyst in social media experiments and providing critiques of how the experiment went
SageCircle strategists understand your opportunities, challenges and priorities because we have been AR practitioners and executives as well as industry analysts and AR researchers. SageCircle emphasizes the use of phone-based inquiry through its Advisory Service, which is your lifeline when you need timely access to an AR and analyst expert to exploit an opportunity or mitigate a problem. Advisory is available through an annual “all you can eat” contract or blocks of two or five hours “by the drink.” Click here to learn more about our advisory services.
Call 650-274-8309 or e-mail info (at) sagecircle dot com for more information. Also follow Carter’s commentary www.twitter.com/carterlusher to get a feel for how information is now being transmitted using micro-blogging.