How to get a briefing at Forrester

The best way to get a briefing is be right square in the middle of an analyst’s current research stream. In general, I won’t take a briefing unless I plan to use the information within the next three months.

Charlene Li

Preface: In 2009 we cited this article as one of the most useful articles by analysts with tips on Analyst Relations. Over the decade since then, the article’s fallen offline. In 2020, when we started the research for our book, we asked the author’s permission to cite it. To help readers see the analyst’s comments in context, we reprint it below. Charlene Li is now a senior fellow at Altimeter.


Something I get asked quite frequently is how a company goes about getting a briefing with Forrester and I promised I’d put up a post on how to do this. So at the risk of opening up the briefing request floodgates, here are a few details.

Requesting a briefing
By far the best way to request a briefing is to fill out the request form at www.forrester.com/briefings. The more specifics you can provide, the better — this way, our Briefing Central team can figure out who the best analysts are for you to brief.

Some of you may think, hey, I’ll just email the analyst directly. There are a couple of reasons why this isn’t always a good idea. First, you’re relying on the analyst to have their act together and be able to respond to your request. On average, I get between 20-30 requests a week for briefings and if they don’t come from our Briefing Central team, a few are bound to slip between the inbox cracks. Second, you run the risk that you’re not briefing the right analysts. For example, my colleague Brian Haven covers online video so he’ll want to hear about developments in that space.

Actually getting a briefing
Now, just because you request a briefing doesn’t mean you get one! And please note, you don’t have to be a Forrester client to get a briefing – I accept briefings based on the merits of the request. The best way to get a briefing is be right square in the middle of an analyst’s current research stream. In general, I won’t take a briefing unless I plan to use the information within the next three months. And there are times when I would like to get a briefing, but my calendar is full (in which case, I usually ask for information via email). So look at my current research at Forrester, read this blog (which you’re already doing), and do a search for topics I’ve commented on.

How to have a good briefing
One suggestion on making the most of a briefing — I have little time and little patience for what I call “background”. You can assume that I’m pretty up to speed on the space! To this end, I tend to schedule 30 minute briefings and it’s worked well. It forces the company to cut to the chase and give me the most important things that I want to know, which boil down to:

– What problem are you solving?
– How do you create value for the user?
– How do you make money?
– How do you differentiate yourself from the competition?
– How will you market your product/service?
– What is your vision of how the market will develop, and how will you fit into it?

And my pet peeve: companies that show up at briefings and start by saying, “So, what do you want to know?” My hope is that with the short list of questions above, you’ll be well prepared to make the best use of your 30 minutes!

Disclaimer: these are thoughts are my own and other Forrester analysts will and do handle briefings in completely different ways.

Update: My friend, former Gartner analyst, and now CEO of EZBoard Rob Labatt suggested a very worthwhile addition to my list of what makes a successful briefing: “Make the analyst smarter”. One commonality to what I consider great briefings is that I come out of them thinking differently. So share your vision of how the world is changing and how your company is going to make a difference.

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