Stop playing Whac-a-mole by moving from firefighting and reactive to proactive and preemptive

Analyst Relations PlanningToo many analyst relations (AR) professionals spend too much of their time seemingly playing Whac-A-Mole. They rush from one emergency to another, respond to one request after another (from colleagues and analysts), and always seem to be in catch-up mode. The problem with this state is that AR gets in the rut of being tactical and does not have time to be strategic. Thus, the image of AR merely being meeting schedulers gets ingrained in the company. 

To get out of the firefighting/reactive rut, AR should focus on becoming proactive and eventually preemptive. Firefighting-Reactive-Proactive-Preemptive are what SageCircle calls styles of AR. A quick set of definitions are:

Firefighting: The firefighting style of AR is one where a vendor deals with the impact of analysts as opposed to dealing directly with the analysts. Typically, the vendor’s sales force is trying to do damage control because analysts’ research either ignores the vendor or gives the vendor a very negative description or rating. A vendor with a firefighting approach, because they do not interact with the analysts themselves, is doomed to be defined by the uninformed analyst. This allows the vendor to be characterized by the disgruntled customers, competitors, prospects, and partners who do interact with the analysts. Often a vendor in permanent firefighting style is there because it really does not have an AR program and maybe not even a real PR organization.

Reactive: The reactive style of AR is one where a vendor answers questions initiated by the IT analysts, but does not actively reach out to IT analysts. Because the IT analysts do not necessarily contact every vendor for every piece of research they publish, vendors are constantly fighting ratings and recommendations based on old information. In addition, AR is reacting to […]

Is it time to incorporate risk analysis into analyst list rankings?

Analyst Relations PlanningEvery AR team needs to manage their analyst list(s) to ensure they are focused on providing the right attention to the right analysts.  SageCircle stands on the “analyst list management” soapbox a lot because it such an important aspect of an effective and efficient AR program.  Creating a ranked list based on impact and then tiering based on available resources is the way to manage your service levels for analysts and ultimately manage your stress. There are many data points that go into an analyst ranking frameworks like visibility, research coverage, reputation, firm, geography and so on. This post is the opener for a discussion on whether risk should be added to the ranking criteria.

In this context, the risk being discussed is the potential damage to sales deals, market perception, internal politics, and such that can be caused by an analyst with a negative opinion. How much effort should you put into negative analysts?

So, should risk be incorporated into the analyst ranking framework as either a primary or secondary criterion? For instance, two analysts that are pretty much equal in all other criteria could see a negative analyst getting ranked higher than a positive analyst because there is more risk associated with the negative analyst and AR wants to invest more time to move that analyst’s opinion. If the two analysts are on the border between Tier 1 and Tier 2 […]

It’s in the AR plan – social media should not be considered “special,” but just a regular activity

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWe have written on a number of occasions that social media is not some big special deal, but rather just another tool in the analyst and analyst relations (AR) tool box. For that reason, there should not be some special plan for social plan with all sorts of meetings and review sessions set up. Rather social media should just be incorporated into daily activities and your AR Strategic and Tactical Plan.

You do have an AR plan, don’t you?

Your strategic AR plan, the one with the charter and objectives, lists of all interactions types to be used for each purpose, service levels by analyst tier, calendar and priorities? Ok, unfair question. Many AR teams are so under the gun that a well-done AR plan is often considered a luxury. The main point is that social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, communities, LinkedIn and so on) should not be considered something big and special – which means they won’t be embraced until the “plan is ready” – but merely just additional forms of interactions to add to the mix.

Obviously, the various types of social media are still new to many individuals and AR teams. As a consequence, there is a learning curve to climb and a process you will need to go through to adopt these new forms of interactions. However, social media are not “special,” just like e-mail is not special. Oh, those folks that have been around for awhile will no doubt remember when there was heated debate whether e-mail was an appropriate form of interaction with analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Educate yourself about social media, including setting up accounts and playing with various types
  • Review which of your analysts are currently using […]

AR belongs in Marketing – a dead idea

Analyst Relations PlanningPublic policy wonk and Fortune Magazine columnist Matt Miller’s new book The Tyranny of Dead Ideas: Letting Go of the Old Ways of Thinking to Unleash a New Prosperity got us at SageCircle thinking “Hmm, are there dead ideas holding back analyst relations?” Of course there are! This is one in an occasional series of posts that will address the dead ideas that impact AR programs and their ability to delivery strategic value to their companies. These posts are meant to be provocative and not necessarily definitive in their new ideas and suggestions.

Dead Idea: AR belongs in Marketing

Back Story: In the time before there was a dedicated AR position, industry analysts calling vendors asking for a briefing were often bounced around from one department to another. More often than not, the analyst would end up on the public relations doorstep because what the analyst did sort of sounded like a reporter. Because PR usually reported to Marketing, AR became a de facto marketing function even if it became an independent department.

Problem: Putting AR in Marketing has multiple problems, but a big one is consistency. One of AR’s critical success factors is consistently interacting with analysts because influencing the analysts is a process that takes a long time. AR cannot turn on and turn off interactions and be successful. Unfortunately, Marketing programs in most vendors are the model of inconsistency with resources being changed frequently.  If resources and programs are cut during recessions and restored during good times the damage for AR has been done in terms of:

  • Institutional memory is lost as AR staff gets cut or moves to other companies 
  • Relationships with analysts go stale due to lack of interactions or the inability to work with the same people
  • Sales and revenues are impacted by analysts with outdated or incomplete information providing inappropriate advice to customers and prospects
  • Intelligence dries up about analyst opinions and intentions because analyst contracts get cut reducing inquiry access to analysts

New Idea: Move AR out of Marketing and into Strategy. While there are several different options for a new home for AR (e.g., sales, product management and investor relations) each have their own issues. Strategy on the other hand has a number of advantages […]

Creating an Analyst Editorial Calendar

Analyst Relations PlanningAnalyst relations (AR) teams that are building their AR Strategic & Tactical Plan need to have insights into what critical analysts are planning to publish over the next few months. Knowing what an analyst is going to publish is an important planning trigger that helps AR teams be analyst centric, not company centric.

In other posts (see Responding to Analysts’ Published Comments – Speed is Essential), we have discussed responding to analyst research or rebutting their positions. An unfortunate fact is that once analysts have publicly taken a stand on a subject, getting them to change is much more difficult. On the other hand, if you start working with the analysts early in their research process, before anything has been published, it is much easier to influence the outcome and perhaps eliminate the need to rebut something that already has been printed.

An important tool for knowing what the analysts are working on is the Analyst Editorial Calendar.

An Analyst Editorial Calendar is a listing of anticipated analyst research report publication dates. Because analyst firms typically do not publish formal and complete editorial calendars, comprehensive Analyst Editorial Calendars have to be built by the core AR team. To create an Analyst Editorial Calendar, AR teams attempt to map out all […]