AR & recession – Reconsidering analyst contract priorities

icon-budget-cuts-105w.jpgControlling spending is a high priority for most vendors during a recession. For analyst relations (AR) teams this mandate causes angst because it means cutting spending with analyst firms, usually a big part of AR’s budget. Discussing this issue has become an increasingly common inquiry for SageCircle strategists as clients work through budget cutting scenarios. 

One of the main sources of anxiety is the perception that analysts will start bad mouthing the vendor to prospects, making negative comments in the press, and cutting off AR’s ability to brief the analysts. This is usually an overblown concern as reputable firms will not damage their standing with vendors – a significant source of information and market insights – over short term contract spending changes. Analysts at the largest firms often do not know the size of a vendor’s contract with the firm and will not notice if the vendor cuts the contract by some percentage.

Unfortunately, there will be individuals who do resort to threats and making overtly negative comments about vendors in the press as pressure tactics to get contracts. Typically these individuals are […]

Responding to Analysts’ Published Comments – Speed is Essential

As pointed out in past posts (see The Volume of Analyst Publishing and Quotes), analyst opinions show up in published format thousands of times each month. Unfortunately, too many AR teams are behind their colleagues in knowing when the analysts are being quoted or published. This lag can result in a CEO being embarrassed by a reporter or by a financial analyst who asks the CEO’s position on an IT industry analyst’s opinion. Another example is a sales deal gone awry because the company’s sales representative did not know that a relevant industry analyst had published a negative research note, or that his company was not on the Leaders Square of a Magic Quadrant.

The way to avoid these types of situations is for AR to know first when any Tier 1 analyst ends up in print. That way AR can prepare colleagues instead of responding to their pain. Too often, AR either ignores this requirement or does something ineffectual. Some AR departments subscribe to alerts that the analyst firms’ research engines have, but never look at the daily e-mails that are generated. Other AR departments buy a clipping service to get analyst press quotes.  However, because these services typically have a delay of one to two months between the original publication and their report delivery, clipping services simply are not timely enough for effective response.

SageCircle recommends that AR put into place a program for daily monitoring of analysts’ opinions. What need to be monitored are specific analyst opinions, not just […]

AR & recession – briefings need to focus on customers and fast business results

Analyst Relations PlanningBesides refocusing their priorities and activities during a recession, analyst relations (AR) professionals also need to think about what they are telling the analysts. Ordinarily briefings can cover any of a number of topics with even more numerous proof points to support their key messages. However, during a recession AR teams should be rethinking what they communicate to the analysts. 

SageCircle research of how IT managers use industry analysts, reveals that helping them make the business case for a technology product or service purchase is high on their list of activities. This insight provides AR with the direction they should taking their briefings during a recession. Because enterprise executives become cautious during a recession, they demand a more detailed justification for technology purchases. By giving industry analysts customer success stories and hard return on investment (ROI) numbers, AR can provide the analysts with fodder that they can in turn give to IT managers that will help shorten the sales cycles.

While customer success stories have always been considered a high priority topic for vendors to provide analysts, because they are difficult to obtain they frequently get pushed to the back burner.  During a recession AR needs to make finding and communicating customer success stories a much higher, if not the highest, priority. This becomes part of AR’s strategy of refocusing its priorities during a recession.

A critical success factor is to focus attention on examples of […]

Defining “Analyst Editorial Calendar”

n:  A calendar listing anticipated analyst research report publication dates. Because few analyst firms do publish formal editorial calendars, comprehensive Analyst Editorial Calendars have to be built by the core AR team. A variety of intelligence sources are used to gather information for the calendar.  These include holding formal and information conversations with analysts by the extended AR team, asking questions during scheduled interactions, analyzing past research publications, and anticipating work for upcoming conferences. The Analyst Editorial Calendar feeds into […]

AR & recession – it’s about refocusing priorities and activities

Analyst Relations PlanningRecessions typically change technology and telecommunications vendors’ priorities and activities. One of the most common changes is to cut back on marketing, especially brand building and other “fluffy” activities, to reduce expenses. At the same time, there is more emphasis on selling, especially for those vendors that sell direct to large enterprises. Another change is to focus on core markets and reduce effort in secondary markets. There are several dangers for analyst relations (AR) programs in economic downturns: 

  1. AR is associated with “fluffy” marketing and subject to headcount and budget cuts
  2. AR is not closely associated with driving revenues
  3. AR’s priorities become out-of-sync with new corporate or business unit priorities
  4. AR is executing its original plan (or typical activities if there was no plan)
  5. AR is reporting metrics that do not seem relevant to executives

If AR is to avoid been the target of budget and headcount cuts is it critical to ensure that it is aligned with corporate priorities and demonstrating positive economic contributions. While this seems obvious, too many AR programs are so caught up in reactive mode or simply doing normal day-to-day tasks that they don’t see the danger forming. As a consequence, these programs have a greater likelihood of getting cut than those AR managers and teams that proactively or preemptively move to change their focus.

When AR programs are considering what has to change during a recession they should remember to work and spend differently. Only doing one is not […]

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 […]