ARcade » Uncategorized Weblog maintained by Hill+Knowlton Strategies\' global Analyst Relations team. Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 en hourly 1 The voice of reason: getting the analyst perspective on product and strategy messaging Wed, 30 Nov 2011 02:40:13 +0000 nadiahabibcoelho There are probably many marketing and communications professionals out there who at some point may have slapped their foreheads over lackluster responses to their company’s product or strategy roll-outs. Thoughts such as “Why didn’t it work? “, “We did everything by the book and yet there are still people complaining that they don’t get what we do” might have crossed their minds.

A key component of a product and strategy roll-outs involves message testing and market research with customers, partners and the media including engaging with internal stakeholders every step of the way. Yet despite these efforts there can be instances where the final message doesn’t resonate with target audiences by the time it goes to launch. Has this happened to you?

There might be several reasons why the messaging could have been off target but Hill & Knowlton has identified the top five as:

1. You didn’t care
2. You didn’t understand
3. You didn’t believe
4. You didn’t know how to apply it to the real world
5. It sounded like something a competitor was already saying

By involving some of the crucial stakeholders I highlighted above, there is one category that we have often found missing from the messaging testing mix – analysts. Which brings me to ask, how many of you thought about talking to a trusted analyst during the message testing process?

The analyst perspective during the messaging process can be vital in getting competitive intelligence. An analyst inquiry provides insights into not only what your competitors are saying or doing (which isn’t under NDA of course!) but the market’s reaction to a particular product at a particular time.

Analyst discussions at the planning stage of the messaging process means you get an advance preview of the business and economic trends that can impact the time you go to market. Most importantly it can also aid you in how you should structure your messaging and review who else is saying what you are planning on saying.

As many of you start planning and discussing strategy roll-outs for new products or messaging, I would recommend giving some thought to how you can involve your analyst teams and contacts in the process. Getting analysts to give you their perspective during this process is where you will get the most value during the planning and preparation stage.

Going to market with a message that rings true, is compelling and succinct are all crucial factors. But messages that provide a call to action and differentiate you from your competitors really indicate that your messaging has hit the mark. Without these factors, it might be too expensive an exercise and sometimes too late to go back to the drawing board.

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Is Analyst Relations a prisoner of its own success within the IT sector? Wed, 15 Sep 2010 18:44:18 +0000 Tris Clark Analyst Relations remains a relatively new practice within communications, but even during its formative years it seems to be going through an identity crisis. Every section of the communications industry has been challenged by the economic crisis that has beset the global economy, but none more so than AR. In the ferocious scrum for budget between advertising, PR, social media and AR it is by no means the case that AR has emerged as a number one priority for technology firms.

AR for PR, or AR for AR?

This is hardly surprising, whilst the case for AR (when it is done correctly) is compelling – strategic transformation, sourcing and consuming market intelligence to increase competitive advantage and of course influencing the sales cycle – too few within the communications industry have a grasp of the full extent of what is possible with AR. Even when companies are very positive to AR, they often adopt an ‘AR for PR’ mentality. Taken to its logical conclusion this approach can pervert AR, turning it from a strategic discipline into a highly tactical exercise in chasing positive analyst quotes in trade media.

Measurement Matters Most

Many within the industry complain about the maniacal focus that their clients often place on positioning within Gartner Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves. Yes, the quadrants and waves are often misinterpreted and simplistically used in the battle for sales and mindshare, but this criticism misses the point. Many people like the quadrants and waves precisely because they are easily digestible. They provide a method of quantifying a discipline that can appear highly esoteric at the best of times. Vendor positioning reports are not only invaluable in providing a framework for AR practices, but they remain one of the most accurate yardsticks to measuring AR’s impact and success.

Illuminating the Way Forward

It is no coincidence that AR still remains a heavily IT focused discipline – other industry sectors such as Finance, Energy and Industrials, Manufacturing and Healthcare can have a potentially strong AR play, but these sectors remain much less of a focus for most AR professionals. There are no Gartner Magic Quadrants or Forrester Waves to show the way. Indeed AR often has to sneak into those sectors under different labels such as consultancy. In some cases it is the discipline that dare not speak its name at all!

The Need to Diversify

IT remains a growing sector and there will always be a healthy market for clever, dedicated AR practitioners. However, if the AR sector is to grow market share and address the many misconceptions currently held by those in adjacent, sibling disciplines, it has to do a better job at justifying its place within the communications industry. It needs to grow industry mindshare as well as increasing its economic footprint. A good example of crossing traditional IT boundaries is Better Place – a visionary organisation which aims to redefine next-generation transportation and infrastructure to accelerate the adoption of electric vehicles (EVs) and end the world’s addiction to oil. Better Place partnered with H&K at various points for its global influencer programme and helped to change perceptions about the industry and its solutions through, in part, the use of AR.

Exploration and Innovation

The slow pace of economic recovery globally will hopefully act as a catalyst that encourages the AR industry to develop new approaches and tools to successfully establish and embed itself as an essential part of the communications mix within new sectors. It will not happen overnight, but with diligence and inventiveness it is possible.

Magic Quadrant for the oil industry anyone?

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Understanding Analyst Briefing Policies is Only Half the Battle Mon, 12 Jul 2010 17:02:37 +0000 Melissa Grant On Wednesday, July 7th, @IIAR Tweeted “Hearing rumours about reputable analyst firm only taking briefings from current or about-to-be clients. Anyone else coming across the same?” This is a familiar rumor which can stem from a number of sources. Analyst firms change their policies, new, boutique or hybrid analyst/consultants have policies different from those of the largest firms, and vendors that don’t get their briefing requests accepted complain that industry analysts are “pay-for-play.”

Let’s address these separately.

First, we checked with Forrester, IDC and Gartner. All confirmed that they do accept briefings from non-clients. All briefings, be they from clients or non-clients, are at the discretion of the analyst. So, if your product, strategy, technology or company is relevant to the analyst’s research and is compelling, you’ve got as good a chance as anyone to get your briefing.

Second, there are a number of smaller analyst firms that have varied policies depending on their business models. Some firms take briefings from anyone about anything; the idea is that the shotgun effect will net them the broadest industry information and business development opportunities. Others are highly selective and due to limited schedules, emphasis on custom research or narrow topical focus take briefings only from a handful of vendors. Still others fall into a grey area of analyst/consultants who take briefings from vendors who are clients or are soon-to-be clients. These firms are focused on custom consulting, so they spend their time learning about the companies they specifically work for. Where the confusion arises is that ALL of these folks are generally referred to as “industry analysts” regardless of policy.

So know your analysts and analyst firms, or work with someone who does.

That said, let’s get to the heart of the issue; not all briefings are accepted. There are a number of reasons for this of course; wrong analyst target, uninteresting content, bad pitch, lack of news, timing not in synch with trends, etc. etc. The truth is, many briefings are requested with little or no insight into the expertise, research agenda or interests of the analysts they are aiming to speak with. The reason for this is that many vendors, and the agencies that support them, practice only Outbound AR. Doing only Outbound AR means doing only half of AR’s job – from which one can logically expect half the results.

Inbound AR consists of doing the research, preparation and relationship building to inform yourself before you strike out to inform the analysts. This is best accomplished through inquiry (which does require a client relationship) conducted either by the vendor themselves or through the support of an agency with dedicated AR specialists that hold research and inquiry seats. Executing Inbound AR nets the information about research priorities, emerging technology themes, areas of client interest, competitive insights and analyst opinions that not only ensure a briefing is accepted, but turn a briefing into a long-term influencer relationship impacting your market perception, sales and valuation.

Think of it this way; AR is a lot like the U.S. judicial system. Justice is guaranteed for all, but more money gets you a better lawyer. Likewise, analysts do not operate in a primarily pay-to-play environment – access is provided fairly to clients and non-clients alike. But paid access to the analysts and their research makes it that much easier for you to target the right analysts and understand their agendas.

The balance of Inbound and Outbound AR is the real secret sauce of doing Analyst Relations, and that is a rumor we can confirm.

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Analyst Relations – The Power of Inquiry Mon, 19 Apr 2010 16:07:42 +0000 Tris Clark

In the world of politics when people say ‘we need to have an Inquiry’ alarm bells tend to ring. Usually it’s because something’s gone badly wrong, the media’s on the warpath and someone in a position of responsibility is under pressure to explain their actions in public. Inquiries are often viewed as a ‘bad thing’. But this is not always the case…


The word has much more positive connotations within the technology industry. Amongst technology decision makers the phrase tends to spread enlightenment and hope rather than fear and buck passing. Analyst Inquiries tend to be much more positive than their political equivalents (and are by definition confidential). Inquiries with analyst firms such as Gartner, Forrester, IDC and many others provide invaluable insights on a wide range of potential problems.


Technology decision makers who subscribe to an analyst house can hold private Inquiries with that firm’s analysts to get the latest insights and advice on whichever technology issue, purchasing decision or strategic decision they may be grappling with. Correctly conducted, the insights and intelligence gained through them can have a tangible impact on a company’s strategy, choice of technology vendor and the shape of their future technology implementation and execution.


Hill & Knowlton’s own proprietary research has found that just over half of Tech Decision Makers say personal experience, WOM and industry analyst coverage are their most important sources of information when identifying a short list of technology providers. Inquiries can help identify a target analyst’s likely perceptions regarding a specific offering or vendor. The analyst Inquiry is therefore a powerful tool from a product marketing and industry market intelligence perspective. It is for this reason that Hill & Knowlton’s global AR practice has always placed top priority on maintaining a broad base of subscriptions to analyst houses, including Inquiry rights as standard.


So, assuming you are about to have your first Inquiry with an analyst, what should you do to maximise the value gained?

As a rule, the following are a good guide to how to approach an Inquiry:


·         Thoroughly Map Questions to Your Business Objectives – your time with the analyst is limited so ensure that the key areas you need insight on are covered adequately and in sufficient depth. Also try to logically link questions together so that there is a natural flow to your inquiry


·         Clearly Outline Requirements When Booking – when arranging the Inquiry with the analyst firm clearly outline the topics you wish to discuss. A confused brief can lead to an Inquiry with the wrong analyst, so double check your requirements. Also try to provide advance questions for the analyst to review prior to the call


·         Research Your Analyst If they don’t seem to be relevant, make a judgement call on whether pressing ahead is a good use of their time (and yours). There may be another analyst at the same firm who is more suitable. Also get to know the analysts you speak to, research their background (Oh we went to the same university … oh she’s a wine enthusiast … etc.)


On the call itself:


·         Discipline and Focus – Be courteous, be prepared to steer the flow of conversation if required and keep a careful eye on the clock as Inquiry time is typically short


The above points are by no means definitive – as stated earlier no two Inquiries are the same and flexibility is often required – but they will provide a solid starting point for an Inquiry. Hill & Knowlton has Inquiry seats with a number of analyst houses and we frequently conduct Inquiries that can provide impartial feedback that can positively influence go-to-market strategies, product development roadmaps and business implementation.


If you have any questions about best practice when dealing with analysts, or would like to hold an Inquiry with an analyst on a specific area please feel free to contact Hill & Knowlton’s Analyst Relations team for more details.  May all your Inquiries be insightful ones!





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Outsourcing AR Tue, 16 Mar 2010 18:42:43 +0000 Ruth Busbee Forrester’s Ellen Carney recently blogged about a bad experience she had during a start-up’s briefing to her. In this blog post [Outsourced AR Isn’t Making The Connection To Their Sales Enablement Value] she says: “When I asked the agency rep, who in this case had the title “Vice President and Group Director” what role they had in helping their client with the content, he told me that he just passed on to me what the client had sent to them.”

It’s probably not wise to abstract to all outsourced AR based on this lousy interaction. Is outsourcing AR to an agency team that doesn’t understand what analysts are looking for, doesn’t have inquiry access or doesn’t know how to use it a bad idea? Yes, that’s a bad idea. And it goes beyond inquiry access – if your agency doesn’t understand what analysts are looking for in a briefing and how to present information at various stages of interaction that should be a red flag.

But AR teams like the one at H&K – ones with paid-for access to analysts and their research – can ban incredible asset for analysts seeking to deepen relationships with vendors. By being advocates for analyst value, H&K has helped many analysts gain access to executives on high-value topics with many of our clients. It’s all about proving the win-win by showcasing the value analysts have in the form of insights as much as market impact.

While I agree that presentations need to appeal to an analyst at the phase of the relationship, many analysts I work with prefer the opportunity to show a value-add to deepen relationships with analysts. What has your experience been with analysts and sharing information before it is finalized? Would love to hear about your experiences.

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We’re hiring! Tue, 02 Mar 2010 23:32:33 +0000 Ruth Busbee The analyst relations team is looking to hire an Assistant Account Executive. Full details are here and we look forward to hearing from interested candidates.

We have a great team working with fascinating clients, ranging from start-ups to Fortune 100 companies and this is a great opportunity to learn the Analyst Relations ropes!

Want the inside track on our US team? Follow @jayandersen, @fortyninergrant, @kevinfong and @ruthbusbee on Twitter.

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GigaOM Continues to Innovate Wed, 13 Jan 2010 23:24:34 +0000 Jay Andersen GigaOM Pro made another interesting announcement today when it unveiled a program targeted specifically at Analyst Relations professionals. Their new program gives verified AR pros complimentary accounts and full access to market research and reports. The program also allows AR folks to communicate directly with world-class analysts on reports about their companies. I view the news as a positive sign for the AR profession as GigaOM appears to recognize the critical role that AR can play in raising the profile and business value of analyst research, and the importance of strengthening the relationship between AR and analysts.

The move reminds me of RedMonk’s open-source business model, but GigaOM looks to be taking it a step further with the inclusion of analyst interaction. The likely aim is to develop strong and lasting relationships with vendors with the hope of engaging them in consulting gigs. If you are an AR pro I can’t think of any reason to not take advantage of this offer as GigaOM is producing some interesting research on cloud, green, mobile, and the digital home. They are also building an impressive roster of analysts including Clint Wheelock, Rachel Happe, Dan Taylor, and Chetan Sharma.

The devil will be in the details but it will be interesting to see how GigaOM rolls this out!

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Gartner Buys AMR: A Tasty Post-Thanksgiving Meal Tue, 01 Dec 2009 22:41:24 +0000 Jay Andersen Big news broke this morning in the analyst relations world as Gartner announced plans to acquire AMR Research. Founded in 1986, AMR is an industry-recognized thought-leader in vertical industries (including automotive, manufacturing, and utilities), ERP and supply-chain advisory and research. The firm has done an admirable job establishing end-user peer forums, which bring together customers for member-led and analyst-facilitated teleconferences, summits, and webcasts. The deal is not particularly surprising as the two companies have been rumored to be in talks for the past few years.

The deal brings additional depth to Gartner’s vertical practices. Recently the relative strength of some of Gartner’s vertical groups has been in question among the AR community. Even as recently as Fall Symposium, Peter Sondergaard voiced Gartner’s intentions to strengthen certain of Gartner’s vertical practice areas and this deal is a strong move towards that goal. For AMR, the deal provides expanded global reach, research capabilities, and operational infrastructure. For customers of IT research advisory services it removes one alternative to Gartner which continues to dominate the landscape. Or there is the potential that the acquisition creates a vacuum and allows a smaller firm to raise its profile as an alternative to the Forrester/Gartner/IDC triumvirate.

It will be interesting to hear more details about the deal, including how much overlap exists between the two firms client-based. We will be attending Thursday’s Gartner AR Community Webinar teleconference to get the scoop.

We expect to see some layoffs or departures leading up to the closing of the deal. If you work with any AMR or related Gartner analysts, it would behoove you to reach out to them and your sales reps to get a temperature check on the deal and how it may impact your work with them. H&K AR is happy to provide additional assistance and guidance here.

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Mobile Device Market Driving Analyst Relations Interest in Asia Pacific Region Wed, 04 Nov 2009 19:49:41 +0000 Myrna Van Pelt Hi I’m Myrna Van Pelt, Head of Analyst Relations in the Asia Pacific region. I’m excited to join my colleagues on ARcade and present our view of the industry from our specific geographic viewpoint. My first post is about the excitement surrounding the wireless device market.

 APAC is a fascinating market, the pace of growth continues to defy all forecasts. Emerging markets such as India and China continue to confound with the sheer growth spikes as adoption of mobiles and specifically smartphones becomes more widespread. Surprisingly too, there’s an explosion of growth in emerging markets such as Indonesia as smartphones start to become the choice of device for youth as opposed to the traditional enterprise buyer, a shift clearly being driven by the huge popularity of the Facebook market and a social media-hungry user base.

Of late, the H&K AR team in APAC has experienced strong growth from clients for planning and execution of analyst relations. We have been working closely with mobile device manufacturers whose reach is expanding into the EMEA, UK and the US markets. Conversely, we’re also working with multinationals in the UK and EMEA regions who want to reach out to the Asia Pacific region so the parallel growth of these two areas is a strong driver for the growth of our practice.

This is good news and indicates that mobile device manufacturers are well and truly on the way to sharing their success and challenges in the market with a keen and attentive analyst community. There’s a leap of faith being shown in the process of analyst relations by those APAC markets who are starting to recognise that analysts can help to shift their position in the consideration set, and drive improved market capitalisation by raising awareness of their brand with this influential pool of thinkers.

Research firms in this region that are particularly well-recognised for their telco expertise include Ovum who has a formidable arsenal of analysts including the much quoted David Kennedy. Gartner’s well-respected mobility expert Robin Simpson is a much called-upon favourite for incisive analysis on all aspects of the mobile ecosystem.

Further, there’s evident growth with some of the firms such as Frost & Sullivan who are establishing a strong ICT footprint in the region and hiring a number of new analysts, including ex-Gartner staff to grow their research teams. Craig Baty, known to almost every vendor across the region, is now the global head of ICT based out of Sydney and brings both credibility and strength to the revitalised F&S operations in this region.

But back to mobile devices; it will be intriguing to watch the impact of smartphone penetration unfold across the mobile sector, both at the regional and the global level. Helping brands to navigate their way into the hearts and minds of the analysts will become increasingly important for these device manufacturers as adoption of smartphones starts to accelerate across all regions. H&K is at the forefront in driving outcomes for those clients. We are the only analyst relations firm in this market that has invested in fully fledged seats with the key research firms. This allows us to gather insight and critical market intel for those vendors wanting to take their place on the global stage. It’s an exciting time, and an exciting market. We’ll have much more to report on ARcade so watch this space!


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Report from Orlando Sun, 25 Oct 2009 23:58:03 +0000 Joshua Reynolds The technology influencers landscape changes rapidly, and it’s an increasing challenge to know where to prioritize your time — what trends do you follow, which ones do you use to test the waters, and which ones have the most impact on actual revenue? I just finished up at the Gartner Analyst Relations Forum in Orlando where we discussed these very topics, and I am headed next to Gartner’s Symposium in Cannes Nov 2-3 where they will host a European Analyst Relations Forum meeting. I’ve been presenting H&K’s data and insights into how social media, industry analysts and other communications channels are merging, and the impact on B2B sales.

In the four years we’ve published the study, word of mouth and analyst recommendations have always ranked as two of the top tech sales drivers. Rapidly emerging digital channels such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and the ever-growing blog presence are the modern-day word-of-mouth network. We find that the boundaries between digital channels and traditional spheres of influence are getting harder to delineate. H&K recently conducted a study that measured the impact of social media and third-party influencers on B2B tech sales, and explored how the two channels of influence are merging. Among other findings, 44 percent of US tech decision-makers said that analyst commentary on a blog rated an average of 4.5 out of 5 for influencing their purchase decisions.

This continued collision between traditional and digital channels creates new challenges for tech marketers, PR strategists and AR professionals. The universal take-away from my conversations at the Forum are: everyone is focused on learning how to integrate digital channels into their plans. What I find is that some people (or companies) are in early experimental phases with social media, but very few have defined the roles, processes and metrics to make it work.

The other big takeaway at the Forum: Mark McDonald rocks, but he needs new shoes. Mark heads up Gartner’s CIO Council and presented a sneak peak at very preliminary results from Gartner’s much anticipated CIO Agenda report. An hour with him is like a day with 50 of the world’s most informative CIOs. If you want insights into the psychology and politics of B2B buyer’s mindset heading into 2010, nothing beats an inquiry with Mark or a member of his team. But if you do wind up talking with Mark, be sure to offer any advice you have for a less painful way of breaking in a stylish pair of black Italian dress shoes than hiking the grounds at Disney’s Swan resort.

Up next: H&K shares more insights into digital analyst relations on an upcoming Forrester AR Council call on October 29.

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