Since I started at H+K nearly two years ago, in addition to being part the Tech team, I have been part for H+K’s Analyst Relations team. For those not familiar with the term ‘Analyst Relations’ (or perhaps just unsure as to what it actually entails), it is a kind of strategic communications and marketing activity in which vendors and organisations communicate with industry or research analysts.
Though it covers many industries, Analyst Relations (AR) is most predominant in the ICT sector. Having the background of working in the Tech team at H+K has definitely been of benefit to me in my AR work, and has helped me form the opinion that not only is AR a worthwhile activity, it is a must for ICT companies.
The kind of strategic communication activity that companies can implement as an AR program includes conducting briefing sessions, as well as providing on-going consulting to assist analysts with any research requests they may. The core function of this activity is to remain consistently top-of-mind for analysts when they are writing industry reports or forecasting market share, conducting customer briefings, or as mentioned, providing comment to media. It also serves a purpose in terms of helping a company to differentiate itself from the competition, become more visible, and crucially, sell its products and services.
In many ways, AR activities can also become worthwhile PR activity – after all, an analyst providing third party endorsement for a vendor’s products and services to a journalist writing an article for the likes of The Australian Financial Review or CIO magazine can only be valuable PR for a brand, right?
So, for me it’s not a question of whether AR is more or less important than PR – they should be equally important to a company’s overall corporate strategy and vision. Both activities complement each other, and the nature of each activity means that there will be a time when they overlap. With that in mind, I’ve listed below a few points to consider when a company is contemplating putting together an AR program. I think these points should be vital in forming the basis of an effective AR program:
1. Find the right analysts for the vendor: identifying appropriate analysts for a company forms the basis of an effective AR program. Knowing which analysts cover the industry or market sector is essential; reading their bios, areas of research, and recent research reports is a good way of getting to know who to target.
2. Research is key: in addition to researching for the right analysts, it is important to regularly check analyst blogs and read their reports, in addition to reading regular industry media articles, so as to keep up-to-date on industry activity.
3. Consistent updates: if your company would like to remain top-of-mind for analysts, it is absolutely imperative to regularly schedule briefing sessions or updates with analysts. This doesn’t have to be as much as one briefing per month (in fact, most analysts will not have the time to do this), but certainly one key briefing session per quarter is recommended.