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Recognizing the Differences between Analyst Relations and Public Relations

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Analyst relations can be a key part of an integral public relations and marketing plan, but is often overlooked by PR professionals. Last week, the Publicity Club of New England held an event on best practices in analyst relations, hosted by Charlie Guyer of the Guyer Group.

Below are the key insights and takeaways on AR 101s for PR practitioners:

AR takes time. Pitching the media and building strong analyst connections are on two completely different time frames. When you have a reporter on the phone, you have 30 seconds to “wow” them. When you have an analyst on the phone, the conversation can go on for a while and will probably include talk about families, weekend plans and hobbies. Additionally, the gratification takes longer. With traditional PR, the story may run in the same day or week was secured. With AR, the tangible results/ROI take much longer.

Image by Xataka used under CC license.

The relationships are different. Journalists are used to people reaching out when they want quick coverage or think they can get into a story. Unless they company is a big name or has a lot of news, it is most likely that working with a journalist will be pretty sporadic – with coverage and outreach here and there. With an analyst, that is not the case at all. You must keep them apprised of all news and events, and make them feel loved. They are more likely to host input calls and include you in reports if they know that you are in it for the long-haul, not just the quick hit.

With AR, you can go a mile deep, not a mile wide. PR is all about reach and getting the story out to as many top targets as possible. We have all been there, working through a media list with 50+ contacts, trying to get the news out to everybody who will listen. With AR, you will probably only work with one or two analysts on any given subject, doing a very deep dive into strategy, numbers and data. It is about going into depth.

It is not all about the “big names.” The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Boston Globe… those are the outlets many clients dream about being in. With AR, it is different in that while there are the big name analyst firms, individual analysts at each firm have their own clout, based on experience and tenure. While you would put a CEO in front of any WSJ reporter, you may want to be a little bit more careful when it comes to analysts to make sure their area of coverage aligns with the executive’s. Also, analysts are able to break out on their own and create new firms using their industry reach and previously cultivated relationships. For example, R “Ray” Wang left Forrester to start his own very well-known and recognized firm, Constellation Research.

The rise of the “jour-analyst.” The proliferation of social media has made it possible for analysts to express their opinions over many different platforms – not just through their firm’s reports. This means that like with a media interview, not everything can be assumed to be “off the record” and analysts can publish any honest review – even if its negative – they wish on their own personal outlets. This also means that feedback can be heard and shared in real-time publicly as opposed to waiting for the quadrant or report to be published.

Keep the audience in mind. This should be a familiar point for PR professionals. Just like when pitching the media, it is important to know who you are targeting or trying to reach. This will help you choose both the right analyst and firm to target.

Pay-for-Play pays off. In AR, it is important to note that you often have to pay for coverage in some capacity, but being strategic with how you’re engaging with paid relationships across firms and coverage areas can result in showing your company in the best light. For example, the more money you spend with bigger firms like Gartner will result in inclusion in more reports, access to more analysts and attendance to events and conferences. While you can get scrappy with AR, more often than not, it needs some sort of monetary investment to be totally worth the while. This is a major difference from PR, as pay-for-play opportunities are generally with lower tier publications.

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