This was and is meant to be a generally-applicable post. It just turns out to be laced with examples from my own experiences. I hope those aren’t too distracting from the broader points.
It is widely believed among analyst relations professionals that one should engage the services of the analysts most influential in one’s industry, in the hope that the analysts one pays will speak well of one’s company, publicly or privately as the case may be. Thus, the best way for an analyst to make money is:
- Become influential in the industry s/he covers.
- Say nice things about the companies in it, especially the ones with larger budgets.
On the whole, I think I do better at the first of those tasks than the second.
Sometimes the connection between money and saying nice things is pretty blatant. For example, I’m often asked “Hey, would you be interested in doing a white paper that highlights our product’s advantages?” Unfortunately for my bank account, I almost never think it’s a good idea to accept the commission. It’s not that I dispute that it is possible to be ethical when writing white papers. I just don’t find it easy. And frankly, even analysts I regard as ethical commonly turn out white papers with somewhat more bias than I like to see in documents carrying my name.
Even more directly, I’m occasionally grilled to the effect “Is your view of us sufficiently favorable that we should retain your services?” Those discussions generally don’t end up in a paying relationship, but so be it; the companies who do that aren’t clients I’d much enjoy having anyway.