IIAR discussion group – So Where AR You Going?

Recently, the IIAR held a discussion group on AR careers following a series of blog posts by Marc Duke (@marcduke) on this topic.

AR still suffers from being in the shadow of PR and like Marc, most of those taking part in the call had fallen into AR careers by accident. What can we do, as an industry, to spread the word?

Fionnula Fitzsimons (@fionnula) from Bite Communications and Stephen England (@sfengland) from KCG emphasised that we need to do more PR to differentiate ourselves from PR. KCG estimates that there are about 1,500 full-time AR professionals globally – tiny in comparison to those engaged in PR. Even the investor relations community, perhaps the closest in terms of job function to AR, boasts around 100,000 members.
It’s difficult for such a small group to make much noise, and AR is a difficult story to tell. How many of our families really understand what it is that we do? The responsibility rests with us as AR managers to keep educating those around us on the value of analysts and AR to our organisations. As Stephen England put it, “if we each teach one PR person, one marketing person, and one sales person a quarter of what we do, our ecosystem would increase dramatically.” Marc Duke also felt that the IIAR could help raise the profile of AR by getting more content into the mainstream technology and marketing/PR trade press.

Where AR reports into within the organisation has a big impact on the AR professional’s career. Mike Jastrab from TCS commented that “if AR reports into PR, you’re at a significant disadvantage from a career standpoint.” The higher up the organisation the schism between AR and PR occurs, the better. When AR reports in “high and special”, it tends to have a high level of advocacy within the organisation and stops being an adjunct to PR. The group felt that jobs combining PR and AR were particularly challenging, as the roles are so different.

Is AR changing to more of an Influencer Relations role? In services, the influence of third-party advisors has increased, and the extension of AR to include TPA relations has been successful for some organisations. In terms of social media, Stephen England sees companies retrenching from combining AR and blogger relations. Social media is now tending to move from AR into PR. KCG found from their discussions with CIOs that social media wasn’t influencing purchasing decisions and Gartner is still the trusted advisor.

And what does the future hold for AR? Marc Duke sees increasing specialisation as a future trend – for example, verticalisation, startup AR etc. To succeed, AR has to continue to innovate. Stephen England highlighted effective linking of AR with sales as a key development, and this was echoed by Eva Hoertrich (@eva_hoertrich) from Siemens Enterprise Communications. She recommended that the IIAR holds a panel on how AR can interact with sales, as there are small things that can be done to improve the relationship between AR and sales. Look for more on this soon.

Marc’s final post, on the future of AR careers, will be published next week.

What do you think? How has your role been impacted by where you report in your organisation? Has your job expanded to include other influencers? And what do you see in terms of future trends in AR?

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5 Responses to IIAR discussion group – So Where AR You Going?

  1. Duncan Chapple Tuesday 17th May 2011 at 12:45 #

    The claim that there are 1500 AR people but 100000 IR people is lazy and stupid. Looking on LinkedIn, I can see 2631 people with “analyst relations” in their current job title and 11156 with “investor relations”. If you’re going to make up numbers, at least take 20 seconds to have an educated guess.

    • hkirkman Tuesday 17th May 2011 at 13:01 #

      Duncan, the statement was that there were 1,500 full time AR professionals. The 2,631 people on Linkedin include those who do AR alongside PR, MI, consultant relations and other roles.

      • Duncan Chapple Tuesday 17th May 2011 at 21:11 #

        Hi Hannah. I think it’s important to get this right because the problem with the low influence of AR is not to do with its size, it’s to do with the declining impact of AR – which is to do with bad strategy and tactics. The core IR community is not an order of magnitude larger than the AR community, and AR is tightly concentrated in a few industries meaning it will outnumber IR in many tech and telecom firms. But the AR community as a whole is around three times larger than the IR community: not smaller.

        Seeing the 1,500 to 100,000 statement, I think most readers would think the IIAR’s trying to say that the AR community is 1.5% the size of the investor relations community. On LinkedIn, I found 2,631 people who have the words analyst relations in their job titles: so that will be a small subset of those who do AR in some way. I just searched for people who have analyst relations as keywords: the number is 197,886. The same numbers for investor relations are 11,156 in their job titles and 73,337. LinkedIn has a big enough sample that it will be fairly representative. My conclusions from this are: the number of 100,000 is unreferenced and almost certainly as made up as most numbers ending in five zeros; at the very best, we can make a misleading, apples and oranges comparison to say there are 2,600 people focussed on AR compared to 73,300 in some way doing IR; and that would be as meaningful as saying that there are 11,000 people doing IR and 200,000 people doing AR. The comparison is either misleading or pointless. Insofar as it’s either, it’s lazy. If we look at hiring, and for example compare the number of job adverts in the USA that ask for AR or IR skills, investor relations is far behind: look at the chart here (http://www.analystequity.com/1158/at-the-crossroads-ar-must-help-close-the-loop) which cleverly updates itself.

  2. Steve Tuesday 17th May 2011 at 16:28 #

    Two good ways to demonstrate the value of AR:
    1) Case studies
    2) Objective and credible RoI calculations.

    Also bear in mind that PR generally has a more immediate impact (good or bad) whereas AR generally is a long game!

    Determine and publish scorecard to enable a provider to assess whether they really should have a dedicated AR function. If they score above a target number they should. below, that score and they may not get a great RoI.

  3. David R Wednesday 18th May 2011 at 11:17 #

    I am disappointed not to have made this call. It sounds fascinating.

    I think Duncan makes a good point when he says in his comment that the “low influence of AR is not to do with its size, it’s to do with the declining impact of AR – which is to do with bad strategy and tactics.”

    I’d also say that it’s do with the declining importance of large parts of the analyst community themselves. Too many analysts today cannot demonstrate (and in too many cases, even articulate) their real value in the market. That makes it harder for AR professionals to prove the importance of their specialist role.

    As for the numbers employed in AR v IR…

    First, there are plenty of people in analyst relations who are actually dealing with financial analysts rather than industry analysts.

    Second, IR is a discipline which covers multiple industries rather than just tech/telecoms. In comparison, IAR is a discipline that is largely focused on the technology/telecoms market.

    Given this, I wouldn’t find it surprising that the number of IR professionals in the world far outweighs the number of IAR professionals.