This is the second in a series of blogs for AR professionals containing tips and pointers on how to optimize the relationship between AR and industry analysts. Here I take a look at the role of AR in the briefing process.
Your briefing team is aware of upcoming analyst reports on your AR calendar, so they shouldn’t be surprised when you request their participation in a briefing. When I was an AR pro, for a major report, I used to pull the team together to discuss the evaluation criteria, the key messages we wanted to convey, and the references we would be using. However, the level of enthusiasm varies from team to team. Some think it will be easy to ‘do well’ in a report because they have done so in the past; others will be upset about how your company was represented in a previous report, and may not be so keen to spend time on the next one.
This is where diplomacy comes in handy. I once had a situation where a team spent a large amount of time providing the latest information for an analyst report, only to find that when the draft arrived for fact-checking, the previous year’s data had been repurposed – which upset the team, as you would imagine. However, I was able to work with the industry analysts in question to ensure that the key points from the latest information set were included in the report. Unfortunately this happens sometimes, but the key is to work as go-between to ensure that your key messages get across irrespective of any hick-ups that may occur along the way.
Having served as both an AR pro and an industry analyst, I think AR pros often sell themselves short in terms of their role in the briefing process. One approach is for AR to position themselves in a pure admin role. This shouldn’t be underestimated, as there’s plenty to do in terms of prioritizing and scheduling analyst requests, getting buy-in from executives and subject matter experts (SMEs), and preparing the participants for the briefing. But when it comes to the briefing itself, AR has the opportunity to adopt a more strategic role, not just as the note-taker or time-keeper for the session. AR is the key facilitator of the session, but can also be an important contributor; for example, covering specific sections of the presentation such as the corporate overview, or presenting case study material (having been briefed by the relevant SME).
While most industry analysts invite vendors to participate in a report by providing a briefing, some will include vendors whether or not a briefing has taken place. It is important to understand this point and share it with executives and SMEs because not briefing can mean losing control of over the currency and accuracy of the information presented about your company. This is a persuasive argument to use with your executives and SMEs, particularly when presented with the promise that they will get to see a draft of the report for fact-checking prior to publication. Your colleagues will also appreciate it if you can reduce their workload by presenting them with previous versions of the report annotated at the points where key information items and data points need updating.
Finally, a word about when to schedule briefings (i.e. early or late in the analysts’ schedule). Here there are two schools of thought: some think it’s best to be first and set the bar for the other vendors, while others like to be at the front of the analysts’ mind at the end of a project. My preference was to set the bar early, and I also think it’s good form to participate as early as possible to ensure your company is not holding up the industry analysts’ deadlines. Does the early bird catch the worm, or is it best to be last? You decide!