[Guest Post] AR Planning Doesn’t Have to be Like Nailing Jell-O to a Tree

By Vicki Jenkins / NelsonHall  (LinkedIn,  @VickiJ_NH)

With a background as both an analyst relations (AR) professional and an industry analyst, I have seen what happens on both sides of the fence, and communication between the two sides is not always straightforward. Hence, this is the first in a series of blogs for AR professionals containing tips and pointers on how to ensure that the AR/analyst relationship stays smooth. Topics will include briefing preparation and follow-up plans, promotion plans for report placement, and industry analyst days. As it’s that time of year, I’ll start by taking a look at AR planning. 

Where did 2015 go? Yes, quite. But 2016 is upon us, and planning for the year ahead is a priority for most of us. Many AR professionals will by now have liaised with the industry analyst firms to learn about their research plans for 2016, plotted project dates on their calendars, and coordinated the calendars of their executives and subject matter experts. If you haven’t already done so, it is also important to make your internal marketing, sales, and public relations contacts aware of when relevant research is planned to be published so they can plan their time and arrange budgets to promote the research outcomes. Project dates and topics may change, so it’s important to remember to check in with the analysts’ client services contacts to stay up-to-date with any changes and adjust internal calendars accordingly.

My analyst colleagues might not thank me for this, but it’s also not too late to suggest additional research topics. While the analyst firms’ research schedules are primarily set for the year, there might still be opportunities to add topics or influence the scope of planned projects.

It’s also a good idea to mark your AR calendar with the major events your company is planning, such as product launches, new delivery location openings, and any other events that will require major external communication. This will enable you to tie your messaging into what the analysts are working on, and ensure that your key events are covered during interactions with analysts throughout the year, including meetings, strategy days, briefings, inquiries, or even an e-mail or a quick phone call.

A big part of the AR calendar is planning time to meet with the industry analysts in person, including strategy days and industry analyst days. Getting these dates into the calendar early is essential, as it can be difficult to make the stars align for your business stakeholders and the analysts themselves if this is left to drift. Check to see if analysts are attending key industry events and if you can connect them with your stakeholders and subject matter experts who are also attending. Generally, it is important to check in with the analysts throughout the year to keep updated on their travel plans: will they be in the vicinity of your office locations, or other locations your executives are travelling to so that a meeting, lunch or dinner can be arranged? Industry analysts are spread across the world, some office-based, some in remote home locations, so there are likely to be opportunities for meetings in more locations than you think.

Finally, it’s important to remind colleagues that the AR calendar is a dynamic document that changes often. You’ll find yourself updating and re-sharing it with your internal team regularly. I wish you all the best as you make your plans for 2016 and look forward to working with many AR pros throughout the year. AR planning can sometimes seem like nailing Jell-O* to a tree, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

* Other gelatin-based desserts are available

 

This blog post was originally published on NelsonHall’s website on the 22/1/16.

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