Archive | AR

Scheduling made easy?

tetris-blocks[1]Thanks to James, I’ve just discovered, a service to publish your availability.

Scheduling is one of the most time consuming (and least rewarding) tasks AR Managers have to perform in their duty, think of trying to play a 4D Tetris game or being a dating agency for high-speed particules in in LHC. Simply put, executives and IT analysts have a better chance to meet in an airport lounge than in a briefing I’ll arrange.

If all the analysts were on, it would be easier to schedule calls as I could triangulate this with my execs calendars.

I hope IDC, Forrester or Gartner will adopt this.

For in person meetings, there are two other web 2.0 tools called dopplr and tripit, which allow you to share where you’ll be with a a selected group of people. Quite practical to see when analysts are attending conferences.

This aspect of declarative authorisation is important for privacy (and safety/security reasons), should add this. You can of course mash those ones up with your LinkedIn profile and voila!

If only things were that simple 🙂 But I’m an optimist!


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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part three

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in February 2010 as the third in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part two

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the second in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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Should the analysts be blogging?

Phil Fersht (ex. AMR) started an interesting conversation on his Outsourcing Blog: Horses for Sources with a post titled  The great analyst firewall: will banning analysts from blogging damage the traditional research business, or help create an entirely new one?

I really like those quotes in particular, the first one depicts the onset of the analyst scene in the noughties (IMHO Phil, it happened a bit before though):The Skills of Star Performers Aren’t Portable

The “rock star” analyst had arrived. People paid good money to spend time with these people, to hear their views, use them as a sounding-board, or just to be associated with them. And their growing corporate stables certainly didn’t refuse the increasing moneys that came rolling in off the back of their growing relationships and influence. The rock stars created buzz and drove the industry, challenging both vendors and customers to innovate and transform business models.

However, like anything else, corporates like to monetize their brands to the max, scale their businesses and drive down their costs. It’s business economics one-on-one, and the big analyst firms are no different.

And its consequence:

We want Bill, not Ben

Having their clients say “I want Bill, not Ben” was (and still is) infuriating to the analyst firms. They want their clients to pay the same for the 28-year old fresh from her MBA, than they did for the rock stars of yesteryear. And they’re currently succeeding, as there aren’t too many alternatives right now.

Now, as a self-confessed “ex-Rockstar” puts it, it doesn’t go without implications for the business model, and maybe this is why Forrester, but also Gartner restricts analysts to blogging on their coverage areas to their corporate site, while Ovum doesn’t even feature their analyst bios on their extranets:

A (now departed for vendor land) fellow ex-analyst at IDC used to say that most of the firms could never figure out how to deal with an analyst transitioning from labor to talent since you pay each of those people in very different ways. Talent drives revenues, but paying people as talent is bad for profit plans.

To me this is quite obvious: the result of analysts work (read when paid by their employers) is intellectual property. And since that IP is not only created during business hours (whatever that means nowadays), it rightly belong to the analyst firms -just like inventions and patents they might come up with. This is purely hypothetical because never has one ever heard of a patent filed by an IT analyst. (DISCLAIMER: yes, provocative statement, but who knows we might learn something cool from the comments of this posts?)

So, just get over it, who gives a damn anyway? BTW, check Josh’s comment in the thread and you’ll see the Forrester blogs debate has no raison d’être. Merv also blogger here about the different policies here, good wrap up with lots of quotes.

More intriguing are firms without a presence at all in the online conversation -I’d say they’re missing out, both on branding, influence, research validation, etc… There’s little evidence to back this up (cf. Gerry‘s comment).

So, where does it lead us? One sub-header gives up a clue to the real issue, and that’s way beyond blogging:

Aren’t analysts supposed to create buzz?

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[GUEST POST] Analyst Relations Basics – part one

NB This is a cross-post from the Buzz Method blog, where it was originally posted in November 2009 as the first in a series of articles on Analyst Relations basics. Please note that the views expressed within the article do not necessarily reflect those of the IIAR – they are the opinion of Dominic Pannell, founder of Buzz Method Ltd.

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[GUEST POST] How should AR pros use online channels to increase influence on their target prospects?

By Duncan Brown / Influencer50 (LinkedIn, @duncanwbrown).

This is the third and final post in a series of thought pieces on the role of online channels in influence. The first two articles are here and here. [For more discussion on the role and nature of influence see my blog, Infuse.]

There’s little doubt that online channels are important. I don’t believe that they are the whole story in measuring influence, but they are essential in reaching influencers.

There are two primary uses of online channels in an influencer relations programme:

  1. Tracking what influencers do: online media don’t help identify influencers (I assert), but they are useful in post-identification analysis. What are influencers blogging on, are they Twittering, what webcasts and podcasts are they involved in, and so on. You can use online tools to track what influencers are doing and saying, even what they’re saying about you.
  2. Engaging with influencers. If influencers are blogging and Tweeting, then that’s where you need to be too. If they’re on Facebook and LinkedIn then connect to them there. Comment on their blogs, request guest blog posts, follow them on Twitter. Be where they are.

Of course, if influencers are not online, then there’s no point in you trying to find them and interact with them there. Some influencers eschew online channels for communication, because of the time it diverts from other activities. (Seth Godin claims that he’d lose 6 hours per day if he Tweeted.)

I know some markets (web development, for example) where 100% of the influencer community blogs and uses discussion forums. I also know of tech markets where nearly 0% of influencers use online channels: they live in a face-to-face world. Most tech markets, but not all, have a spread of online- and offline-oriented influencers (and many influencers, of course, are both).

Make sure you know where your influencers are.

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Next IIAR discussion group on linking AR with sales

Our next monthly discussion group teleconference is next Monday, February 22nd, on the topic of linking AR with sales.

The call will be lead by Ed Gyurko, who is currently authoring a Best Practice white paper on this topic for the IIAR. Ed will be joined by Allen Valahu from Accenture.

IIAR members who would like to join the call, please contact Hannah Kirkman for dial in details.

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Gartner is growing, its end-user influence as well

Interesting comment from Carter in his post about Gartner’s earnings Gartner Q4 and full year 2009 earnings – implications for analyst relations and research clients » SageCircle Blog:

AR teams should use Gartner’s growth in enterprise clients as an education tool with stakeholders and executive sponsors. Rather than experiencing shrinking influence in this recession, Gartner has increased its influence because of the business value it offers to enterprise clients and its ability to leverage the largest sales force in the analyst industry.

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[GUEST POST] Measuring online influence

By Duncan Brown / Influencer50 (LinkedIn, @duncanwbrown).

This second post on online influence looks at how one might measure influence using online metrics. It follows on from last week’s post which posed a lot of questions, but few answers. Fair cop.

But first, I think there are a couple of principles of influence to consider:

1. People buy people. Therefore influence measures need to identify individuals. It’s not sufficient to conclude that Gartner (for example) is influential – duh. Vendors need to know (a) who within Gartner is influential, (b) what’s their influence relative to other analyst influencers, and (c) what’s their influence relative to other non-analyst influencers. Influence isn’t distributed equally, either within organisations or throughout the market.

2. Influence is multi-dimensional. Some influencers are subject gurus, some command statutory authority, some are thought leaders and idea planters, some structure the financial elements of procurement, and so on. It’s important to understand why someone is influential, as much as the fact that they are influential.

So. Let’s look at some of the ways influence claims to be measured online:

– Citations – this measures the number of times a source refers back to an originating source. Google PageRank works this way: it rates pages highly if other people link back to it. It’s also how academic research works: a recent paper will refer to previous papers, and the more references a paper gets the more influential it is considered to be. Its strength is its weakness – it will persist in referring back to previously cited sources, even if they become superceded. It also build in something called the Matthew effect, where longevity is favoured over originality.

– Connections – how many outbound links a source has. LinkedIn, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter (following) and other social networks work this way. Count the connections to determine how well connected the person is. It’s also easy to fake, by link swaps, indiscriminate “friending” and so on.

– Subscriptions and readership – Technorati works this way, measuring the number of readers a blog has, and Twitter also publishes this information as followers.

– Noise – references to subjects and/or individual firms. Radian 6, Techrigy, and a bunch of other providers do this, measuring the number of times your firm is mentioned. Some also claim to measure the sentiment of the mention, usually using natural language processing tech.

All of these measures are indicators of online activity, and you can see the usefulness of them, as far as they go. They are, in my view, the equivalent of PR clippings services.

However, none of them measure whether the critical community, decision makers, are remotely influenced by online channels. It’s always necessary to ask: Influence on whom? Do any of these measures accurately assess the impact on real decision makers? In other words, do they measure the likely impact on behaviour of a buyer? Because if they don’t, if they measure a vague notion of industry activity or sentiment, then do they really reflect the ecosystem of influencers that impacts decisions?

More critically, can vendors construct marketing programmes around these measures to improve knowledge, lead generation and useful sales collateral? Because if they can’t, what are these measures useful for?

Tssk – more questions.That last one was rhetorical.

Next week’s post will probably pose more questions about how AR can use online channels to increase influence on their firms’ prospective customers.

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[GUEST POST] What are My Secret AR Weapons?

I, like others am driven to compete, produce the best results….or in other words, Win!

I know that I am not alone in this, and am competing for analysts time and attention, not to mention doing everything I can for the highest rating possible.  So I instinctively know that others are sucking up the remaining analyst time with a message that favors them once my time is up.  So I have to get the time, and make it as meaningful as possible.

I rely on a few tactics that have morphed over the years, but are still true today.


This takes time, but it is important to know the other person.  I take the time to talk about their children, pets, or at least read their social media which tells me about them as a person.  This can set the tone for a relationship, and you also can find the common ground to have more than just a perfunctory relationship.

What do you get out of it?  Many things like trust (which matters in good or bad times), an answered email, tweet, or any other form of communication.  I talk to analysts and they frankly have email overload and/or avoidance.  That means if they see it from you, there is a decision on whether to look at it (or take the call) or brush it off to the dustpile.

My advice is to take the time to build a relationship by knowing them, then helping them by going out of your way to make the transaction more meaningful.  You will see results from it, like the answer you were looking for.  It’s almost like real estate but instead of location, it’s relationship, relationship, relationship.


Further on the issue of communicating with the analyst is how to avoid their overload.  There is some method they choose that they rank as the one to answer.  It could be twitter, email (a personal account could be an option here), a text….whatever.  Once you build the relationship, ask them in a crunch, how can I reach you.  Murphy’ law will come into play at some point.   The analyst will be unavailable when you need them (right now) and the back channel is the way.

A word of advice.  If you abuse this, it negates the purpose of having a back channel.


At some point, it’s the executive and the analyst and it’s out of your hands.  The can make or break it for you.  Pick the right one for the right briefing.  Tell them how to answer to the analyst base on the relationship you have built and their nuances.

Another issue is how and what you tell.  Sometimes you can state the obvious.  Other times you need to absolutely not answer  a question that will sink your ship.  Having the executive ready to know where the landmines are.   One in A/R must realize that not all are called out to be an effective spokesperson.  Here is a discourse on executives.

If they fall down and you know it, you have to get back to the analyst and sweep up the damage.  Get another executive or knowlegable person to fix the mess.

The best of all worlds is when you get the relationship (here’s that word again) with and executive, and they know how to tell the right story and they build a relationship with analyst also.

Point of interest:  You must also make sure that they know the difference between a press briefing and an analyst briefing.   What is off limits and how far can you push the information limits (NDA may be needed).   I want my execs to tell almost everything including some warts.   This makes the story believable, especially when you are early in the announcement cycle.  This gets you buy in, or if you know a certain analyst is anti-your-message, you’ll know not to go there at announcement time.

Is this a comprehensive list, by no means, mostly because you are dealing with people  so outcomes are not predictable.  Will it work?  Most times as long as you stick to the rules.  Will you have issues or times when everything falls apart?  Yes, and you have to pick yourself up and begin again, it could even lead you to a better relationship.

I graduated from the school of hard knocks, with a PH.D.  If I’d have known this earlier on in my career, it would have avoided many troubling times.  Perhaps that’s how I learned to use these tactics?

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Downfall: Gartner MQ and learnings

Late last week I resurrected a common meme around Hitler’s downfall video but this time applied it to analyst relations.

In the original post, I simply let the parody of the video speak for itself but after reviewing the many comments on the blog and on twitter, I have noticed that quite a few people are commenting about what they can learn from this. Continue Reading →

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[Guest Post] Have online channels changed the nature of influence?

By Duncan Brown / Influencer50 (LinkedIn, @duncanwbrown).

Determining the impact of the growth in online channels such as social media is one of the things that taxes most of us. I’m forever seeing new ‘influencer tracker’ services pop up, and in the world of analyst relations there’s continual discussion on whether and how to engage in online options like blogs, podcasts and social networking.

In response to the explosion of online influencer tracker services – there are over 100 nowadays, and counting – Nick Hayes and I wrote a paper* on how we think they are misleading marketers. The paper led to an invitation to post on the IIAR blog, to hopefully spark some discussion – thanks for the invite, Ludovic.

This first post focuses on whether influence as a concept has changed with the use of online channels. The second will look at how influence can be measured using online metrics. And the third will discuss the implications of online channels for AR and Influencer Relations professionals.

There’s an important context to any debate on influence, online or otherwise. It is that ecosystems of influencers are highly fragmented these days. Most decision makers are influenced by the traditional journalists and analysts, but also by consultants, academics, regulators, financiers, sourcing advisors, procurement professionals and other specialists, as well as peer end users.

Much of the influence exerted by this group has been enabled, in large part, by online channels. This has been an ongoing process for a decade. The web and search engines make it easier for anyone to reach the market, and easier for buyers to find what they’re looking for. Blogs and podcasts increase the reach of anyone inclined to use them. Social media is just the next step in this evolution – there’s no social media revolution going on.

But social media has provided a new channel for those people with the potential to influence, making communication between those people frictionless.  To reach a group of like-minded adopters of a technology you used to have to organise a meeting in a mutually inconvenient location. Nowadays, you organise an unconference or participate in an online forum. It used to take months to organise an event, now it can take hours.

But has the nature of influence changed? Are decision makers influenced in different ways through online channels? You’d think so, given the hype, but as Nate Elliott at Forrester observed, “the huge majority of users influence each other face to face rather than through social online channels.”

It makes sense to understand the attributes of influence – the ability to discuss and persuade, knowledge and experience, willingness to express an opinion, the authority and gravitas with which to communicate that opinion, the opportunity to convey that opinion to the right audience at the right time. And so on.

Some of these attributes are facilitated by online channels, for sure. Others are removed from online impact completely. There’s no doubt that some of the smaller analyst firms, for example, are benefitting from their online presence, in terms of reaching their potential audience through blogging and other social media technologies. But these channels are not creating expertise or authority – simply the means to communicate them.

Can social media create a new kind of influence, by collative the collective wisdom of a connected crowd? After all, there is safety in numbers in doing what the crowd does. We used to have a version of that in the IT industry – no-one ever got fired for buying IBM. Imagine the power of that kind of statement, communicated instantly over the blogosphere. Or would it be immediately challenged and rejected by real users’ experience?

So, are analysts influencing via online channels? How is influence really conveyed by analysts to decision makers? Has it moved mainly to online or is it still by telephone enquiries and face-to-face advice?

*Free registration required, or email me at duncan.brown(at) Barbara French also contributed to the paper.

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[GUEST POST] Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value, by Carol Rozwell / Gartner

Carol Rozwell from Gartner (blog, @CRozwell, bio) kindly allowed us to reproduce here her post on Vendors: suggestions to maximize briefing value. It neatly complement her peer Linda Rowan from IDC’s Briefing tips and best practices.


Last week, I was treated to a number of interesting vendor briefings, the most engaging of which was conducted in Second Life. But despite having the opportunity to view some innovative product offerings, I also had to contend with some frustrating vendor practices. In the spirit of helping vendors maximize the short time they have for a briefing with an analyst, I offer my list of five worst practices I wish vendors would curtail:
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[Guest Post] Identifying influencers by apparent importance vs real trust

By Barbara French / Tekrati (LinkedIn, @bfr3nch)

Analyst relations professionals are dealing with more types of analysts and analyst-like influencers every day. How do you know who’s important among these new faces? Some insights from a pharma influencer relations study can give you fresh perspectives on identifying, differentiating and prioritizing your AR targets.

This post is reprinted from my personal blog Sway, where I discuss analyst relations and broad-based influencer relations. You may know me best as founder and managing editor of Tekrati, Inc.


Solid research is the only way to cut through the chatter about identifying and prioritizing influencers for word-of-mouth marketing and other forms of influencer marketing. Mike Gotta (Burton Group / Gartner ) yesterday pointed out a just such a study, from the pharma industry. I like this study because it focuses on finding the hidden opinion leaders who drive the first wave of word-of-mouth product referrals.

The study identifies two distinct types of opinion leaders among the target physicians:

  • those who are trusted and respected by peers (called sociometric leaders)
  • those physicians who think of themselves as well connected and influential (called self-reported opinion leaders)

The opinion leaders identified by their peers are not the traditional targets pursued by marketers. If anything, they contradict current marketing wisdom about influencers and influentials. They are not overtly well connected, outgoing or high profile in terms of being published or public speakers.

Three nuggets to think about:

The study finds little overlap between the two types of influencers. Physicians fell into one group or the other.

The under-the-radar opinion leaders are quicker to use new product and more likely to influencer others to try it. This finding is based on matching network data with perscription records.

The under-the-radar sociometric opinion leaders are more interested in what their peers are doing, and are more open to word-of-mouth or social influence, than the self-reported opinion leaders.

Both types of opinion leaders play important roles in robust influencer marketing programs. One group is not better than the other; they’re just different kinds of people. The best course of action is to identify and address both types of opinion leaders. That means doing more research and more segmentation.

Useful links:
Hat tip: Mike Gotta
Study: Opinion Leadership and Social Contagion in New Product Diffusion – by Raghuram Iyengar, Christophe Van den Bulte, and Thomas Valente, 2008
Summary of Study: [email protected]

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Next IIAR discussion group call on AR measurement and evaluation

Our next monthly discussion group teleconference is next Wednesday, January 20th, on the topic of AR measurement and evaluation.

The call will be lead by Ellie Warner, who recently authored a Best Practice white paper on this topic for the IIAR.

IIAR members who would like to join the call, please contact Hannah Kirkman for dial in details.

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Best practice AR at the Mobile World Congress: panel discussion highlights

Yesterday the IIAR had a great turn-out for its teleconference on best practice analyst relations at the Mobile World Congress this February in Barcelona.

The discussion was exceptional and the featured panelists included:

• AMDOCS, Brian McManus
• CCS Insight, Ben Wood
• Ericsson, Peter Olofsson
• Vodafone, Janine Aitken-Young.

Here are some of the highlights from the discussion:

• Every analyst attending gets hundreds of requests for meet ups. Resources don’t exist for every analyst to meet with every vendor
• MWC is for analyst meetings not analyst briefings. Pre-brief analysts about news and then arrange 15 minute catch up meetings at the MWC
• Logistics are extremely challenging at the MWC. Pre-planning and spokesperson preparation is essential; allow time in between meetings
• Check the time you are allowed into the conference before scheduling breakfast meetings
• Use multiple ways to evaluate AR success at the event
• Be ready to fact check as analysts are writing blogs and reports on tight deadlines
• Don’t plan meet ups with analysts at social events and don’t plan on analysts attending social events unless there’s a big ‘hook’
• 80% of what’s discussed with an analyst at the MWC is forgotten

All in all a very useful discussion and thanks again to the panelists for their participation.

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[Guest post] Blogger relations at SAP by Michael Krigsman

By Michael Krigsman / ZDnet (LinkedIn, @mkrigsman).


Analyst relations is a world of shifting territory, with convergence arising among blogs, traditional analysts, and even the media. I wrote this post to discuss how one software vendor navigates the blogging aspect of these difficult waters.

This post is reprinted from my blog at ZDNet, which is called IT Project Failures.


Enterprise software vendors are an important part of the blogging dialog ecosystem, along with technology customers, analysts, system integrators, and public relations firms.

Among enterprise vendors, SAP is an industry leader in working with bloggers, so I thought it would be helpful to start the new year with a post that highlights the company’s Blogger Relations program.

SAP’s blogging outreach efforts are successful for three reasons, which other enterprise vendors should consider when creating their own blogging outreach strategy:

1. Ongoing relationship

SAP runs a formal blogging program that includes regular contact by phone, email, and Twitter; invitations to conferences and special events; and other opportunities to interact with SAP senior management, employees, and customers.

There are two primary contacts for bloggers at SAP, each of whom maintains an open-door policy. When I am working on a post and need a source, this means “one-click” access to virtually any employee in the company.

This convenience and accessibility simplifies gaining detailed information about SAP’s activities and products. The clarity of SAP’s message depends on the particular interviewee, but at least the opportunity for dialog is present.

2. Customized programming

SAP is attentive to the professional interests of bloggers in their program. As a result, each participant receives individual attention regarding his or her specific area of focus. In my case, for example, emphasis tends toward discussion around issues pertaining to projects and the intersection of business and IT. Other bloggers engage SAP in areas such as sustainability or enterprise technology.

This customized programming is especially significant when SAP holds events and arranges meetings with senior executives. Matching bloggers and executives who share specific interests helps keep the discussion relevant to all parties.

3. Mutual expectations

The relationship between SAP and bloggers requires substantial investment of time and effort for both sides. My “covenant” with any vendor is simple and fair: I seek straightforward access to information while the vendor has a right to balanced analysis.

Of course, SAP advances its perspective and I write about IT failures, so natural tensions are present. These tensions are healthy and help ensure that blog posts do not devolve into a glorified press release or a one-sided attack.

To learn more about the history and goals of SAP’s blogging program, I recorded this video with Mike Prosceno, the company’s Vice President of Social Media Relations:


Link to Youtube clip of Mike Prosceno / VP Social Media relations at SAP.


By demonstrating serious commitment to open up and engage, SAP now participates in conversations that previously eluded the company. This kind of personalization is difficult to achieve, especially for such a large company.

The blogging program actually represents an investment in the rapidly evolving future of corporate communications, which has seen barriers drop in traditional boundaries around media and analyst relations. Blogging offers a particular challenge to corporate communications because it does not fit easily into existing media or analyst definitions.

Serious enterprise bloggers are typically professional experts in some aspect of enterprise software, raising strong parallels with industry analysts. Unlike analysts affiliated with established firms, however, most bloggers are independent and have no contractual relationship with the vendor. At the same time, some industry analysts also write excellent blogs, which further blurs traditional distinctions.

To place these distinctions into broader context, I spoke with Jason Busch, Managing Director of analyst firm, Azul Partners. Jason is also a top enterprise blogger on procurement issues, writing at Spend Matters.

Here’s what Jason told me:

I’ve often found the transparency of bloggers to be a breath of fresh air relative to traditional industry analyst firms.

In general, the better tech bloggers in the enterprise space fully disclose clients, affiliations, advertisers/sponsors, etc. In contrast, traditional analyst revenue waters are often murky; you don’t know who is paying them or how much.

SAP was way ahead of the curve in recognizing the rising role of bloggers and the blurring of analyst/blogger distinctions. It’s probably the most prescient thing they’ve done from a marketing perspective.

My take. SAP understood early on that traditional corporate communications has shifted from a message-based orientation to identifying, building, and nurturing relationships with influencers.

Despite the maturity and excellence of its program, however, SAP now faces competition in blogging relations from other enterprise vendors, some of whom are catching up quickly. To maintain its lead, SAP must continue to innovate and invest in this area.

The growth of enterprise blogging as a recognized form is great news for technology buyers, who rely on independent sources of information when making important technology and business decisions.

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Join the IIAR for a teleconference on AR best practice at Mobile World Congress

Mobile World Congress 2010 (MWC) is now less than two months away and the clock is ticking. In past years up to 50,000 attendees showed up in Barcelona, all hoping to make the most out of the event. What’s the best strategy for successful AR in this kind of environment?

To answer that question and many more about the show, the IIAR has organised a teleconference panel of experts to discuss best AR practices for MWC and to share personal anecdotes.


Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

3.30 p.m. to 4.30 p.m. GMT/10.30 a.m. to 11.30 a.m. ET

Panelists include:

  • Amdocs, Brian McManus, Analyst Relations Director
  • CCS Insight, Ben Wood, Director of Research
  • Ericsson (panellist TBD)
  • Vodafone, Janine Aitken-Young, Senior Industry Analyst Relations Manager

If you would like to join the discussion, please email me for dial-in details at hkirkman (at) analystrelations (dot) org.

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What are the right staffing levels for AR?

There’s been an interesting conversation recently on one of the LinkedIn groups I belong to, and as the participants kindly gave me their permission to do so I thought I’d post it here for everyone’s benefit.

Gregg LampfIt started with a question from Gregg Lampf (AR + Marketing Director at SafeNet):

Are there any rules of thumb or recommended staffing levels for dedicated AR people in companies?

Marc Duke (independent, blog)  answered “1 in EMEA but it depends on size/scope or role and or if it involves mkt intelligence“.

Robert Eastman, MBA, CIARP Robert Eastman chipped in:

One of the better resources that I have seen on this is the book by William Hopkins (of the Knowledge Capital Group), Influencing the Influencers. You should really read this book to get the full color and context of their model. In short, however, the rule of thumb that this book proposes is one AR person for every 2-3 major business initiatives. It would not surprise me if the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, Sagecircle, Lighthouse Analyst Relations also had some advice or insight here. I would enjoy hearing what you find out. Could you share?

Efrem MallachAR guru Efrem Mallach added some good insight:

Firms tend to get a full-time AR professional when they reach annual revenue of about US$100 million. This is an average. Individual situations vary widely on both sides of this figure depending on the specific company situation. From there up the number grows, again very approximately, as the square root of revenue. A company would have about two FT people in AR at an annual revenue of $400 million or thereabouts, three at $1 billion and so on. This is a straight line on a semi-log graph.
These figures come from looking at a lot of companies in many areas of high-tech, plotting the two figures (annual revenue and analyst relations FT equivalent headcount) on a graph, and fitting a curve to where they cluster. T
hese are broad averages. You have to look at the breadth of a firm’s product line, how it breaks down vis-à-vis typical analyst practices, its geographic scope, who it sells to, its typical price points (they affect how much analysts influence its sales), etc., etc…, to come up with an appropriate number for a given firm. There is usually good business justification for spending more on AR than most firms do.

Ludovic Leforestier I agreed with Efrem:

It’s a decreasing curve that tends to flatten out at 1/$b revenue.
This said, the product mix is important: you need more AR managers for companies having a diverse s/w portfolio with a wide footprint, less for h/w typically.

So the best way to go is actually starting from the goals and the audience:

  • if the goal is to support sales directly, then 1 AR manager cannot follow more than 15 Tier I analysts (and that’s a big task).
  • if the job is more marketing oriented (producing white papers, doing more 1:many events) then this ratio can increase.

Tim O'SullivanTim O’Sullivan (EMEA AR for Deloitte) added:

I agree with Robert – all depends on what is important to the company. I would be loathe to make a recommendation based on revenue in anything except an affordability discussion (can we afford 1 more AR). The thing with revenue if you hire a new AR pro (even if you are a $1BN Revenue company) and they close 10 analyst related deals in a year worth $50M then you can afford it. Ludovic is correct about the product mix but services appears missing from the list – a diverse services based organisation would need a substantial team imo. Map the AR team objectives back to the strategic goals of the company – that shoudl give you a fair idea of what is important and allow you to structure a set of programs to support the corporate goals. Once you have these programs (either topic, geographic or some other structure) then you will have a fair idea through an AR Audit how many analysts you have to cater for and what your tactics are and therefore what the team size should be. Given the imoportance of AR and the different approaches in different companies I would be careful following rules of thumb and reccommend due dilignece and planning as the most prudent way to proceed.

Bob SakakeenyBob Sakakeeny (product manager at CA) gave another point of view:

If the average analyst impacts $2.3 million in revenue per year, with customer facing analysts more and vendor facing analysts less, then analyst relations’ staffing decisions can be disconnected from the company’s current revenues. An opportunity cost analysis helps management understand what they miss out on by not staffing AR rather than trying to figure out how to afford AR. Although AR has a statistically greater influence on customer decision making than PR does, companies still pour money into PR visability rather than AR effectiveness.

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