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?