I’m often asked why vendors should invest into analyst relations (AR) when there’s already a fully-fledged media relations (PR) team?
To many analysts and AR pros, this may sound like an odd question, after all would you ask an electrician to install your plumbing?
However, I’ve observed many times in large corporations a trend for managers with a PR background taking over the management of AR teams –not always successfully I must say. In smaller companies, it is common to see marketing managers running AR on top of their other roles (sometimes very successfully if not consistently).
Most AR pros know analysts hate being dealt with by PR people. It’s a different audience, with different needs: analysts need deeper content, access to product management but care much less about newsworthyness: unlike journalists, there isn’t an expectation they will come out of a briefing with an article.
To me the issue boils down in three points.
1. Skillset isn’t the issue, audience knowledge and relationship might be
Good PR managers can become a good AR pros. What they must have though is product knowledge, which is not always the case. They must also be able to manage projects (such as a “landmark evaluation”) and be able to handle relationships with senior execs and experienced analysts.
As product knowledge goes, it might be worth looking at other profiles when seeking AR staff, such as product management (with people skills).
It’s a good manner to build a strong AR team, but they must be given latitude and empowered (I highly recommend this book BTW).
2. Metrics can conflict
PR types are often gauged on coverage volumes (aka “clippings”) and this leads to short termism, which is not not conclusive to good AR. In other words, goals between PR (an article in tomorrow’s WSJ for instance) and AR (turn around a relationship with a key influencers, which may take over 12 months) can be mutually exclusive as the urgent becomes important.
3. AR should be strategic
Treating analysts like journalists, i.e. using PR staff to deal with inquiries because it’s not possible to resource some AR FTE is better than not talking to them at all (although this could be debatable). However, it would only lead to basic gains, not those strategic advantages enjoyed by companies with a mature AR team.
- Fred McClimans: Outsourcing Analyst Relations: A viable option?