I’m often asked why bother with AR when there’s already a fully-fledged PR team? To many analysts and AR pros, this may sound like a strange question, after all do you ask an electrician to do the plumbing?
However, I’ve seen many times in large corporations PR folks coming to manage AR teams (not always successfully I must say) and in small companies marketing types having to do AR on top of the rest (sometimes very successfully if not consistently).
Many AR pros, when asked will tell you analysts hate being dealt with by PR people. Analysts in fact hate being treated like journalists: sent a lot of content, not deep enough and expected to produce coverage.
For me, I guess the issue boils down in three points.
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).
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.
3. AR maturity model
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 an mature AR team.
Elsewhere on the interweb: