Archive | AR Best practices

AR and social media: it’s the interaction stupid!

I’m back from the Forrester IT Forum last week, where I was invited to the AR Council (thank you @liz_pellegrini).
There I stumbled on a nice graph (right) published on John Rymer’s blogs and thought it summarises pretty well why AR should care about SocMed.
My research lifecycle
Many of my peers see blogs as an output for free research and Twitter as drinking from a chit-chat firehose. My argument there is that they’re missing the point.

Here’s the reasoning:

  1. Social media is declarative (people say what they want, where they want and choose to participate or not). This means you need to interact with a given audience where they are -on Twitter, Foursquare, LinkedIn or in the good old fashion way, at the pub. And chose the appropriate topic for the appropriate channel.
  2. Social media is a conversation -it’s the place to discuss and interact. I take many briefing requests from analysts on Twitter, post some comments on their blogs (if I’ve got something relevant to say and that complies with my employer’s blogging guidelines), all that to say it’s not a one way street.
  3. DO: use SocMed as a research tool. John is illustrating well how an analyst can test an idea, exchange with other analysts (this point is far tool little documented actually), etc.  But it’s also a great research tool for AR pros to see what analysts are thinking about.
  4. Timing is everything. Research is nothing if not followed up by actions: being better connected with web 2.0 tools allows AR managers to insert the right proofpoint, topic, idea, in a conversation with much better chances of being picked up by analysts because it’s more relevant to their research agenda. The idea is to switch away from being reactive to being more proactive.

Nothing really revolutionary as good AR mangers already do all this by calling regularly their key analysts, but social media is a conversation accelerator, allowing AR pros to follow more analysts and interact with them in a more timely and proactive fashion.

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IIAR Discussion Group: IIAR Best Practices Paper “Making The Case for AR”

This teleconference features the Analyst Strategy Group (ASG) and is scheduled for Thursday, June 10th from 16:00 to 17:00 BST/11:00 EST/8:00 PDT. Tom Ryan, Partner and Chief Research Officer (LinkedIn) and Rob at ASG will share their insights on Making The Case for AR.

Over the past eighteen months, most companies have been seriously affected by the global economic recession. In many cases, budgets across all departments have been trimmed to the bone; but Analyst Relations (AR) programs seem to have been particularly hard hit. Increasingly, AR teams are asking:

– What can we do to keep at least the base of our budget intact?

– How can I defend my AR budget?

– How do I make the case for AR?

The IIAR> Best Practices Paper, “Making the Case for Analyst Relations,” by Tom Ryan (@tom_asg  LinkedIn) and Rob Kolokousis (@rob_ASGLinkedIn) identifies the four principles for building solid executive-level sponsorship for your AR program. Continue Reading →

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[Guest post] V3: It’s All About the Analysts

There is a kind of Google out there in the realm of IT industry analyst firms, a purveyor that turns the successful models of the “Big Three,” Gartner, Forrester and IDC, on their proverbial ears.  This little firm does not market itself very much; it rather eschews the “branded analyst firm” approach where analysts largely become subsumed in the one-to-many brand-first approach, hoping for margins that impress boards and investors.  Rather it aims for some simple values:  It purely focuses on serving its affiliated analysts and helping its affiliated analysts service their clients.  Maybe you have heard of “V3.”

I challenge you to find V3 on the Web:  The URL is actually not www.v3.com but www.valleyviewventures.com – like International Data Corporation goes quite strictly by “IDC” these days, but the URL just hasn’t been changed yet.  You will not be awed by the V3 web site, but that doesn’t matter one iota to Fred Abbott, V3′s founder, who says with utter sincerity, “It’s all about the analysts.” Continue Reading →

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Recap of the IIAR May 6th Teleconference on AR best practice at analyst-firm sponsored events

Last week, the IIAR hosted a teleconference about best AR practices at analyst sponsored events like Gartner Summits, Forrester IT Forums or IDC Directions.

Many thanks to the featured panelists for taking their time to share their insights and taking questions from the members.

  • Gerry Van Zandt / HP, Worldwide Analyst Relations Manager (@gerryvz,LinkedIn)
  • Kent Cook/ Microsoft, Director Corporate Analyst Relations
  • Bill Reed / St. Cross Group, Managing Director (former IBM manager of industry analyst relations, EMEA) (LinkedIn)
  • Sandeep Thawani / Mahindra Satyam, Head of Marketing and Communications, Europe (LinkedIn)

Here are some highlights from the discussion.

  • AR must help identify the right events to focus on
  • Invest in fewer events, and look closely at attendee list
  • In general ROI for participating at events is difficult to ascertain
    – Short term ROI – measured in blog postings, published notes, twitter notes
    –   Long term ROI – shifted analyst perceptions(change in annual vendor rating report)
  • In general ROI for participating at events is difficult to ascertain
  • Do as much as you can as early as you can
  • These events are not opportunities for briefings & knowledge transfer
  • Follow-up after the event, generating conversations afterwards is what results in knowledge transfer

IIAR members will be able to access more detailed notes from the teleconference by logging into the members area at https://analystrelations.org/members-area.

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IIAR discussion group: AR best practice for analyst events

IIAR discussion group: AR best practice for analyst events by Ed Gyurko.

The IIAR will hold a discussion group teleconference on the subject of AR best practice at analyst-firm sponsored events like Forrester’s IT Forums,Gartner Symposia and IDC Directions on Thursday 6th May 2010 from 1500 BST to 1600 BST / 10:00am EST to 11:00 am EST. The discussion will cover all levels of participation from simply attending to main sponsorship.

We’ve got a great line up of panelists:

  • Gerry Van Zandt / HP, Worldwide Analyst Relations Manager (@gerryvz, LinkedIn)
  • Kent Cook/ Microsoft, Director Corporate Analyst Relations
  • Bill Reed / St. Cross Group, Managing Director (former IBM manager of industry analyst relations, EMEA) (LinkedIn)
  • Sandeep Thawani / Mahindra Satyam, Head of Marketing and Communications, Europe (LinkedIn)

IIAR members who would like to join should RSVP on huddle or by email or to jcourtenay at analystrelations dotte org.

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[GUEST POST] Doing a Joint Announcement with Your Competitors

Today’s guest post is from John Simmonds (@johnsimonds) from IBM AR, read more on his blog here.

Recently, I’ve done joint announcements with Oracle, SAP, HP, Tibco, Software AG and HP. As you can imagine, I’ve had varying relationships with each and I’m happy to report that the state of the A/R industry is good and that we can work together.

When I was in PR, it was cat fight supreme with territorialism and turf wars. Most of the announcements I did with these companies didn’t have that element. For the most part, the announcements were about standards, not products. So that went a long way towards working together. Still, if you include IBM, the companies I’ve named here aren’t known for being best buddies.

As and aside, I can say that the executives (who can be the source of most problems) all worked towards the cause of the best briefing possible.

Some things are given, like in a certain area (we just did SOA) the analysts know the exec’s by company and the exec’s know each other so I’m happy to report they acted like grown ups.

TURF WARS

With the typical name calling (from the CEO’s)and belief in your own products, the first issue to overcome is that the announcement is usually about a jointly create product or standard, not us vs. them.  That rule has to be set down first and if you don’t overcome that, you have no chance at building trust, the basis for working together.

DIVIDE THE DUTIES

One company can’t dominate the duties or it is not a joint announcement.   This also forces the companies to work together to approve what the others have created as their part of the announcement.   There are analyst lists, invitations, charts, follow up issues and any number of duties that need to be attended to and dived up.  Once that is done, you must rely on each other and the level of trust inherently rises.

THE ANNOUNCEMENT

It’s important that the analyst see this as equal amongst the companies.  One company presenting more than another is a dead give away.  You can’t help Q and A as the analysts will direct the question directly to a company.

LESSONS LEARNED

You either put your differences aside and work together, or you’ll never get anything done.  It’s tough to do when your day job is to hammer the company that you are working with on the announcement.  These are the days of co-opetition though.  You learn to get along or you’ll never make it to announcement day.

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How far should an NDA go?

Jeff Mann from Gartner (@JeffMann) blogged yesterday about NDA Games.

It’s an interesting subject, in particular with respect to what useage analysts are allowed to make of information disclosed in an NDA briefing, or to spell it out, a briefing during which the information exchanged is disclosed under a “Non Disclosure Agreement”.

Just to go back a little on the basics, and as Jonny (@jonnybentwood) points out, the ability to exchange non-public information (to a certain extent, because publicly traded companies are subject to some rules on equal access to information towards investors and shareholders, so it should not be material infomation to the sense the SEC understands it) is what differentiates a press interview from an analyst briefing. It’s also one of the things that make this relationship much more interesting and insightful if you ask me. Most firms, such as Gartner, have “blanket” NDA’s with large vendors.

The vendor Jeff mentions should not however say a whole briefing is under NDA, but AR people should take great care in flagging (before and after, as I train my spokespersons to do) what’s under NDA and what’s not. Clearly, what happenned there is not best practice.

Except that talking too soon about a new product can kill sales for today’s product. Some vendors are very good about talking about futures and not selling what they have, but clearly that’s a pre-do-crash business model, not one for today’s business environment.

Any thoughts on how to reconcile this with the need to brief analysts on what’s coming so that their research is accurate?

And question to Jeff and other analysts: can you elaborate on “what’s in it for a vendor to brief you on roadmap/futures?” I think I know some of it but I’m interested in the answers…

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Latest IIAR Best Practice Paper – Making the Case for Analyst Relations

By Thomas Ryan (LinkedIn)

Over the past eighteen months, most companies have been seriously affected by the global economic recession. In many cases, budgets across all departments have been trimmed to the bone; but Analyst Relations (AR)  programs seem to have been particularly hard hit. Increasingly, AR teams are asking:

  • What can we do to keep at least the base of our budget intact?
  • How can I defend my AR budget?

or more generally,

  • How do I make the case for AR?

The IIAR’s latest Best Practice Paper, “Making the Case for Analyst Relations,” identifies the four principles for building solid executive-level sponsorship for your AR program.  Each principle is explored in terms of how AR programs today are effectively – and ineffectively – applying the principle’s key elements.  Examples from successful AR programs are provided to illustrate how each principle can be adapted to your organization’s culture, objectives, and expectations. Continue Reading →

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Latest IIAR Best Practices Paper – A New Foundational Approach to Analyst Tiering

By Susan Galer (@smgaler, LinkedIn)

Everyone knows the industry analyst relations landscape has changed with firm consolidations, resultant influencer moves and content proliferation across an explosion of new channels. In a headlong rush to understand and exploit this new world, it’s easy to get reactive and lose focus on what really matters: having the right information to make the right decisions about working in the best way with analysts most relevant to an organization’s business objectives.

The IIAR’s latest Best Practices Paper, “Beyond Best Practices: Industry Analyst Tiering for Business in the Real Word,” sheds some light on a new foundational approach to sort out which analysts matter to a company, and develop a rationale for optimal engagement strategies. As the title suggested, this paper goes beyond traditional best practices to offer a step by step guide for navigating the industry analyst community in the context of real world challenges. It’s designed to help teams get the in-depth knowledge needed for accurate decision-making about who to engage with and why. Included are answers and suggestions for handling difficult situations thereby mapping advice to situations faced every day.

In many ways, analyst tiering is foundational to industry analyst relations program success. Armed with information about who analysts are and how they form opinions, practitioners can figure out how to work together for mutual advantage. When done correctly, analyst tiering positions the industry analyst relations team as trusted advisors, and lays the groundwork for relationship building to achieve organizational success. We welcome your thoughts and feedback on this important topic.

 

IIAR members can access this paper on our extranet: Industry Analyst Tiering for Business in the Real World

 

 

IIAR Best Practice Paper on tiering

 

Other AR Best Practice posts

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Scheduling made easy?

tetris-blocks[1]Thanks to James, I’ve just discovered Tungle.me, 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 tungle.me, 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), tungle.me 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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[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.

NUMBER 1, IT’S ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP

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.

NUMBER 2, WHAT IS THEIR BACK CHANNEL

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.

NUMBER 3, IS MY EXECUTIVE THE BEST HE/SHE CAN BE?

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] 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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