Published: August 2021.
Analyst & influencer Relations (AR) is a wide-ranging, challenging role, with specialist skills and a remit which touches on many different parts of an enterprise. Because AR touches on different aspects of the organisation ranging from product marketing to engineering, it encompasses a wide range of tasks and continues to evolve to include more. Compared to PR, analyst relations campaigns span across several months and managing multiple campaigns at once is common. Whether you are starting an analyst relations program for your organisation or on-boarding onto an established AR team, AR can seem daunting at first but a career in analyst relations can be very rewarding due to its value proposition in the eyes’ of internal stakeholders.
Analyst relations professionals build valuable relationships, turning analysts and influencers into trusted strategic advisors, advocates and prescribers to benefit corporate strategy, influence the brand, shape the product roadmap, and impact the sales funnel.
Below we outline the skills analyst relations role requires, reveal how much analyst relations roles can pay, put how roles within the AR function change as they increase in seniority under the spotlight, and finally break down analyst relations’s objectives.
Senior AR professionals are expected to have deep relationships with as many as 50 analysts and have intimate knowledge of analyst firms’ commercial aspects. It’s also expected at all levels to hold an IIAR> certification.
What is analyst & influencer relations (AR)?
This IIAR> Primer aims to clearly define the objectives, duties, and challenges of the analyst & influencer relations role –often shortened as Analyst Relations or abbreviated as AR. It outlines a simple and easy to understand template for AR roles across the industry.
Defining the AR role has become more essential as it continues to evolve into a more strategic position. Over recent years, AR professionals are increasingly taking on a strategic leadership role within their organisations by applying analyst insights to develop the roadmap and updating marketing messaging. Analyst Relations now means developing and maintaining long-term relationships, externally and internally, that help enable organisation to evolve with the market. Although coverage and execution are still a vital part of the role, they now sit within a wider, more influential, strategic framework.
The IIAR> defines analyst & influencer relations as follows:
Analyst & influencer relations (AR) professionals engage with industry analysts and other B2B influencers on behalf of technology vendors. They build relationships with the analyst community and drive conversations about vendors and their solutions to gain strategic insights, educate analysts to help them knowledgeably position vendors with their user clients and leverage analyst research and content for marketing purposes and advocacy with technology buyers.IIAR> Primer: What is analyst relations by Ludovic Leforestier (@lludovic, LinkedIn) and Trish Valladares (LinkedIn), August 2021.
What do AR people do?
First and foremost, analyst relations serves both industry analysts and internal stakeholders. This duality is vital to the function: AR brings value by bridging those two audiences and driving alignment via conversations and relationship building. Building strong relationships between your organisation and analysts requires a range of activities that touch on many different aspects of an enterprise that we will explain in further detail below.
The main goal of analyst relations, as ARInsights puts it, is to increase awareness and knowledge-sharing between vendors and a vital audience – industry analysts. Ultimately, the aim is to achieve key business goals via the analyst channel – improving your business’ reputation, improving your product, and making the right moves in the M&A space to increase revenue and reduce costs.
For industry analysts, AR is a necessary conduit into vendor organisations to gain the information they require to analyse the market and vendors. AR offers a free service to industry analysts and requires a significant investment (time and staffing) from vendors. Concretely, the AR function organises briefings and summits to inform analysts on the vendor company, its products and solutions, answers analysts questions and fills-in RFI’s for major evaluations such as the Gartner Magic Quadrant, the Forrester Wave, the IDC MarketScape, the GigaOm Market Radar, the ISG Provider Lens, etc.
On the vendor side, AR delivers value via the four categories in the IIAR> AR Compass, (the IIAR> framework for AR goals), for many internal stakeholders:
- Strategy: AR identifies the right influencers to drive insightful conversations to achieve the goals of expanding, tightening or tweaking strategy and refining positioning and messaging using input from analysts for the benefit of top executives and strategy teams, including Corporate Affairs, Corporate Development, the C-Suite and the Board at large, Corporate Strategy, Product Engineering and Product Marketing.
- Opinion: AR monitors and drives analyst coverage, both in syndicated and open research, traditional and open media, as well as analysts participation in conferences and industry events.
- Sales: AR tracks analysts’ influence on vendor revenues, ensures analysts can knowledgeably position current solutions and are aware of the vendors’ roadmaps. It can also help with sales training and developing sales tools to help address customer needs more efficiently, and help sales to ‘speak the language of the customer’.
- Marketing: AR supports marketing and communications with commissioned research, by leveraging syndicated research and analyst authority.
In conclusion, AR professionals manage relationships with technology’s very top influencers, industry analysts, impacting not only the entire buyer journey from awareness to contract negotiation but also short-listing.
- For vendors who employ or contract AR professionals, the benefits are greater than the amount added to the top-line because and act as sounding boards who can help vendors make the right decisions, potentially avoiding fatal or extremely expensive strategic mistakes. They are also trusted advisors who can advise on M&A and roadmap development.
- Analysts also have indirect and direct influence on sales by industry analysts shaping markets, creating categories and speaking directly to B2B buyers. AR enables them to knowledgeably position and recommend a vendor.
In other words, analyst relations is the greatest insurance policy a technology vendor can buy against expensive mistakes.
Whilst AR is often portrayed as a communications function, it is different in nature, outcomes and cadence. There are similarities: Both AR (analyst and influencer relations) and PR (media and public relations) professionals are experts at coaching spokespersons, crafting impactful pitches and fine-tuning their messages to their audiences. They’re excellent communicators who know how to read the room to react fast.
However, there are several key differences that make them very different functions altogether:
- Outcomes: where PR measures coverage volume, analyst conversations are frequently under NDA and insights from conversations often matter more than mentions in research.
- Timeframe: Where PR excels in quick turnaround and crisis management, the results of AR programs are rarely about immediate gratification because analyst research agendas are often set for a calendar year. The cadence of AR campaigns are orchestrated across months, sometimes spanning several years as opposed to reactively.
- Goals: whereas PR is geared towards coverage volume, AR’s focus is on building trusted relationships with analysts to gain strategic insights to avoid surprises and expensive mistakes. There are four impact of analyst relations: Strategic, Opinion, Sales and Marketing.
- Metrics: AR pros measure analyst perception, movements in major evaluations such as the Gartner Magic Quadrants, the IDC MarketScapes or Forrester Waves, or measurements against competitors such as Share of Voice or Net Market Impact, compared to PR pros who typically measure media coverage volume across news sources (and relative to competitors).
Analyst & influencer relations professionals have the ability to create huge value and their own level of influence internally and externally through their interactions with analysts. The AR role is varied, challenging, and very rewarding within their organisations.
By communicating internally with marketing, product engineering, and the C-Suite, the AR function can shift and improve the company’s strategy and roadmap to help keep a vendor’s product competitive. Externally, they have the chance to increase the visibility and reputation of a vendor, directly affecting the bottom line.
- Alexia O’Sullivan / EY
- Caroline Dennington / Dennington AR
- Noury Bernard-Hasan / Amazon
- Ricarda Rodatus / Oracle
- Robin Schaffer / Schaffer AR
APPENDIX: The AR job description
See the full PDF of this IIAR> Primer for the following topics:
- Analyst relations tasks and responsibilities
- Analyst relations reporting structure
- Analyst relations compensation and distribution
- Analyst relations job responsibilities by levels
- Analyst Relations objectives
- Analyst Relations skills
- Analyst Relations role requirement
- IIAR> Certification
- IIAR> Primer: Who are industry analysts and what do they do?
- IIAR> Webinar recap: What is analyst & influencer relations (AR)? (see recording below)
- IIAR> Primer: Analyst Relations and Industry Analysts – The 7+7+7 Golden Rules of Engagement
- IIAR> Primer: Future Shock: The Coming State of Analyst Relations
- IIAR> Primer: Why should startups and scale-ups have an analyst relations strategy?