Analyst Relations: musings over the festive break

After returning to the world of work from the recent holiday break, I was recounting a conversation that I had with some acquaintances at an informal get together. “So, what do you do?” was the question. “I work in Analyst Relations,” I said. Now I know from previous experience, usually a glazed look appears on the questioner’s face as I try to explain what I do. But, not this time!

I wanted to impress and make sure that my answer would follow on with more engaging conversation — this had absolutely nothing to do with how handsome this questioner was. You see Analyst Relations (AR) is not the rocket science it’s sometimes thought to be. It does not have any magic formula. Rather, it’s important to understand that AR has a unique place in B2B communications strategy, and it should be one of the first functions you start to engage with as part of your overall marketing strategy. Unlike Media Relations, AR is often a programme that works under NDA and as such, it forms part of the strategic build-up and positioning of a company.

The changing face of AR

During the break, I also pondered what I believe to be the biggest change in AR today: the impact of social media. Influential analysts aren’t just reporting houses. They are often independent and use social media to their advantage, to comment on a range of social platforms. In many ways, it’s no longer enough to be the small handful of well-known brand houses championing mega reports. Media consumption and people’s reading habits have changed. We have less time and shorter attention spans. Social commentary and pertinent insights often trump a 30-page report. The important thing here is that you look in the right places and always keep an open mind.

Who benefits from AR?

Looking back at the seventeen years that I’ve worked on AR programmes, I believe that gone are the days when AR was a proposition solely for large multinational enterprise companies, with big teams and even bigger budgets. With the proliferation of markets and emerging technologies — everything from virtual reality and robotics, to AI and drones — AR is for everyone. In fact, in my experience, start-ups are often more AR savvy than established firms, in that they approach AR early on and work with analysts around strategy and positioning, not just ad-hoc announcements.

Measuring the success of AR

AR can be hard to measure and it’s vital that you, as the AR professional, forge strong relationships, not only with the analyst community, but also with your sales teams. Ensuring that your sales teams are armed with the right knowledge and have relationships with key sales influencer analysts, will only stand your company in good stead for future RFPs with potential customers. It’s all about match-making to speed up the sales conversion process.

Future trends in AR

I believe that the biggest trend will be the decreasing focus on short-term engagement and mega reports. It’s no longer about 30 pages of text and speaking to analysts once a week before the product launch and then never again. AR must be about early and ongoing engagement with continuous momentum.

Fionnula Fitzsimons (@Fionnula), Head of Analyst Relations and Market Strategy, Bite