When putting together a new year’s AR plan, it’s vital to start with a strategy and not a calendar. Starting with a calendar means focusing only on those analyst houses that publish calendars.
Many analyst relations (AR) programmes tie one hand behind their back by centring their work on analysts’ research calendars. However, many firms don’t actually publish planned research schedules, and those that are published are not necessarily comprehensive and will not outline all the planned research for the upcoming year. Better results can be achieved instead by using proactive, programmatic analyst relations.
As an AR professional, I am often asked by my clients to put together a list of upcoming analyst reports. Unlike trade media publications, analyst firms don’t necessarily have a calendar outlining what their analysts will be focusing on in the upcoming year. Some firms may publish a rough guide for the year, but this is just a guide—they will look beyond these to the broader industries they operate in. Analysts constantly need to update their knowledge, follow industry developments and examine new and disruptive technologies. If the industry is moving at lightning speed, analysts must do the same—or risk being left behind and losing their clients. IDC and Ovum, for instance, have freely-available future-planned research schedules, but they won’t necessarily be 100% complete. Publishing a schedule of upcoming research attracts vendors’ attention and works as an effective sales tool showing what will be received with a subscription.
Some reports such as Gartner Magic Quadrants, Forrester Waves and IDC Market Scapes take a long time to compile due to the vast amount of data involved. Many companies who are mentioned in those reports opt to buy the reprints so, by publicising what research they are working on—especially flagship reports—firms have the potential to increase their revenue. However, AR professionals must be careful not to take the planned research calendars as gospel and as the only themes that the analysts will be focusing on this year. Analysts’ research is constantly evolving, and they write about current and future trends as well as any emerging issues. And some schedules are simply not available to the general public.
As AR professionals, we can compile a list of analysts’ planned research from our general knowledge about the company and its analysts, but this list will never be 100% complete. This is not surprising. Any planned research tracker is also an evolving document, updated with any new reports that the AR team discovers. Throughout the year, the team needs to meet regularly with key analysts for their clients as well as the wider analyst community. These relationships mean insight into what analysts are working on and ensures that the AR team can provide them with the necessary information for any relevant reports.
It is also important that the AR team keeps the wider analyst community informed by sending out news stories as they are published as well as quarterly newsletters featuring news, case studies, webinars, and more. These will encourage analysts to get in touch if they require information, showing that your team is open to any inquiries, and nothing is too much trouble. This approach and attitude is greatly appreciated by analysts, making their job—and yours! —so much easier. Sometimes, analysts have report ideas but don’t have an exact direction: receiving regular information from vendors means a chance to influence what they will write about next.