Since I began my communications career as a journalist, I learned early and often the importance of the technology industry analyst. In fact, one of my first assignments at EDN Magazine was writing an article about routers (yes, I’m dating myself, but I’m okay with it).
The first thing I did was call two of my favorite analysts at Gartner and Forrester, and I gave them a list of the products and companies I was interested in reviewing for my story. I asked if I was missing anything—any major brands I’ve left off the list? Any product launches coming up that I don't know about?
The Gartner analyst let me know that one of the companies on my list had just briefed him, and he suggested that I give their PR gal a call for details on a router they were about to launch later in the week. Well, that pretty much sums it up!
Yes, as a reporter I had to cover a lot of territory, but I wasn’t foolish enough to think I was always the expert. I made it my business to know which analysts specialized in key areas, got the early company briefings and enjoyed being quoted in the press. This is how most reporters work.
Once I switched to “the dark side”—what my editor at the time called PR—that’s when I started incorporating analyst relations into PR campaigns for my clients. I wanted to always have our launch plan, press release, succinct PowerPoint overview and demo in place two weeks before the launch date. During this time we would strategically brief analysts under embargo on the news we would be releasing in just 10 days.
This model allowed my executives to put their media training and messaging to the test on a knowledgable group of analysts in one-on-one meetings. During these meetings we would figure out which analysts were most excited about the news, could provide the right insights, understand the competitive landscape and would speak with reporters as an objective third party when the launch took place.
In some cases, executives got pushback on points they wanted to make during these analyst meetings, so they would learn how to make adjustments to their statements or provide better proof points.
The bottom line is that in any industry there are quality analysts to brief, and if you’re wise, you will build them into your planning and foster relationships with them. Remember, briefing technology industry analysts is a learned art and also takes doing your homework. The goal is simple: connecting with analysts so they better understand your client, the product, what it solves and why it matters. You need to make that storyline easy for them to understand, and you can’t do so by ignoring the competition. You must put your clients’ business in the context of what exists in the market and why anyone should care.
For Kathleen's top 5 tips for making the most of an analyst briefing, read Part 2 of this post.