By Donna St. Jean Conti, Founder, St. Conti Communications
Have you ever wondered why business-to-business companies should include an industry analyst outreach program as part of public relations activities? If so, you’re not alone. In the 20 years that St. Conti Communications has provided public relations services to high-technology and other business-to-business companies, we’ve been asked that many times, so many, in fact, that we created a primer on the topic. And, now we’ve decided to share.
Let’s start with what an industry analyst is. An industry analyst (not to be confused with a financial analyst who primarily makes investment recommendations) is an individual who follows an industry segment and writes about its ongoing advances, topics and trends. These analysts, as a group, are made up of individuals in the trade press as well as in market research organizations such as Gartner, Inc. and Strategy Analytics. There are dozens of such organizations—each with its own special focuses. Cormac Foster at readwrite best describes what these organizations do in his article, “An Insider’s Guide to Technology Analysts,” when he states that they, “provide educated gut checks before making major strategy moves, for help mapping competitive landscapes and to get the dirt on vendor features and pricing you can’t find anywhere else.”
Suffice it to say that industry analysts are highly influential in educating the markets on which they report about the merits of a company and what it has to offer. They do this directly by producing research reports that buying companies reference, and they do it indirectly by responding to editorial queries, which frequently influences industry trade publication content. For these reasons, every company should consider implementing a public relations outreach program—an industry analyst relations program—designed to keep them informed.
Sectors and Roadmaps
As mentioned, industry analysts define and report on a business sector to provide a picture of its boundaries, who the main competitors are, and where the sector is going. The intelligence gathered is useful to the editorial community as well as to potential investors and organizations looking to partner or form alliances. Industry analysts compile and publish industry reports for purchase by subscribing companies looking to use the information for their planning and purchasing purposes. They also sometimes publish their own articles. Additionally, editors and reporters reach out to analysts for their insights and comments on key industry players. The more industry analysts know about a company, its roadmap, and its place in a sector, the more likely the company is to be mentioned in reports and/or or in editorial query responses.
Because industry analysts are trying to gauge a sector and a company’s placement in it, briefings focus on the industry trends and market landscapes. In general, it is good to provide your product roadmap, otherwise known as a product/services timeline. Information also can include anything from planning to attract customers in a new vertical market and expanding product features to looking for companies with which to partner.
What to Provide
Industry analysts want up-to-date, information-packed materials–ones that truly explain what a company is about and what its products and services are while providing information about the technology behind them. This information includes company milestones or accomplishments that allow analysts to see a timeline of events, which helps them in creating profiles.
When preparing your presentation, write materials using clear, concise language. Industry jargon and acronyms must be explained. Limit your presentation length to approximately 25 slides, keeping company information to just a few slides. It is best to place executive biographies and frequently asked questions (FAQs) at the end of the presentation, so that what’s most important to the analyst—what the company is doing—is up front. This helps ensure that all of the key points are covered should the briefing run too long or get interrupted. Be prepared to provide a copy of the presentation and the company’s most recent news releases sometimes even before the meeting as many analysts like to prepare questions ahead of time.
Dan Richman at GeekWire provides additional, helpful information about what influences industry analysts is in his article, “Influencing the influencers: Where tech industry analysts look for expertise and information.” Richman mentions that, in essence, industry analysts get their information from other analysts and writers. Something to keep in mind is that, when a public relations agency is at work keeping key editors and analysts informed, it is a company’s subject matter experts who’ve provided the information to those analysts and writers via briefings.
So, now you should have a better idea of who industry analysts are, where they fit in the information stream, and why it is important for business-to-business companies to include industry analyst relations programs as part of public relations activities. For help in identifying what analysts to contact and brief and in creating presentation materials, consult with a seasoned public relations agency such as St. Conti Communications.