Wednesday, 15 February 2006

AR 101 series: Analysts and press quotes

David published Tuesday this most post after Tom Foremski of SiliconValleyWatcher wrote that vendors pay analysts for quotes:

Quotes for hire, interesting concept...

We obviously agree with David that this would be utterly un-ethical, but it's important to put the record straight:

We've never, ever, heard of anyone asking taking payment for quotes. We are very keen to hear if Tom can substantiate his allegations. We bet he can't and thus should retract.

PS (20/02/06): David in fact confused quotes and awards, which Frost & Sullivan charges for. Still not really ethical but not the same as charging for quotes.

This brings us to the subject of this AR 101: how can you leverage analysts in the media?

Analysts are, often rightly, viewed as thought leaders. Reporters value their insight, they are an invaluable ally to quickly nail down the issues around a topic and provide quotable material -all under tight deadlines. Journalists don't have the depth and experience of analysts, so a little help is welcome (an AR manager was heard saying recently that he believed the average VNU reporter age to be under 25...). So it's not a surprise that trade press often features analyst quotes.It's a good deal for analysts, they get exposure and it feeds their demanding ego. Some firms reward analysts for speaking to journalists, META was an example. This can lead to quote-happy analysts, some IDC analysts are particularly prolific as they produce so many cuts of the same data that every vendor can be a leader somewhere (read Give 'em all something - we need to sell reprints). Of course, too much goodness eventually hurts the analyst credibility...

So, how can AR managers leverage analysts to help their employer's profile in the media?

The most frequent tactics are:
  • To include analysts quotes in press releases. This is subject to approval, Gartner and IDC have formal processes ; Gartner and AMR only allow quotes from published material (but not FirstTakes or Symposium presentations).

  • To include analysts contact details in the press package sent to journalists, possibly with quotes.
PS (20/02/06): we received comments from AR managers and analysts saying those practices were highly ineffective -some journalists tend to deliberately ignore proposed quotes and go for "really independent" quotes. In other terms "shoveling quotes down a journo's throat will backfire and damage both vendor and analyst reputations." We would be interested in your comments on this...

Some additional tips:
  • Depending on the relationship the AR manager has with them, independent analysts will often be quite willing to provide quotes and be contacted by reporters.

  • It goes without saying that good AR managers will make sure that the analyst is briefed before reporters get the press release and that they have a (positive) opinion on the subject and contribute to the debate.

  • Good AR managers will also ensure that they use analysts that are consistent between what they tell reporters and what they publish.

  • Finally, some analysts are better at this game than others. A pedantic analyst speaking in 80 words sentences may not provide good quotable material to journalist and may even be mis-interpreted.

Other post in the AR 101 series:


Anonymous said...

Quite a few of the analyst for hire firms charged for quotes (I know for certain they did - don't know if they do now), Frost & Sullivan for example.

If I as a vendor contracted to them, I was charged on the number of times I (quasi analyst firm) mentioned you in the press.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

look at it this way. Would an analyst agree to be quoted for a company he/she did not know? How does he get to know them? If they are not clients chances are slim they would agree to a quote. So, while they would not specifically charge for a press release, they would not do one for a vendor which was not a client for some other revenue

Anonymous said...

Oh and by the way if I won one of your prestigious F&S awards......I paid you for this.

David Rossiter said...

Vinne, I partly agree. An analyst wouldn't (or shouldn't)agree to be quoted for a company that they didn't know.

But you don't have to be a client for the analyst to meet you and get to know you (at least that's not what I've found in Europe).

Dean Bubley said...

Well, I can state for certain that I´ve never had a
vendor suggest paying me for a quote, and nor have I
ever even thought of suggesting it.

The usual process is that I have a pre-briefing with a
vendor about an upcoming announcement, and if I appear
to be both knowledgeable & broadly positive, they
sometimes ask if I am willing to be quoted, or if they can get journalists to contact me if they want to get my views on the product & its related market.

The only slightly dodgy thing is that some vendors
will try & put words in my mouth in the guise of
making this process easier... suggesting an initial
version of the quote (which is typically over-effusive
"Company X is clearly wonderful and its new Product Y
will solve world hunger") which I then either edit or
rewrite completely in a more neutral and objective

Dean Bubley

Silicon Valley Guy said...

At least with Gartner, a vendor does not have to directly pay for a quote. However, permission to use a quote from published research requires that a vendor be a syndicated research client because according to Gartner policy ( the vendor has to specify the exact research note to pull the quote from. Because only clients can read research, only client vendors can request permission to use research as a quote.

I heard from a buddy at another vendor that had let their Gartner contract lapse that Gartner immediately cut off their ability to use Gartner research in quotes.

David is right that a vendor does not have to be a client to brief most major analyst firms (e.g., Forrester, Garter and IDC).

james governor said...

i am not sure why David would confuse the two. a briefing is obviously not the same thing as a press release quote.

David Rossiter said...

Can I please correct one of the amendments in your post.

I never mentioned Frost & Sullivan.

As you said in your original post, my piece was prompted by Tom's post on Silicon Valley Watcher in which he said that "Gartner and IDC and Forrester analysts usually provide such quotes and they are always paid by the company issuing the press release(!)"

And I agree with James' comment.