Tuesday, 26 June 2007

AR 101 Series: It pays to play with PR

Sally in Getting Ink (via ARcade) reminds AR pros that we can help our PR colleagues by providing them with analyst names to educate those journos: Things you might like to know (3).

How does it work in practice then?

1. Crawl before you walk
Firstly, this assumes that you have done your homework and know what research area your analysts cover. More importantly, you should know what they have published and have a good idea of what their opinion is on your company and the topic. AR should always be one step ahead of PR and some key analysts should be pre-briefed under NDA.

2. Which analyst?
Ideally a mix of Tier 1's and independent analysts should be pre-briefed. Tier 1's because they advise customers and therefore should a aware of your company's roadmap and strategy. Selected independent analysts should be briefed before, because they are an excellent sounding board and a great manner to get your spokesperson perfectly rehearsed before she/he talks to the Borg. Plus, independent analysts crave for air time and will make themselves available for journos more so than a Tier 1 about to catch a flight to Frankfurt, Boston or San Francisco.
Make sure you don't use always the same ones and that the analysts you put forwards are credible (i.e. they must have some knowledge and opinions, so that rules our Frost & Sullivan, Datamonitor, some IDC folks, etc...)

3. Which deliverables?
There are a few ways to help your PR colleague, depending on your bandwidth (of if you fancy him/her). All should be free (except villains), some require permission.

  • Provide names of analysts willing to comment. Easy but make sure you call the analyst and that he/she is available for comments.
  • Provide a quote for the press pack. Brief the analyst and ask for a quote by email (best to avoid mis-representation). Doctoring the quote is a no-no but you did not even think about doing this.
  • Provide a quote into the press release. This requires authorisation: figure out what the analyst FIRM position is, ask for the quote, submit the release with the quote for approval (IDC, Gartner, AMR, Forrester have a formal process, it's also good practice with the others). Make sure you run the release with legal (your PR colleagues should take care of this). For IDC, you need to work out which market number will support your claim and quote the source. In the footnotes, direct the journos to the analyst firm's press office.

4. Create the news

You can also commission a survey or a report to a firm and create a complete press release around it. This requires months, not days, but can generate significant coverage. Make sure you know who's paying upfront...

4. Beware

Don't be eaten alive by the PR vampires: they have a tendency to suck your time and make you work in reactive mode only.

Related posts:


Jon Collins said...

Remind me to check whether the Gartner analyst is being briefed first, before me! I'd hate to be briefed by an unreheased spokesman :-)

Dale Vile said...

Come on Jonno - know your place!

Spend long enough as the warm up act for Gartner, though, and who knows, one day you might grow up to be proper analyst and start actually influencing all of those CIOs and architects you keep talking to, who are obviously just humouring you at the moment to be polite :-)

Then again, perhaps you should stop wasting your time and get back to working those journalists :-)

ARonaut said...

We should have phrased this differently.

The rationale for scheduling briefings in this order is that Borg analysts give very little feedback, whereas five independent analysts in a room make an interesting conversation. As one need to start briefing someone first, it's best to do so with people who actually will help you.

Dale Vile said...

We actually had quite a little chuckle about it so no worries ARonaut :-)

You are quite right in your analysis and we little guys are always happy to help out in the way you describe.

On the specific point about craving press coverage, while it is true that some smaller analysts court the journalist community heavily to maximise the number of times they are quoted, that is not the case with firms like MWD and Freeform. We are always happy to take journalist calls, of course, but the press to us is more of a channel through which we can achieve broad distribution of our output - i.e. the thing that really matters from our perspective is the publication of content we author (columns, feature pieces, research summaries, reports, etc), rather than simply coverage through getting our names mentioned in other people's articles.

I thought it would be worth making this point as the two motivations are quite different and there seems to be a lot of misunderstanding about what we do and why with the media among AR folks.

To put it simply, the purpose of our media relationships is to provide us with greater reach into our target audiences, rather than to drive PR and recognition. The latter is merely a spin-off.

Hope that helps.

ARonaut said...

The boundary is quite thin but AR folks should leverage their in-house PR machine to help analysts getting coverage. This in turn promotes relationships that AR maintains.