AR managers do not like surprises, which mean they are a little annoyed at blogging analysts

icon-social-media-blue.jpgObviously SageCircle is a big proponent of social media and the potential for positive impact on the analyst ecosystem. However, that view is not shared by all AR professionals. I recently had an interesting conversation with an AR manager who was more than a little irritated with major firm analysts who blog. Are these normal growing pains in the evolution of the AR-analyst relationship or is this a nascent backlash?

A big part of this person’s annoyance was centered on the lack of discipline and rigor in the analysts’ blogging versus normal research publishing. Some points included:

  • Commenting on technologies or products outside the analyst’s normal coverage area
  • Lack of usual research rigor
  • Subverting publishing process
  • No vendor review process (an especially sore point)
  • Writing only paragraphs instead of pages
  • No advanced warning to vendors when a major commentary is being published on a blog
  • Undisciplined approach, attitude of fun

These are all reasonable observations because the blogging process today is quite different from the formal methodologies that many firms have established. This is especially true for those analysts who use their blogs as places to work out new ideas (see Because analysts are increasingly using blogs as development platforms, AR has to participate to be part of the conversation).

The AR manager said that the analysts have not thought out the implications of an informal move to blogging. They then asked some rhetorical questions:

  • Do analysts want vendors to publicly comment on errors in their blog posts?
  • Have the firms thought about the impact on the firm’s brand?
  • Do the analysts want to be known as sober analysts backed by solid research versus wild-eyed pundits spouting only opinions with little value add?
  • Do analysts want to be treated like bloggers, e.g., provided less or no access to executives and domain experts?

Again, the AR manager has some valid points. Poorly written, poorly fact-checked blog posts could damage both the firms’ and analysts’ credibility. I could see vendor sales teams using an analyst as an advisor on a deal direct prospects to the analyst’s blog posts where both basic factual errors and perceived analytical shortcomings are being debated in public.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR managers should communicate their concerns about analyst blogging to the firms, either directly or through SageCircle
  • Analyst firms should articulate where blogging fits into the overall deliverables scheme with a clearly defined role
  • Analyst firms should systematically survey vendors to determine the attitude toward analyst blogging
  • Analyst firms should examine how blogs can incorporate research rigor, without compromising the spirit of blogging
  • Analyst firms should notify vendors when a significant piece of commentary is posted

Bottom Line: The annoyance of blogging by some members of the AR community is natural, as with any new trends. Analyst firms can ensure that this annoyance does not escalate into a backlash by working with the vendor community on the firms’ blogging policies and direction.

Question:

AR managers – Do you have concerns about blogging analysts? If yes, what are those concerns? If no, why not?

Analyst firms – Do the concerns of this AR executive surprise you? Are you working on ways to incorporate blogging into the formal research methodology?

Are you thinking about experimenting with social media? SageCircle can Help – Social media represents new opportunities and challenges to AR teams. SageCircle can help AR teams by:

  • Providing on-site or distance learning sessions to get AR teams up to speed on social media and how it might be adopted
  • Acting as a sounding board as you brainstorm how to add social media to the AR tool box
  • Advising on how to develop a pilot program to experiment with social media
  • Playing the role of analyst in social media experiments and providing critiques of how the experiment went

SageCircle strategists understand your opportunities, challenges and priorities because we have been AR practitioners and executives as well as industry analysts and AR researchers. SageCircle emphasizes the use of phone-based inquiry through its Advisory Service, which is your lifeline when you need timely access to an AR and analyst expert to exploit an opportunity or mitigate a problem. Advisory is available through an annual “all you can eat” contract or blocks of two or five hours “by the drink.” Click here to learn more about our advisory services.

Call 650-274-8309 or e-mail info (at) sagecircle dot com for more information. Also follow Carter’s commentary www.twitter.com/carterlusher to get a feel for how information is now being transmitted using micro-blogging.

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4 Responses

  1. I must say I have little sympathy for the AR manager who wants to control an analyst’s blog.

    One of the great joys of reading an analyst’s blog is to see the analyst share her or his thinking out loud. Yes, it’s not fully formed; yes, it might hurt a bit. But it is also a wonderful set of insights, since most formal research notes have had any personality or juice squeezed out of them, between peer review and editors.

    Analysis, at the end of the day, is a task that is grounded in the analyst. Personality and style should come through (even though the analyst firms would like us to believe that they are filled with interchangeable parts — and I speak as someone who has borne the burden in the past of becoming well-enough defined to not be considered substitutable in the field).

    There are far too many people who deeply want to control everything that will ever be said about their firm, rather than do the job required to ensure that what might be said in passing didn’t need to be controlled in the first place.

  2. Hi Bruce, Thanks for the comment.

    I think that there a few dynamics happening here.

    1. People do not always embrace change at first, especially when the change transforms long established routines
    2. A lot of people are still learning about the culture of blogging so they don’t get it
    3. Some experienced AR pros do think of their jobs as “control” not education
    4. Many AR pros are held “responsible” by their executives about what an analyst says. If an analyst is perceived to be a loose cannon, the AR pro will immediately think “uh oh, problem.” There is nothing less fun than having an executive scream at you because of analyst commentary… I know from personal experience.

    Let’s not put all the blame on AR professionals who “don’t get it.” There is a wider debate going on whether people can be irresponsible when they blog and if there are limits to the wild west blogging. There can be a reasonable debate between AR and analysts about how this medium fits into the analyst commentary framework that does not impinge on the analysts and the blogging spirit, but also takes into account some legitimate AR concerns.

  3. Hi Carter. Thanks for the post. Been late reading it (busy as hell).

    Analysts are still the same people when they blog. Professional ones (which I assume are the majority) will not break embargos or publish unchecked facts without caveats. However, they are entitled to opinions and they will still be thinking about the impact of these opinions on their credibility and reputation as analysts.

    I would hope (but haven’t checked all of them) that blog comments are open and that’s a good way for AR people to respond. I, for one, always welcome that kind of dialogue.

    It’s not quite the same as submitting the blog to the AR person for sanitisation (sorry about the ‘s’). But then I would think that any analyst that considers that to be a good career move needs their head examined.

  4. […] am sure that some AR old timers are thinking “Is this guy nuts!?! He is going to get pounded by the analysts in […]

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