Why reporters call the wrong analysts

icon-the-press-110w.jpgHow many times have you seen an analyst quote in the press and wondered “well why did the reporter contact that analyst” or “if that reporter had contacted someone familiar with us we would have been more favorably mentioned”?

Reporters use a variety of sources to gain content for their articles and frequently quote analysts to add credibility to their data, observations, or opinions. Sometimes it seems that some publications have a policy that each article contain at least one industry analyst quote. In some cases the analyst is named, while at other times the reference might be “a leading analyst from <firm name>” or “according to <firm name> analysts.

Unlike quotes in your press releases you have little control over these analyst quotes.  Or do you?  If you are working closely with your counterparts in PR you can work to change or at least update the analysts who provide quotes.

Determine the contacts

Often PR reports a list of press quotes related to your market or company.  If you scan those records for analyst quotes you will frequently see a pattern.  Reporters have a rolodex of “go to contacts” that they use regularly.  Often this list has developed over time and the analysts may not be as relevant or influential in that market as when they first appeared on the list.  Busy reporters do not have the time to constantly seek new contacts. Some analysts are in the rolodex simply because they make it a priority to return reporters’ phone calls in a timely manner – something that anyone under deadline appreciates.

If PR has a good relationship with the reporter you may be able to ask the reporter who they frequently use or suggest alternate contacts.  If PR does not have that relationship you may have to develop the list over time watching quotes.

Influence the list

If you have an opportunity to influence the reporter’s list be sure you have first contacted your key analysts, determined which ones would like to be a press contact, and assessed their current perception of your firm or products.  We have heard analysts remark that vendors do not always ask their opinion before using them as a reference and then are surprised when they get a bad quote about a new product or service.

Provide the reporter with contact information for a list of analysts by product or service so they can better select an available and relevant analyst.  All reporters will be happy to receive suggestions for analyst contacts and even if you do not think you are able to influence the reporter your suggestions may be taken over time.  Because the analyst landscape is dynamic this should be an ongoing process.

Keep the analyst informed

If you suggest a press quote then you have taken on the responsibility to keep that analyst current on your strategies, products, and services.  Ensure the analyst is not surprised by an announcement by always giving then advance notice of activities, even if they are not favorable.  Even seemingly bad press can be somewhat mitigated by an informed analyst providing positive feedback.

If you are unable to change the reporter’s contact list you might consider working with the “uninformed” analyst to educate them and work on getting favorable quotes.  Sometimes a tier three analyst might have to receive a bit more of your resource to impact their thinking.  You should balance the influence of that reporter and that analyst when making your resource allocations.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Keep a record of analyst quotes by reporter related to your market
  • Work with PR to see if you can determine the reporter’s “go to” contact list
  • Ensure that the analysts you suggest are always up to date and given advance information
  • Update your suggested list often and keep the reporters informed
  • Provide quoted analysts with a bit more attention, even if they are generally tier three

Bottom Line: Reporters often use out-dated contact lists and you do have the opportunity to suggest more favorable analysts that may be quoted.  Working with PR on this activity may also strengthen your internal relationships.

Question: AR teams – Do you always provide the press with analyst contacts regarding news and announcements?  How to you work with PR to ensure you know of all announcements well in advance?  Analysts – Do vendors keep you informed?  Have you been blindsided by an announcement?  How did you react?

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3 Responses

  1. Nice piece, though the interaction between analysts and journalists is not only about press quotes. I have expanded on this over here.

  2. Hi Dale, Nice post.

    An additional point is that non-elite reporters lean on analysts for background on topics the reporters are not familar with. An analyst can spend a long time on the phone doing basic education, all but writing the article, and not even get a quote in the piece.

  3. You are right there, but if you have a vocational approach to the industry analyst role, as our guys do, it is first and foremost about influence and making a difference. If the end result is a jouranlist not writing a misguided, unbalanced or ill-informed piece, then you have achieved something, even if you don’t get immediate recognition in the form of a quote,

    I have to admit that it is irritating when you spend time with a journalist and they ignore what you say and still write something crap. Then again, better if you are not actually quoted in articles like that anyway :-)

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