If AR does not respond, maybe they don’t know who you are

“Remarkably hard to get hold of anyone at Oracle and Microsoft analyst relations.” is a tweet that caught our attention. The twit had a link to his firm’s blog, which then led us to the firm’s main website. The firm was unfamiliar to us (for this post it does not matter the name of the firm), but after digging around for a few minutes it did seem like an analyst firm, but one with a very specific focus. However, at first glance the firm’s specialty did not seem relevant to Oracle and Microsoft so that is maybe why AR did not respond. An unknown analyst requesting AR assistance might only get a single quick glance at their website or blog because most AR teams are so busy responding to known analyst requests and preparing for the next proactive outreach that they do not have the time to do the type of digging that we do. 

Tweet - remarkably hard to get hold of anybody - v 1

One of SageCircle’s common inquiries is “Have you heard of firm x? They just contacted us and we don’t know who they are. Should we respond?” With many hundreds of analyst firms in the ecosystem it is not surprising that AR is not familiar with every one of them. Of the more than 160 analyst firms represented in the Analyst Twitter Directory, there were quite a few that we had to investigate to determine whether they were truly analyst firms. If we had to investigate and ponder then there is little chance that an overworked AR professional would devote the same resources.

AR gets requests from all sorts of people, especially if they post a generic contact link on the website (e.g. AR@companyname.com or a web form). When we ran corporate AR for a major vendor, we would field requests from reporters, Wall Street analysts, college students, competitive intelligence firms working for competitors, consultants, think tank researchers, other vendors’ customer service staff, angry customers and the list goes on and on. We even kept a Word document with boilerplate email text for various types of responses so we could point people in the right direction for the assistance appropriate to what they requested.

Analysts at smaller or very specialized firms could do themselves a favor if the first time they contact a vendor’s AR team that they provide background on their firm, themselves, and the reason why the vendor might want to respond favorably to the request. When we have mentioned this approach to analysts who work at boutiques or single practitionerships, the response has often been a very huffy “What do you mean that AR might not know who we are? We’re important! We’re influential! AR is simply lazy or stupid!” More often than not, the more obscure the individual or firm, the more insulted they will act. Get over it. Even the most visible firm today was not always well known. When Carter first joined GartnerGroup (now Gartner, Inc.), it was not a household name and he would frequently get “Gartner who?” He then developed a standard one-page description of GartnerGroup, its role in the marketplace, and why vendors found it useful to cooperate with its analysts. After sending this description, Carter would almost always get the cooperation needed for the research project. After a couple of years, this approach was not necessary because Gartner had become well known in the vendor community, but for that period it was smart to explain who Gartner was and not get insulted.

AR also has to be careful not to dismiss as not relevant, someone who is ranked low on the analyst list or whose firm is unfamiliar to AR. For more on this topic please read Not responding to analysts can lead to major issues.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Analyst – Don’t assume that everybody will immediately know who your firm is and what they do
  • Analyst – Develop a standard background description about your firm and include it with your first contact with a vendor
  • AR – Don’t ignore requests from unfamiliar analysts. Do some homework to see who they really are (SageCircle clients can use inquiry to get background and recommendations on unfamiliar analysts or firms)
  • AR – Develop standard boilerplate to use with different types of people requesting assistance, pointing them where they can get help

Bottom Line: It is unrealistic for analysts at smaller or very specialized firms to expect that every vendor AR team will know who they are and their role in the marketplace. Rather than being insulted, analysts should use marketing techniques to educate AR teams about their relevance and the business value of cooperating with the analyst’s request.

Question: AR – What is your process when approached by someone you are not familiar with?

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2 Responses

  1. Hi Carter, I’m flattered that my Tweet has prompted this blog post. I’m the research director at Econsultancy, a publisher which specialises in digital marketing and e-commerce reports.

    As you say, we are probably not known to many AR departments. But we publish a CMS Buyer’s Guide and I wanted to give Microsoft and Oracle the change to participate. If ARs are too busy to reply to, or acknowledge, messages which aren’t from ‘tier one’ analysts then the least they can expect is a slightly disgruntled ‘tweet’.

    In this case, the aim was to try to get hold of someone .. and I’ve now succeeded thanks to Twitter. I can understand why multi-national IT companies want to prioritise the likes of Gartner, but they should have a broader contact strategy (as I’m sure you would advocate) which makes it easy rather than difficult to find the right person within a company to talk to.

    In short, the fact that this Tweet of mine came to your attention shows the paradigm is changing so analyst relations departments need to adjust accordingly.

    The likes of Gartner will continue to be influential but other analyts / publishers / bloggers / Tweeters are increasingly being heard and having influence.

  2. Hi Carter,

    I could not agree more and have posted on the subject, after I received a real briefing request which did not help me at all figuring out why I should have answered!

    [IIAR Blog] Analysts: When you’re looking for a briefing – help me to help you

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