As is often the case with blog posts, I scan the AR profession and SageCircle’s client work to determine “What’s hot” – i.e. the common theme running though our engagements and inquiries. This time the issue is the AR Strategic & Tactical Plan. We encounter planning issues when starting an AR Diagnostic; it often comes up in an inquiry or when planning training by saying “Let me see your AR plan”; and clients reviewing our research will exclaim, “This should be incorporated into my AR plan.” It is significant that we are seeing Strategic & Tactical planning take precedence in practitioners’ minds.
This emphasis is not surprising since AR is an activity-intensive function with scheduled and unscheduled events spread throughout the year. The slowing economies in many countries heighten this emphasis by placing pressure on AR programs to prove their value. As AR programs take up this challenge and pursue strategic goals such as “Arming Sales to Close Business”, their need for tighter planning increases. Unfortunately, in performing AR Diagnostics with clients or prospects, we often find that clients answer “No” to the majority of questions in the AR Planning section while answering “Some” or “Yes” on other sections such as “Responding Rapidly to Critical Analyst Opinion.” This is putting the cart before the horse. For example, we know that AR programs will find it more difficult to develop an effective measurement program to prove their value and build a case for executive investment if they don’t have a solid plan that helps them identify what data needs to be collected in the first place.
Another trend that is putting pressure on AR teams to have a good AR Strategic & Tactical plan is the rise of social media like blogging, Twitter, social networks and so on. Social media should be an additive set of communications tools that needs to be incorporated into an overall mix of interactions, not something “special” or separate. If social media is not part of the AR plan, then it can become “random acts of analyst communication” that might drain resources from more appropriate activities or forms of communication. On the other hand, social media that is part of an AR plan can be a powerful communication strategy that make the AR team more efficient and effective.
When starting the AR planning process, here are some questions that AR teams need to answer:
- What are your AR program goals, and how do they fit into overall corporate goals?
- What results do you plan to deliver, and how will they be measured?
- What analysts are you targeting, and why?
- What programs will you execute? How do they integrate with your calendar of activities?
- What are the types of interactions you plan on including in your toolbox?
- What resources (including headcount) do you need to accomplish AR’s goals?
Bottom Line: IT and telecommunications industry analyst relations (AR) should be a professional discipline with measurable business value and repeatable results. Consequently, AR programs require robust planning. Having a solid AR plan will give AR teams the framework for more effective, efficient and consistent execution.
Question: Do you have an AR plan? If the answer is “No,” why is that?