2010 planning tips – assessments

Analyst Relations PlanningAs we get closer to 2010 more analyst relations (AR) teams are engaging in the annual planning exercise. One of the ways to enhance the power of planning is to systematically and honestly assess the program and its accomplishments. 

Below is a quick check list of assessment techniques. You can listen to a discussion of some of these techniques on the November 3rd SageCircle AR Community podcast which you can listen to by clicking here.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Conduct an audit of how AR has performed in the last year
  • Conduct an audit of what AR has accomplished in the last year
  • Ruthlessly evaluate how AR is allocating its time
  • Do a zero-based rethink of all spending, especially Forrester and Gartner expenditures
  • Poll AR’s internal stakeholders on perceptions about AR’s role and business value
  • Survey analysts on AR’s Continue reading

Value for Effort

Analyst Relations PlanningOne of the slides we consistently include in any of SageCircle’s training content, private or public, covers value for effort. Basically this is our discussion about implementing only those activities or best practices where the analyst relations program receives more value back than the effort put into it.

For example, SageCircle consistently encourages AR professionals to pay attention analyst usage of social media. However, we also consistently say that AR needs to limit the number of analysts that they monitor on social media so as not to use too much time. This recommendation then dovetails into a discussion of the need for a good analyst list ranking and tiering framework to make sure that the AR team is focusing on the most relevant analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • AR teams need to careful vet any new programs or best practices for relevance and practicality

Bottom Line: The most precious resource that AR has is its time. While there are many Continue reading

Stop playing Whac-a-mole by moving from firefighting and reactive to proactive and preemptive

Analyst Relations PlanningToo many analyst relations (AR) professionals spend too much of their time seemingly playing Whac-A-Mole. They rush from one emergency to another, respond to one request after another (from colleagues and analysts), and always seem to be in catch-up mode. The problem with this state is that AR gets in the rut of being tactical and does not have time to be strategic. Thus, the image of AR merely being meeting schedulers gets ingrained in the company. 

To get out of the firefighting/reactive rut, AR should focus on becoming proactive and eventually preemptive. Firefighting-Reactive-Proactive-Preemptive are what SageCircle calls styles of AR. A quick set of definitions are:

Firefighting: The firefighting style of AR is one where a vendor deals with the impact of analysts as opposed to dealing directly with the analysts. Typically, the vendor’s sales force is trying to do damage control because analysts’ research either ignores the vendor or gives the vendor a very negative description or rating. A vendor with a firefighting approach, because they do not interact with the analysts themselves, is doomed to be defined by the uninformed analyst. This allows the vendor to be characterized by the disgruntled customers, competitors, prospects, and partners who do interact with the analysts. Often a vendor in permanent firefighting style is there because it really does not have an AR program and maybe not even a real PR organization.

Reactive: The reactive style of AR is one where a vendor answers questions initiated by the IT analysts, but does not actively reach out to IT analysts. Because the IT analysts do not necessarily contact every vendor for every piece of research they publish, vendors are constantly fighting ratings and recommendations based on old information. In addition, AR is reacting to Continue reading

Is it time to incorporate risk analysis into analyst list rankings?

Analyst Relations PlanningEvery AR team needs to manage their analyst list(s) to ensure they are focused on providing the right attention to the right analysts.  SageCircle stands on the “analyst list management” soapbox a lot because it such an important aspect of an effective and efficient AR program.  Creating a ranked list based on impact and then tiering based on available resources is the way to manage your service levels for analysts and ultimately manage your stress. There are many data points that go into an analyst ranking frameworks like visibility, research coverage, reputation, firm, geography and so on. This post is the opener for a discussion on whether risk should be added to the ranking criteria.

In this context, the risk being discussed is the potential damage to sales deals, market perception, internal politics, and such that can be caused by an analyst with a negative opinion. How much effort should you put into negative analysts?

So, should risk be incorporated into the analyst ranking framework as either a primary or secondary criterion? For instance, two analysts that are pretty much equal in all other criteria could see a negative analyst getting ranked higher than a positive analyst because there is more risk associated with the negative analyst and AR wants to invest more time to move that analyst’s opinion. If the two analysts are on the border between Tier 1 and Tier 2 Continue reading

It’s in the AR plan – social media should not be considered “special,” but just a regular activity

icon-social-media-blue.jpgWe have written on a number of occasions that social media is not some big special deal, but rather just another tool in the analyst and analyst relations (AR) tool box. For that reason, there should not be some special plan for social plan with all sorts of meetings and review sessions set up. Rather social media should just be incorporated into daily activities and your AR Strategic and Tactical Plan.

You do have an AR plan, don’t you?

Your strategic AR plan, the one with the charter and objectives, lists of all interactions types to be used for each purpose, service levels by analyst tier, calendar and priorities? Ok, unfair question. Many AR teams are so under the gun that a well-done AR plan is often considered a luxury. The main point is that social media (e.g., blogs, Twitter, communities, LinkedIn and so on) should not be considered something big and special – which means they won’t be embraced until the “plan is ready” – but merely just additional forms of interactions to add to the mix.

Obviously, the various types of social media are still new to many individuals and AR teams. As a consequence, there is a learning curve to climb and a process you will need to go through to adopt these new forms of interactions. However, social media are not “special,” just like e-mail is not special. Oh, those folks that have been around for awhile will no doubt remember when there was heated debate whether e-mail was an appropriate form of interaction with analysts.

SageCircle Technique:

  • Educate yourself about social media, including setting up accounts and playing with various types
  • Review which of your analysts are currently using Continue reading

Ideas for your 2010 AR Plan

Analyst Relations PlanningIt’s that time of the year when many AR programs are working on their 2010 AR Strategic and Tactical Plan. This is a popular topic that we have touched on in a number of blog posts (see a small sampler below). This post looks at a few items you should consider thinking about that are not normally part of the typical AR plan.

Handling an expanding product line – If your company is planning on launching new products or major releases of existing products in 2010, how are you going to leverage your resources to cover these new responsibilities without depriving existing products of needed support?

Reaching out to new groups of analysts – There are going to be major changes in analyst landscape in 2010 so how are you going to reach out to new groups of analysts while maintaining high service levels to your most relevant analysts?

Measuring efficiency in working with internal stakeholders – While the analysts are AR’s primary focus, AR teams are often working with a number of internal groups such as product marketing and product management. The questions for 2010 planning are how are you going to measure your effectiveness in working with these groups and how are you going to improve your efficiency?

Participating in analyst-sponsored online communities – The IDC Insights Community and The BPO and Offshoring Best Practices Forum are just two examples of the trend toward analysts and firms creating and managing online communities that Continue reading

Developing Strong and Active Executive Sponsorships is a Planning Priority

Analyst Relations PlanningIf AR teams truly have the sponsorship of senior executives, why do they struggle for resources, organizational cooperation, executive participation in AR initiatives, and other critical issues? The reality is that AR teams probably have a tepid endorsement from their management rather than true executive sponsorship.

 SageCircle defines executive sponsorship as taking an active part in establishing AR goals and priorities, providing the resources necessary to achieving the agreed upon goals, explicitly communicating the importance of AR to the company, providing timely support when an internal organizational hurdle prevents the achievement of goals, and making themselves available as spokespeople with analysts. The key theme is active participation.

An important element of a sponsorship program is status reporting, because it helps to maintain the active participation of the executive. The purpose of status reporting is to:

  • Maintain AR’s top-of-mind presence with executives
  • Eliminate surprises about operational or strategic issues that could prevent the achievement of the agreed upon goals
  • Alert executives to issues requiring attention and support

Topics covered by status reporting cover both results and issues. Status reporting balances consistent touches without impinging on the executives’ time. Components of status reporting include:

  • Monthly one to two page e-mails
  • Quarterly 30-minute updates
  • Semi-annual 90-minute reviews

Working for active executive sponsorship should become a part of creating the AR strategic & tactical plan. Having an executive sponsorship program does require some effort on AR’s part and the scheduling of regular meetings, which need to be incorporated into the AR plan.  However, the payback of real executive endorsement is Continue reading