To the untrained eye, public relations (PR) and analyst & B2B influencer relations (AR) share similar traits. But they are very different business functions.
PR comes out at its best managing a crisis. During quieter times, it delivers repeat coverage. Building brand awareness –essential not only for recognition at the top of the funnel, but builds brand equity over time.
AR is at its best when enabling your business to lead a category. Utilising strategic market insights from industry analysts. Nurturing them into advocates can position your company as a segment leader. Ensuring product-market fit and manoeuvring around the competition.
Here are five key differences between analyst relations and media relations. Ignore them by clumping the two together as a single programme and you are likely to fail. Here’s why.
5. Targets: media vs. analysts
PR stands for public relations, though in a B2B world, the function is largely dominated by media relations and focused on engaging with journalists. This is where PR delivers the biggest bang for your buck: keeping your company top of mind among key press to impact the top of the sales funnel.
Analyst relations interacts primarily with industry analysts. That is Gartner, Forrester or IDC, specialist firms such as CCS Insights, KuppingerCole, HfS Research, Constellation or Signify, local players such as Teknowlogy, BARC or ITR, etc. And not to forget, a long list of independents, many of them which are extremely talented in their fields and delivering great insights and advice to vendors. Their business is to analyse technology markets and trends, produce research, and advise buyers. It’s a different audience who should be engaged with in a very specific way, as analysts are all about conversations. It’s a two-way street with impact throughout the sales funnel.
4. Content: newsworthiness vs. deep dive
Journalists are gatekeepers of the public. Thus, PR professionals focus on storytelling to help journalists inform their readers. They frame, spin and pitch your existing messaging to make it relevant and newsworthy. Loop in journalists alongside announcements, when you have something new to share. Journalists’ write-ups should be a balanced and neutral telling of your story that will impact your public brand perception.
AR’s content must provide analysts with a greater depth of information. They want to understand where you fit in their taxonomies. It’s two-way conversation, as in return for a deep-dive into your company, analysts offer valuable feedback to develop your business strategy, understand market trends and hear customer perspectives. They might be opinionated, but only based on research from an unbiased perspective. That is why they are a credible source for clients to validate your company.
Aragon Research stresses the importance of keeping analysts up-to-date as they are “constantly speaking with your current and potential customers, partners, and investors.” In addition, analyst opinion is a key part of the IIAR> AR compass. They are regularly quoted in journalist’s articles. This is how a good AR strategy can benefit your PR strategy.
3. Timeframe: 24-hour cycle vs. annual agenda
PR is a fast-paced profession. It must deliver topical, bite-sized, information to reporters with tight deadlines, especially with nowadays’ 24-hour news cycle. They want the highlights. A 30-second pitch. A whistle-stop tour. While some journalists have regular, weekly or monthly features, they still need to remain current and won’t plan content in advance. In this world, the urgent and emergent become important.
Conversely, AR is a long-game. Analyst research cycles are typically 3-6 months and agendas are set annually. They aren’t just interested in what’s new for your company, they want to know everything. To get the best insights from an analyst you must engage early and often, maintain constant contact and consistent messages. For instance, most briefings include information under NDA (non-disclosure) such as product roadmaps as far as 18 months ahead. Research can involve a pre-brief, full brief, review and follow-up for one single piece of research. Effective analyst relations is therefore a two-way partnership. In this world, the details of your business are most important.
2. Salience: volume vs. resilience
PR’s value comes from the volume of their visibility. PR Mention created a list of 10 metrics for public relations professionals, all are quantitative. Public relations professionals measure press clippings volume in relation to industry trends and competitors. It’s a hard graft, as news articles have a short shelf-life. Therefore, repeat coverage is an important PR goal to drive awareness.
Analysts are the original thought leaders. They have long-lasting influence on the entire ecosystem, not only by directly advising buyers. They define market terms and categories and their research remains salient over time. We call this resilience: Gartner’s Magic Quadrants are typically refreshed every 12 months, Forrester’s Waves have a shelf-life of up to 18 months. Throughout this time, they will be widely referred to by customers and competitors. AR is consequently a long-game, aiming to develop long-term relationships through preemptive tactics.
Dr. Joe Sweeney commented on the changing AR industry as he saw marketers moving into AR roles. “Unfortunately, less experienced marketing folks collapse visibility with influence. Not the same thing.”
1. Focus: awareness vs. relationships
PR’s focus is supported by its targets, content, timeframe and resilience. The PRCA positions PR as being about reputation and perception. Ultimately, a public relations team wants to create a consistent, positive public image of the company and share the highlights of its business via journalists. This repeat, positive coverage is a one-way road to brand awareness.
AR’s focus is also supported by its targets, content, timeframe and salience. The IIAR> positions AR as being about building relationships. Ultimately, an analyst relations team wants to create mutually beneficial relationships with analysts, providing them with information in return for input on strategy, roadmap and positioning. This two-way road creates insightful relationships.
THE DIFFERENCES BETWEEN PR AND AR ARE CLEAR.
Conclusion? Five attributes set PR and AR apart: targets, content, timeframe, salience and focus.
PR teams add value through the framing, spinning, pitching and amplification of existing messages. AR teams add value through insights-driven input on strategy, roadmaps and positioning.
Whilst PR and AR can, and should, work together, they cannot work as one.
There are synergies between these functions and they should work together. Not least as industry analysts are cited in most trade press articles –and tend to set the tone of those pieces. However, merge them into a single function and like fish and fowl, the combination won’t work: partnership will be overrun by deadlines, the urgent will become important and newsworthiness will prime over depth.
AR is not an extension of PR.
It may be tempting to accept a PR agency’s offer to add AR on top of your PR retainer; yet analyst relations requires a specific skill set and a different set of relationships. AR can’t be a PR agency’s side hustle as very few have a dedicated AR team.
- Make sure you set clear and distinct objectives for both AR and PR, balancing awareness, influence, insights and marketing imperatives.
- Resource the right capabilities mix for your outbound communications and influencer partnerships to deliver on those objectives.