Earned media bylines and interviews get the most attention in healthcare public relations programs, but in many ways analyst briefings are even more critical to companies navigating a noisy and fiercely competitive marketplace.
Admittedly, analyst reports don’t have the curb appeal of a slick vendor profile in a top-drawer health IT publication. But they make up for it in other ways.
Many of your potential customers use the reports generated by KLAS Research, Gartner, AITE Group, The Advisory Board and others to evaluate vendors and solutions; better understand emerging healthcare categories, such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, and how they are defined; and leverage the valuable primary and secondary research to make technology investment decisions.
Analyst reports are also beneficial to vendors. They can be invaluable for testing market positioning, providing clarity on where a given solution type is on the hype cycle, and how close competitors are responding to the ebb and flow of market trends.
If your PR executives are good, they are already researching all of the healthcare-specific analyst firms—and many of the cross-industry outfits—and scheduling briefings. If they are smart, they are helping you prepare to make the most of this opportunity.
This post will assume that your PR firm has secured an analyst briefing and is helping you with strategy and tactics to maximize your opportunity. (If my assumption is wrong, let me know).
A good PR firm is going to provide solid guidance on analyst firms to pursue. The 500-pound gorillas like IDC and Gartner seem like no-brainers, but smaller firms that specialize in specific areas of healthcare can be just as valuable. (Long-time Amendola client Health Catalyst has a terrific breakdown of most of the major healthcare and cross-industry firms.)
Once a briefing has been secured, it’s time to prepare—even if the briefing is several week or months out. Preparation for analyst briefings can be resource- and time-intensive.
A media interview may run 15 to 20 minutes and be handled in-person or on the phone. Analyst briefings can last an hour—if not more—and often involve prepared slide decks, input from multiple executives, a demonstration of the solution or platform, the willingness to provide detailed answers to questions about your company’s history, competitors and financials.
Your PR executive should have a detailed understanding of what the analyst wants from this briefing, then help you edit and shape the presentation to align with those needs.
Phase 2—Who’s Invited
Many analyst briefings veer off in the wrong direction because the company hasn’t invited enough people—or simply too many.
We recommend that unless directed by the analyst, no more than three company representatives join the call. Those people should include the CEO, who can provide company positioning and higher-level commentary; the Chief Product/Solutions Executive, who can provide detailed information regarding the solution or platform; and the Marketing Executive, who can ably describe market positioning, customer outreach and information regarding competitors.
Of course, other company representatives are free to join, but they should quickly introduce themselves, then place themselves on mute for the duration of the call. The goal of this briefing is to provide the analyst will a smooth, clear, coherent narrative about your company. That can’t happen with people talking over each other, drawing the conversation down a half-dozen blind alleys, and random background noise intrusions.
Phase 3—The Slide Deck & Demo
Sometimes, companies are tempted to throw the kitchen sink at the analyst, covering every conceivable base from every conceivable angle. The intention is good, but attempting to cover everything since the Big Bang drowns the potential for telling a compelling story.
We encourage our clients to keep slide decks and demos short. Not more than 10-15 slides and a demo lasting no more than 10 minutes. You want to explore the details, not get bogged down in them.
As such, your slide deck should address your company’s most important competitive differentiators; provide a brief history of your company and a brief overview of its most relevant products; and offer compelling, results-oriented client success stories.
Ancillary information that may provide helpful context can be delivered to the analyst pre- or post-briefing, for them to peruse on their own time.
Phase 4—The Presentation
About a week before the briefing, we recommend a dry run. For this exercise, your PR executive and an internal communications manager should stand in for the analyst. Run through the briefing. Here are some useful metrics to judge by:
- How long did the briefing take? Ideally, you should have left a generous space—at least 15 percent to 20 percent of the allotted time—for questions and conversation.
- Did the subject-matter experts talk over each other or contradict each other? Were their responses thoughtful without also being epic monologues? Were their answers transparent and sincere, or riddled with meaningless jargon?
- How was the flow of the presentation? Did anything feel missing, superfluous or out of place?
- Did the presentation hit on all the agreed upon value propositions?
- Did you finish with case studies and proof points?
Phase 5—Stick the Landing
After your main presentation is done, the analyst will likely have final questions. This is a key intelligence-gathering opportunity for companies. Unlike media interviews, where the questions go in only one direction, analyst briefings allow for more back and forth.
This is a good time to test your assumptions and theories about your positioning in the market or mine valuable insights from an analyst well-versed in your area of healthcare.
Also be sure to leave your analyst with some takeaways—case studies, white papers and blog posts—that will provide additional context to the presentation.
Analyst briefings require a lot of preparation, but done correctly, they can be invaluable sources of information about your market and a rich source of customer prospects.