The Benefits of “Earned” Analyst Relations

There is still a misconception that persists among many PR and marketing professionals today that analyst briefings are not worth doing unless their organization has a paid subscription with the analyst firms. We often find that analyst relations is one of the first things that marketers want to cross out of our PR proposals.

Our take – Vitare loquitur coniectoribus periculo tuo.

Or, for those former parochial school students like me still struggling with Latin: Avoid opportunities to speak with analysts at your own risk.

Even if your organization does not have a paid relationship with an analyst firm, we strongly believe it is worth your time to do an “earned” briefing – similar to the earned opportunities your PR team is proactively seeking from the media outside of the paid/advertorial opportunities that those outlets’ sales teams are pitching. As long as the privilege of an earned briefing is not abused, analysts are usually open to scheduling calls or even in-person briefings. But make sure you have something important to say, and that you are prepared for tough questions about your company’s direction, target markets, customers, and even its financials.

Analyst recommendations are among the most important influencers for those executives looking to make significant buying decisions about healthcare technology solutions. With all the noise in the marketplace – from walking around the HIMSS show floor last month, there are too many companies to count who lay claim as the answer to population health, or personalized medicine, or care coordination – it is critically important that your organization is included among vendor recommendations when your prospects check in with analysts.

Yes, you’ll probably have to take a sales call along with the briefing. But the intrinsic, long-lasting value of getting in front of key analysts who decides to make out the lineup for recommendations makes the briefing makes that 30 extra minutes listening to a sales spiel about their services and events well worth the effort. Plus, the media often turns to analysts for expert insights, and while they usually don’t reference specific vendors in their quotes, you do want them to be aware of your positioning so when they are quoted in the media your organization’s vision and positioning are helping to shape the thinking behind their comments.

Which are the key analyst firms you should consider targeting for “earned” briefings? In general, the most well-known firms are still Gartner, IDC, Forrester, Frost & Sullivan and Ovum. But it is just as important to hold briefings with other analyst firms who also have significant influence over buying decisions in the healthcare technology market, including (but not limited to) Chilmark, IHS and Alterum.

Your analyst relations strategy should incorporate regularly scheduled briefings with the relevant analysts at these firms. The first step is to reach out to the analyst firm to request a schedule of reports they plan to publish in the next year. Then, build out a briefing schedule, not only based on those reports, but also based on significant milestones you expect to hit with your corporate positioning and/or roadmap.

Keep in mind that analyst briefings do have a much longer lead time, so it is important to know the process through which briefings are coordinated. For instance, Gartner, IDC and Forrester have central bookers who schedule the briefings. Even if you have spoken by phone or in person with an analyst previously, you or your PR firm will still need to contact the booker or fill out a form on the analyst firm’s website to schedule the briefing. Give yourself 6-8 weeks lead time, so if you have a big launch coming up three months from now, you should be requesting a briefing now.

So you got the briefing booked. Now what? We’ll be covering the Do’s and Don’ts of preparing and holding a briefing in our next blog post, as well as the follow-up that is needed in a timely fashion to make the briefing a successful one.

Check back next week for our next post on prepping for and holding a briefing, as well as how to handle action items that need to be addressed coming out of a briefing. But in the meantime, share your insights in the comments below on:

  • Which analyst firms you find have the most impact?
  • What works well with analysts based on briefings you have participated in?
  • What are some of the common pitfalls of doing analyst briefings?
Tim Boivin
Managing Director - Amendola Communications
Tim Boivin is a seasoned PR strategist with experience across a dozen vertical markets including healthcare, technology and supply chain. Tim's diverse skill set includes leading accounts, managing teams and budgets, developing and implementing communications strategies, as well as hands-on, results-oriented public relations and social media programs. Tim’s career in media and public relations began in the U.S. Army, where he was an award-winning journalist and public affairs professional. Prior to joining Amendola, Tim spent 12 years at Tech Image, Chicago's leading independent high-tech public relations firm, where he managed agency operations and led an award-winning team.
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