Even before English economist William Stanley Jevons and other 19th Century luminaries formalized the idea of marginal utility, business people grappled with sustaining customer desires for their goods and services.
While Jevons had commodities in mind, I believe marginal utility is relevant to PR programs, too, especially in our digital world. Keeping stakeholders informed with fresh, compelling news, perspectives and content is a necessity to maintain their interest and attention.
One key group with which to build and cultivate such relationships is industry analysts. These influencers are different than traditional members of the media and bloggers, and an organization’s approach to them must be different, too.
Here are six recommendations for building a strong analyst relations program – one that will create third-party validation for a healthcare company’s services and technologies:
- Don’t treat analyst briefings and media interviews the same
- In a media interview, the reporter asks the questions, and the source answers them while bridging to her own messaging and agenda as the opportunities arise
- A successful analyst briefing, however, is a dialogue, where the client tries to gain as much insight from the analyst as the knowledge it imparts about its company, positioning, and go-to-market strategy
- Work with analysts and their schedulers weeks in advance of desired briefings
- Unlike reporters that expect sources to be available on a moment’s notice for their assignments, industry analysts often work on longer lead times
- Use such lead times to orchestrate the objectives of your analyst briefing, even scripting what an ideal briefing looks like
- Follow scheduling protocols; often, analysts require a company to work with scheduling colleagues, and not directly, to secure briefings
- Avoid lengthy PowerPoint presentations in the actual briefings
- Time is currency, and analyst briefings don’t happen with the same analyst firm frequently unless there is a paid relationship
- Provide a thorough background on your company from a strategic perspective and with the market clearly in mind, but leave the lengthy presentations as leave-behinds – or better yet, provide these materials ahead of the briefings (a requirement with some firms)
- Focus on how your offerings address current market needs and elicit analyst feedback; remember, industry analysts are experts in specific market segments, so leverage that expertise to the extent they’re willing to share their views
- Avoid making product announcements the sole messaging points in briefings
- While product launches and technology enhancements are important to keep key stakeholders informed, use analyst encounters to discuss corporate positioning, larger market issues and company strategies
- That’s not to say analysts should not be briefed on new products, but put those products in the context of the challenges the sector is facing and the problems the new products solve
- Product details can be incorporated into PowerPoints, or via links to company web sites or microsites, for further study and reference
- Gaining coverage in analyst reports should NOT be the only reason for engaging analysts
- For smaller HIT companies, securing feature coverage is often difficult
- However, a successful analyst relations program builds trust and credibility
- Over time, those benefits can accrue by having an analyst drop your company’s name with her own clients as a problem-solver worthy of industry consideration
- Securing an analyst as a media reference is another worthwhile pursuit, if the analyst is amenable
- Don’t overplay your hand
- Unless there is a paid relationship in place, analysts customarily accept one, or maybe, two briefings from companies they cover in their market spaces each year
- Instead of inundating analysts with news releases and briefing requests, build a steady cadence of meaningful connections – perhaps even summarizing events in a quarterly e-newsletter
- Use industry conferences, such as HIMSS, to connect with analysts in-person
Keeping these recommendations in mind, plus the thoughts of my colleague Matt Schlossberg, can produce rich analyst relationships and help companies advance their PR and marketing goals – even when they don’t have the means for paid relationships.