Technology is an interesting industry with so many different facets and a constantly changing landscape. I’ve seen over the past 30+ years that if you don’t like something in the tech world, just wait 6 months and something new will pop up. These days, I think it is more like 2-3 months but you get the idea.
As an industry analyst for much of my career, I’ve been fortunate to work with and learn from a lot of very bright people – both at the companies I’ve worked at including Current Analysis, Yankee Group and most recently Analysys Mason, and companies I’ve worked with including AT&T, BT, Ciena, Cisco, Deutsch Telecom, Ericsson, Huawei, Orange, Nokia (and that includes NSN, Lucent and ALU), Samsung, Sprint, T-Mobile, Telefonica…the list goes on.
My point is this – as an industry analyst I’ve been able to work with numerous companies across many different technologies in many different markets so that I’ve had my eyes opened to new perspectives, new market challenges, and differing requirements.
Briefings are often targeted to both press and analysts and I’ve had very successful briefings where I have learned a lot, and been able to provide some valuable feedback and insights. I’ve also had forgettable briefings where I was watching the seconds hoping it would all end soon and wondering how such a waste of time and effort got approved by the vendor briefing me.
Across that experience five common pitfalls have remained fairly consistent:
Not understanding what the analyst will do with your briefing. Are you briefing them for input into a report or article they are writing? Is this a feedback exercise for you? Are you hoping to expand the analyst’s knowledge of the space you are in? Why will the analyst want to talk to you is a really good question to ask yourself.
Not looking at your analyst-time as an expense. This goes with not working to maximize your spend. Whether it is executive time, prep time or the expense of analyst subscriptions or reports – plan what you want to get out of your time and effort. Which leads to the next point:
Not challenging your own assumptions. Analysts have a broader view than any vendor, or at least an outside view. Not using your analyst time to challenge and either validate or invalidate your key assumptions is one of the most common mistakes companies make. Analysts are not here to rubber stamp your ivory tower view of the world.
Not asking for the analyst’s opinion. Again, related to my second point, but taking a breath to ask what the analyst thinks on a key point of your briefing is refreshing and could provide some much needed input. A secondary benefit is that it ensures the analyst is paying attention and not multi-tasking with email, or twitter or whatever. And if you want a press reference, you better know what they are going to say.
Not preparing the analyst for the briefing. After you have put hours/days into the PowerPoint deck to be presented, rehearsed the script, done the fine tuning, validated your messages with key stakeholders internally – you expect the analyst to provide deeply insightful feedback and comprehension on the fly as you go through your presentation? Nope. Send the deck a few days before with the key points you expect to make and perhaps even a few questions you hope the analyst can answer for you. Help them help you to have a successful briefing.
This is where I think the joining of an experienced industry analyst and public relations team makes sense. Industry analysts look at the technology, products, messaging and positioning of the companies and markets they cover with a critical eye. PR takes an unabashedly promotional view of the same, but bringing the two together makes for a stronger message that is well supported and hopefully better received and understood by the press, analysts and potential customers.
This blog post has been focused on the AR side of business, but it applies to the PR side as well. If you take ‘analyst’ in the above points and substitute ‘press’ or ‘editor’ well, it does not exactly translate but again, I think you can see where I’m going with this.
Industry analysts and public relations have traditionally been in something of a ‘client-server’ relationship, with the analysts one of the key targets of the PR efforts. Joining Engage PR helps me bring a better understanding of the business and content needs of the analysts we work with on behalf of our clients.