Dealing with industry analysts in the same way as journalists is a mistake commonly made by IT companies. They fail to recognise that the analysts are a separate specialist group of influencers.
It may not seem important nor be immediately apparent why it really is vital to treat these key audiences in different ways when communications plans are devised.
Actually, it’s crucial. Treating an analyst like a journalist will prevent you from realising the influence they have in the industry. (In the same way, treating a journalist as an analyst won’t get you the media coverage you’re after).
There are distinct differences between analysts and journalists. They play different roles in the industry. They require different types of information. They work in different ways. They operate to different timescales. They influence different people – in different ways.
Journalists are interested in getting coverage. That is their raison d’etre. Good stories – and especially scoops - lead to a healthy career. Poor stories – or worse, no stories – mean the journalist loses their job. However, while media coverage is important to many IT companies can it really compare to the influence that analysts can bring to bear?
Analysts are interested in gaining market insight. It puts them in a better position to advise their clients on how to gain strategic advantage. And that’s critical.
The analysts are the industry’s gurus, guiding technology purchasing decisions by providing independent and expert advice on which IT solutions and providers to choose. When customers and prospects review technology purchase decisions, they consult the industry analysts.
The analysts are listened to by every serious print and broadcast journalist, as well as attracting some of the biggest audiences at major industry conferences.
The analyst advise all of the major technology vendors, working with them to define product, marketing and sales strategies and messages.
That’s not to mention the influence they wield with the financial community and venture capitalists.
However in order to do their jobs properly, it’s important they have access to the right kind of information at the right time from the right spokesperson.
For example, briefing the analysts at the same time as the press makes it hard for the analyst. They don’t have the chance to think through what’s been said before their clients and the press are on the phones asking “what does this mean?”
Giving the analysts a superficial story angled for the press means they won’t have the depth of information they need to make an informed and educated judgement on what’s been said.
There is an art to communicating effectively with the analysts and building positive, long-term relationships with them. It is worth learning.