Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Do analysts charge for press release quotes?

Tom Foremski of SiliconValleyWatcher said in a recent post that:

"Gartner and IDC and Forrester analysts usually provide such quotes and they are always paid by the company issuing the press release(!)"

I was mildly surprised. On occasion, I've asked analysts to provide quotes for press releases. None of them has ever charged me. Neither have they even suggested payment would be appropriate.

(It didn't seem to matter whether or not my client had a commercial agreement in place with the analyst firm. Some did, some didn't).

So I put it down to being a US practice.

Then I thought about it some more. And actually, I'd love to know whether it really is just a North American thing? Perhaps I've simply been lucky all these years.

You see, I think that it's completely inappropriate for an analyst firm to ask for payment to provide a quote. I also think it's out of order for analyst companies to only provide quotes to their clients.

Either way, the analyst firm is at risk of being seen as endorsing a company in return for money. They're potentially allowing vendors to believe they can buy influence.

Now, I appreciate the big analyst firms must be inundated with requests and it would be impractical, perhaps even impossible, to meet the demand. So where to draw the line?

To me, the answer's simple. Either don't provide quotes at all or provide them purely on merit. Straightforward and it eliminates all the possible “analyst for hire” accusations.


John said...

I've never had to pay for an analyst quote in the U.S., but it often helped to be a client of the firm. So in a sense you are paying.

Also a number of the firms now will only allow you to cite from published research. Again, you're supposed to be a client.

Louis Columbus said...

AMR had what I thought was a fair policy. Vendors could quote only from published research in their press releases, websites, and white papers, and there was no charge for that. We did not do custom quotes for vendors however. This policy of quoting from published research and staying away from custom quotes saved AMR's support staffs hundreds of hours in conflict resolution with the inevitable battling vendors, one jealous of the other's custom quote!
Even companies who aren't AMR clients use quotes out of the company's research as many Alerts and reports are floating around for the public to read. While those non-clients got a tap on the shoulder asking "why not go all the way and become a client?" as far as I know we were never hard-nosed about shutting someone down on just hijacking a simple quote from published research.
Graphical representation of models do get hijacked onto non-client sites, like AMR's DDSN model for example, and that is a different story.
We did quotes for journalists and freelance writers who need one or two analyst quotes in their stories to make their living, yet the content was more about market dynamics than saying one vendor was better than another.
Paying for quotes is wrong, honestly. AMR's stance of quoting from research is unbiased and the attribution standards are clear and published on their site.

bitblue said...
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bitblue said...

I have never heard of any (respected) analyst that asked for payment for a quote. By quote I mean a statement or soundbite that appears in a press release or similar publication. And this does not depend on whether the company is a client or not.

Of course, there are always quoting policies, what can and cannot be included in the text (eg. company name, product name) but I think that's fair.

What analyst firms will charge for, however, are reprints, or extensive segments from research documents. Makes sense to me.

Vinnie Mirchandani said...

look at it this way. Would an analyst agree to be quoted for a company he/she did not know? How does he get to know them? If they are not clients chances are slim they would agree to a quote. So, while they would not specifically charge for a press release, they would not do one either for a vendor which was not a client for some other revenue

Dennis Howlett said...

I'm with Louis on this but I have to say that if you are a hack who has an 'in' with AMR you can get a lot of attention.

The pay and play argument though won't go away. It's well understood that appearance in some Gartner Magic Quadrant is considered a tick in the box in the lead gen stakes And for that - you pay.

The more important poitnt though is that for press quote purposes, analysts were very loathe to make specific endorsements. Although if you know them well enough, it's usually possible to twist their arm.

David Rossiter said...

To everyone who has left a comment and contributed to the debate, thank you.

David Rossiter said...

Vinne - I agree, partly! An analyst wouldn't (or shouldn't)agree to be quoted for a company that they didn't know. But do you have to be a client for the analyst to meet you and get to know you? That's not what I've found in Europe...

bitblue said...

David, what if the quoting policy doesn't allow mentioning the vendor or a product anyway, so no endorsement would even theoretically be possible? Some unknown startup wants an analyst quote like "the market demands XYZ, we see a trend in such-and-such" and providing that would be bad? Analyst companies typically demand seeing the quote "in context" and before publication to make sure there are no surprises. But not knowing the company in detail, does it matter?

Granted, the above scenario rarely occurs, as the relationship between vendors and analysts comes from knowing each other, so this discussion really describes largely a non-issue.

james governor said...

i know you saw my post on the subject david but you might also want to check out what stephen has to say:


David Rossiter said...

bitblue, you raise an interesting point. What is endorsement? Is simply being a willing associate enough? It probably depends on the reader. But I agree that the situation you propose is unlikely ever to come about. Interesting nonetheless. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

To address the original allegation: it is completely, utterly, and totally incorrect. A complete fabrication. I've no idea where the author got his so-called information, but its just plain wrong. Kind of weird to be having this long discussion thread without pointing out that the root of it is completely untrue!

David Rossiter said...

Anonymous, I would agree with you - in my experience, what Tom says simply isn't the my experience.

Your comment would have added credibility if you were willing to put your name to it so we could see on what basis you were making your denial...

The T4 Program said...

I think the big problem is that people start to "expect" more and more things for free.

Let's say an analyst firm is asked to give a quote about marketshare/leadership in the blood glucose market space...for the quote to have any real value, it would have to have some sort of quantitative/qualitative information...which is the main value market of a research study (the hard numbers and figures)...you can take the hard numbers out of any study and it's practically worthless...my point is, what many people ask for is the same figures the analyust firm is trying to sell.

If you give those facts away for free, the analyst will be out of a job.

Unless you are asking for a generic quote that won't really make or break your press release, you should expect to compensate the analyst in some way. The other option is to go to an unknown analyst who will give a free quote cause they need to brand their name...but again, how much is that really worth????