Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Guest Post: Communicating with analysts via social media – worth it, or not?

Courtesy of Eria Odhuba, a founder member of The Comms Crowd and our resident analyst relations guru we look at engaging with the industry analysts via social media channels:


join the conversation
In the ‘good old days’ of analyst relations, things were easy. If you wanted to know what analysts thought about technology, markets or vendors, all you had to do was read their reports or, occasionally, get it direct when they spoke at events.With so many channels for information exchange now, AR teams have their work cut out tracking analyst opinions. This is even more difficult (though I should really say exciting) when you consider all the ‘disruptive’ analyst firms that have sprung up over the past five years.

Many analysts don’t just rely on reports, inquiries and speaking engagements to engage with their audiences. They use social media and, more importantly, use it so naturally that there are significant opportunities to interact with them in meaningful ways. Analysts that use social media successfully don’t see it as a separate project / strategy to what they do. It is simply part of a multi-faceted approach to engagement which fits in naturally with everything else they do, including paid engagements / products.

So the big question for many vendors isn’t, “Should we spend valuable time and resources tracking relevant analysts on social media, and engage with them / their community?”

But, “How do we continue to engage with our important analysts using all the channels available so there is a seamless relationship experience?”

  • First of all, we all need to understand that we have moved on to a time where social media is seen as part of normal day-to-day activity. It is, for many people, now simply a channel to engage with followers and/or communities where information sharing, recommendations and online reviews are fundamental parts of decision-making processes. If you still need to have a meeting to decide whether to have a social media strategy, you’ve missed the boat! So, in answering the key question, you have got to make sure you have the right reasons for doing so and realise that it can’t simply be a case of following analysts on twitter. A well-executed and comprehensive AR program will include many traditional elements (i.e. briefings, inquiries, speaking engagements, white papers etc.) but will also have adequate resources to track analyst conversations on social media. More importantly, there will be a willingness to engage with analysts via social channels by sharing useful information or providing comments that add value to conversations taking place (without the hard sell). 
  • Secondly, it means getting a better understanding of how end users or key decision makers use social media to help them engage with analysts and make purchase decisions. This is hard, really hard! Though the actual decision to select a particular IT vendor may never be known, engagement within relevant communities can sometimes give an indication of the views that end users have regarding particular technologies (though you have to look beyond the beliefs of die hard fans for specific ones such as the Apple fanzine), and analysts’ reactions to these views is important to understand what they think needs to be addressed.
  • Thirdly, you have to accept that social media engagement with analysts will not necessarily result in their endorsement of your products / solutions. More often than not, you open yourself up for scrutiny and possible criticism which means being prepared to address community concerns in ‘real time’ just to maintain any credibility. Think crisis management on speed!
  • Finally, the social media experience should give companies more information on the analyst they engage with, and form part of the wider intelligence they gather about analysts, including their views on the market and trends they see in the market.
We shouldn't really be talking about social media for AR any more. We should think of it as seamless, multi-channel AR where we curate information from multiple sources to build better pictures of analysts and develop mutually
-beneficial relationships with them.

If you found this post interesting you may also like:

How to ensure AR programmes deliver to the bottom line

Monday, 6 July 2015

A Saturday job - the perfect way to kick off your PR career

Want to work in PR? Better start working then...
Never under estimate the value of the work ethic
when it comes to plotting your fabulous career in comms

Latest UK government research, showed that the number of students with Saturday jobs/part-time work is somewhere around half of what it was just ten years ago. In 1997, 42% of 16-17 year old students were working, in 2014 it’s down to 18%. 

This is why: “When asked about the main reason for not combining work and study, the results of the survey indicated that personal preferences and the desire to focus on study was the dominant reason (55%), while the previous concerns relating to local labour market issues and the lack of flexibility from educational providers appear less influential (16% and 9% respectively). Thus, although there was a general prevalence of potential work opportunities available to young people, the overwhelming desire to do well in their studies was the main reason for not combining earning and learning.”

This was also my experience as the ‘resident’ visiting lecturer at Westminster University for its BA in PR and Advertising, where very few of the first year students were combining part time work with their studies.

To my mind if this is down to personal preference, then this is a mistake. If you want to work in the industry, you need to get an internship or two; if you want to get an internship or two you need to prove you already have a work ethic, and know what it means to work pretty hard doing rather dull stuff for not very much money at all. Those students that can already demonstrate this, by doing whatever it is: stacking shelves, cleaning cars, wondering out loud if you’d like fries with that – have already proved they can get up to an alarm, park the ego, roll up the sleeves and get the job done – which at this stage in a young person’s career is way more important than being able to wax lyrical on the theory of… well anything at all really.

I believe, those that are choosing the linear approach, to study first and intern after are missing a trick, while those that still believe they can walk straight out of uni into a permanent PR role will be able to reflect on that notion at their protracted leisure.

On the other hand, those students that are pushing themselves already, taking on Saturday jobs or part time work and applying for internships, even in their first year of study are giving themselves every advantage. Not only are they becoming more employable by the day, but their PR studies are going to make a whole lot more sense, once they have seen theory applied in practice.

So for me, working with the first year Westminster students was a fantastic opportunity to provide them with the basic skills they need to understand what a PR internship entails. By working on key requirements, from monitoring media, to building press lists; undertaking research to basic writing skills, we focused on how best to prepare and execute an internship role with professionalism and maturity.

Can’t tell you how proud I was to hear back from some of the students already, who not only have got out there and secured PR internships but have been asked to stay on for the summer in a paid capacity.

PR is a great career choice for those that are prepared to work for it – and a Saturday job could be just the place to start.



Monday, 18 May 2015

When it comes to AR - does size matter?

Guest post: Eria Odhuba analyst relations lead for The CommsCrowd .asks, when it comes to conducting an industry analyst relations programme, does company size matter?

 Analyst relations: do you have to be big to be clever?
I’ve had the privilege of working with every type of technology company - from mighty household names, to hungry start-ups. While many may differ, the goal is still the same for their AR programmes – they want to make sure they are on the radars of relevant analysts that cover their technologies and, hopefully, fall into conversations analysts have with their clients.

In a previous post, I covered building meaningful relationships with analysts even if you don’t pay them. The key perception that vendors need to overcome is that they must have large budgets to be on the analyst radar. Well – that is just not true. Here is why:

For super large vendors – AR programmes are normally multi-faceted (especially if there are different business groups that need to build a story that shows they are fully integrated with each other, and where the vendor needs to show growth in multiple markets). More often than not, there are opportunities for numerous engagements with analysts as there is a lot to update them on. Occasionally, analysts are writing reports looking at key vendors and they need to keep in touch to make sure they represent the vendor properly. Basically, there are more opportunities to build comprehensive AR programmes that have an impact on the bottom line.

At the other end of the scale are the start-ups.... yikes, where do you start? Actually, you start by first finding out what you’re passionate about and what problems you are looking to solve. You may not have the budgets larger vendors have, but you’re doing something interesting (hopefully) and touching people they probably don’t want to or can’t, and making your clients’ lives better. Crucially, you can be mavericks as you don’t have to defend vested interests or fight internal political battles that sometimes happen at larger vendors.

Working it
Whether you have large or small resources certain basic principles apply for an AR programme to succeed. These include:

· Doing some homework on your messaging to make sure you are absolutely clear on what problems you are actually solving and what solutions you have to help clients. You really need to make sure there actually is a problem you are solving;

· Identifying who actually needs your solutions and ideally, or if you’re lucky, finding out more about their decision-making process to see how they use analyst research to select technology solutions;

· Finding out which analysts are covering the technology solutions you provide, and tracking their research plans and speaking engagements;

· Using multiple communication channels, including social media, to amplify your message and get people to follow what you say as you drive or contribute to relevant discussions. If you’re a start-up - be provocative. You have no time for timidity;

· Taking the plunge and speaking to the analysts you’ve identified;

· If you’re lucky enough to have analysts interested in speaking to you, take on board their feedback and make sure they see you addressing any concerns they have raised.

So, those are the basics. You really can’t do much more if you’re a smaller vendor simply looking to start engaging with analysts. That is a good start! You just need to be realistic about the frequency of interactions you have and depth of programmes possible. If you are a start up with 15-50 employees, you will not have the frequency and depth of engagements a mega vendor has, but you can still make waves. And analysts will speak to you if you’re willing to accept that they will not promise quarterly updates or publish a report four weeks after meeting you.

As you get bigger and perhaps have larger budgets, your challenges as an organisation will change. There are more opportunities for competitors to hit back at you and you have to show you can continue to grow and defend yourself from all the FUD competitors will throw at your clients or prospects.

Now you can start thinking about more commercial relationships with the analysts – white papers, subscriptions, speaking gigs or event support. And be sure any feedback is integrated into your internal market intelligence, and that sales / marketing teams benefit from the enhanced relationships.


If you’re careful, you will have made sure you’ve used the interactions with analysts to identify who actually impacts your target market and can actually help you (without compromising their independence). While respecting the analysts and how they work, you can make better decisions about which paid engagements to plan for and how these help your wider marketing and sales teams to do their jobs more effectively.