Industry Analysts: Analyst Relations

While doing some research on Quora recently, I noticed a question from someone wondering about a tech startup looking to hire someone to do “analyst relations.”  Since the firm was a long way from having to brief financial analysts — the only type of analysts the asker was familiar with – they were understandably confused.  I left this answer:

There are two kinds of analyst relations work — the analysts who follow the stock market and industry analysts who follow specific industries.  For the latter, look up Gartner, Forrester, and IDC as examples. In the tech marketplace, industry analysts produce reports which are used, often by large companies, to help set their technology agenda.

The industry analyst relations in a tech company is often handled by the PR team. (In larger companies, there may be a team that does nothing but analyst relations.  Or, it might be handled by a product marketing team or a competitive intelligence team.) These important influencers are often briefed, under non-disclosure, by the product team, before you launch a product.  It’s an important credibility driver and validation of your strategy.

As a PR person at a tech company, you should know if your industry has a Gartner Magic Quadrant and where your technology is on the Gartner Hype Cycle, and when there is a Forrester Wave coming for your technology.  And there are dozens of specialty analyst firms who have their own branded reports.

Industry analysts can help define and name markets, and predict the size of a future market. The reports they generate can often drive big trend stories in the media.

But there is another aspect of analyst relations that you need to know how to navigate.  Analysts are paid to produce these reports and this market sizing work.  Technology firms pay tens of thousands of dollars a year to get and give briefings to the analysts and get access to the reports.  They may purchase copies of reports to use for lead generation campaigns.

If your firm is a small startup, you might not have the budget to pay for this kind of relationship, which can make it tough to get briefings. It’s also difficult to properly prepare your spokesperson if you can’t access the analyst’s writings. Knowing how to manage this situation is a definite art form.