Barbara on April 20th, 2001

Industry analysts are not your typical audience. Take a quick tour of the body parts and vital signs of an effective analyst relations newsletter program.

DNA: Real Audience
Know your audience. An analyst newsletter is not a mass communications vehicle; it’s a newsletter for a finite, influential audience. Treat them like the staunch individualists they are.

Identify 3 to 5 real people who will receive the newsletter and use them as a decision model for designing it. Ideally, you can select audience members representing the typical, least and most receptive extremes of the analysts tracking your firm. As you design and execute the program, continually look at it from each of their perspectives to understand its impact and appeal. You can take this one step further and ask them to evaluate your newsletter.

Limit external readership to industry analysts. Query applicants on their jobs, needs and expectations at opt-in. Politely point other types of would-be subscribers to more appropriate communications vehicles. Only allow known, qualified industry analysts to view archived newsletters on your website.

More DNA: Actionable Objectives
Be clear about the reasons you’re publishing the newsletter. Articulate objectives in such a way that you can measure results. Because this is such a basic step, many firms overlook it altogether. Others neglect to revisit the premise for their program as their analyst relationships evolve.

Bones: Tailored News Content
This might be where content syndication got its start:”Let’s recap our press releases in a newsletter and send it to the industry analysts.” This is pre-McKenna, pre-Internet, pre-CRM, pre-personalization thinking. Press releases are not crafted for analysts. Why use them as a basis for a newsletter dedicated to analysts?

A more effective approach is to include one to two sentences positioning each news item along with links to detailed product information and press releases. Strip the fluff; focus on the “what”, “why” and “so what?” content. Understand that few analysts actually click-through to read a press release. Assume that what you send is what they read.

As warranted, create special issues dedicated to one news or strategy item. Include a series of links to related information on your website.

Muscle: Buzz Content
Ironically, few analyst relations newsletters include unique content - content to be found nowhere else. Yet, an email newsletter is the perfect medium for broadcasting internal and market buzz, and analysts are interested in buzz. Don’t even think about “filler” content. Include concrete indicators of market interest in your organization, its role as a mover in the market, its milestones and culture.

Need ideas? Think about customer wins and quotes, customer survey results, instant opinion polls on your site, products in development or beta, trends in your customer base, emerging hot topics among your customers, executive opinions on hot industry topics, results of tradeshow presence, speaker appearances, awards, media coverage, changes in sales or support strategy, upgrades to your own IT infrastructure, key new hires and partner news.

Do not include content that would damage your organization if viewed by a competitor or customer.

Instinct: Research Focus
Within the newsletter, organize news according to key topics based on analyst interests. If appropriate, offer a choice of newsletters, one for each research focus and one master edition rolling all content together. Include a bulleted list of “other” content at the bottom with links to find out more.

Motor Skills: Easy Interaction
Effective newsletters generate some level of response or interaction. Capture and evaluate it, including opt-in/out activity and inquiries resulting from the newsletter. No news is not good news. If no interaction is evident, follow-up a mailing with outreach calls asking select analysts if they are interested in a follow-up discussion on a specific topic in the newsletter.

Encourage feedback and suggestions. On the most basic level, make it easy to request or find detailed information by email, phone or web landing pages. For all email links, use auto-responders to acknowledge inquiries. Accurately state your average turn-around time on inquiries.

On a more advanced level, provide direct email links to content spokespeople such as product managers, engineers or executives. Find a way to set aside AR control issues, whether through analyst relations training for spokespeople or use of newer communication technologies, such as Internet Relay Chat over SSL connections.

Maintain a clean mailing list and monitor delivery failures. Subscribing analysts are demonstrating keen interest in your organization. Nurture and reward this interest. Incorporate the mailing list into overall analyst relations contact lists, databases and research purchase lists.

Conduct formal reader surveys once or twice a year, preferably at your opt-in renewal time. (You do require subcription renewals, don’t you?)

As always, include opt-in/out links.

Personality: Frequency and Tone
The frequency depends on your organization and objectives. Weekly, monthly or quarterly is the norm, depending on vendor activity and market volatility.

Give some thought to the tone, size and behavior of the newsletter. It must download quickly and correctly. If you use HTML, be sure it opens cleanly in plain text mode. Addressing should be personalized. The writing must be concise. While maintaining a fiercely economical word count, it should also reinforce your organization’s culture and the tone you want to achieve in your analyst relationships.

Into the Wild: Promotion
Include the opt-in URL or email address in the analyst relations staff email signatures. Include it on title or contacts slides in briefing prsentations. Also, send it to your account managers and watchers at the analyst firms. They are your allies.

For website promotion, include links to the newsletter description and opt-in on the pages of your site most likely to be visited by analysts. This typically includes top-level pages on the industry analyst, media, company information, products and services sections. If you are not sure where they land on your site, ask your webmaster to tailor reports identifying visitor traffic and patterns from the analyst firm domains.

Reprinted from Tekrati

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