Barbara on May 5th, 2003

A few industry analysts are experimenting with weblogs, or “blogging”, as an additional, more informal or more immediate vehicle for expression. For analyst relations managers, the greatest value of these first-generation analyst blogs is not in delivering influence or mentions for their employer. The value is in providing candid insights into analysts as normal, socially connected human beings.

AR Benefits Embedded in Weblogs

Thoughtfully reading analyst blogs can help you maintain a healthy attitude about initiating and building analyst relationships. After all, it’s easy to think of analysts only as gatekeepers of your firm’s reputation. Blogs can pull you out of this unhealthy state of mind.

Blogs reveal analysts as well-rounded individuals. You get a quick sense of their personal perspectives: who they think is or is not influential, what they read, what seems surreal and, how high tech touches their own human experience. Blogs tend to reveal all of this, and more.

Often, analyst weblogs reveal a reaction or opinion in its earliest stage of development. This is the kind of personal expression you don’t see in traditional industry research publications. For example, you can see what brought an incident or idea to their attention and their immediate reaction to it. Some analysts include references to other people inside the industry who share similar or condratictory reactions. Others point back to earlier research.

More AR Envy

It’s appropriate to note that analyst weblogs to date show no downsides for analyst relations managers. This is yet another cause for envy by public relations counterparts.

Blogs are complicating life for many public relations professionals. Some columnists and journalists are blogging in parallel to their traditional editorial presence. This mucks up PR effectiveness and ROI measurements, such as press clips weighted by publication. Do you rate the journalist’s importance in the same way, whether the clip is from a personal blog or the leading publication? Do you ignore the blog? How do you know who’s reading the blog?

Analyst relations program measurements are more focused on relationship factors, and therefore less subject to such dilemmas. In addition, blogging fits well in the complex landscape of industry research deliverables.

Analyst Weblogs and AR Best Practices

All AR program benefits — information exchange, trust, advice, fair analysis, media mentions, sales leads, short-listing — depend on healthy analyst/vendor relationships. Healthy relationships, in turn, depend on a good understanding of the analysts. It’s a good idea to embrace weblogs into AR best practices. Off the cuff, consider adopting five steps:

  1. Track down the blogs your analysts are writing. Don’t be afraid to simply ask if web searches do not produce results.
  2. Browse the analyst blogs periodically to get a better sense of their personalities, interests and rationale. This is most useful if practiced regularly, rather than when you are preparing a briefing book.
  3. Include weblog URLs in analyst profiles for your spokespeople and executives. In particular, ensure that executive relations and buddy program participants browse their analyst’s weblog.
  4. Keep an eye out for weblogs of employees within your company. You don’t necessarily want to find out about them from an analyst during a visit. Point the analyst to worthwhile weblogs of your official spokespeople, evangelists and executives.
  5. Keep a healthy perspective on your role as a relationship facilitator and primary support contact. What you bring to the relationship will have a bearing on the analyst’s attitude toward working with the vendor you represent. Remember that industry analysts are more than industry watchers, consultants or statisticians: they’re human beings.

If analyst blogs are new to you, take a few minutes now to browse some of the blogs at these links:
Burton Group
Jupiter Research
Amy Wohl

Reprinted from Tekrati

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