Vendor-side influencer relations programs tend to focus on public relations, analyst relations and blogger relations. I’ve talked before (e.g. here and here) about the value of broadening these programs to include other types of influencers, such as the research leads at professional associations. Announcements today from CEA and ESA underscore why this makes so much sense.
The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) today debuts CEMarketMetrics.org, a enhanced version of its well known Market Activity Reports and Analysis (MARA) service. The service, available only to CEA members, tracks shipments of more than 50 CE products from the factory to U.S. consumer sales channels through weekly and monthly reports. Data is supplied directly to the CEA from the manufacturers. Members used it to measure market trends and compare their sales against industry performance.
Meanwhile, the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) today releases results of its 2009 holiday shopping poll. Conducted by KRC Research, the market research covers consumer holiday spending plans relative to computer and video games. This is a timely poll from a proven source, presenting juicy data points to media and bloggers.
So what’s the take away? Why makes these kinds of associations so attractive as additions to influencer relations programs? Here’s how I look at it:
- Industry associations such as CEA and ESA are continuing to improve the extensive market research delivered to their members, and members can become involved in scoping and participating in these studies with their peers. Read between the lines: that means helping shape the focus and timing and therefore downstream findings of landmark studies.
- These groups are continually making better use of online and traditional media to promote their story lines, guest speakers and member sponsors.
- Lobbying and government relations outreach extends the groups’ influence across industry participants and across government and regulatory leadership. This can add additional touch points to most public affairs programs.
- Association-produced events extend influence to buyers, media and other interested publics.
- Most associations are already experimenting with social media and collaboration tools for stickier peer to peer networking.
- There is no question about the bias of these groups. They clearly represent their member interests. Plus, vendor involvement in major initiatives is usually spelled out. No wasting time investigating those points. Partner, counter, parry as appropriate.
- Managing relations with industry associations depends on many of the same skill sets used in successful PR and AR programs.