Barbara on May 11th, 2010

I’m not a fan of the growing schism between Altimeter Group and the rest of the analysts. One of the most visible wedges driving this rift is the idea of “rock star analysts.”

“Rock star analyst” is an old notion with deep roots among financial analysts. Originally, rock star analysts were the ones who made the right call the most often, especially on complex decisions. They made their clients the most money. There was a strong body of proof and formal professional consensus behind the status.

Not so on the tech analyst side of the aisle. What does “rock star analyst” mean to analyst relations people and analysts today? It seems to mean an analyst scores high on RSS readership, Twitter following, social net savvy, citations in the media. In short, celebrity status. Customer satisfaction isn’t a meaningful factor, beyond the PR value of the analyst.

What does celebrity status have to do with accuracy, completeness, timeliness? With giving clients great advice?

Why would a decision maker want to hire a celebrity to help with tech decisions?

It’s time for a reality check. Of the many reasons one might hire an analyst, celebrity status is — at best — just one aspect of the package.

Update, for clarification: I’m criticizing the rising popularity of labeling an analyst a “rock star” due to celebrity status. I see Altimeter Group as an unwitting victim of this craze. Ray Wang and his associates have proven their chops as technology & business experts. Putting them on rockstar pedestals strictly because of their social media popularity is insane. And arguably, it’s a disservice to the entire analyst profession. - BF May 12, 2010.

Popularity: 12%

IDC logoJay Andersen was in touch to remind me that IDC, Hill & Knowlton and the IIAR will host a luncheon meeting for analyst relations professionals at next week’s IDC Directions 2010 in San Jose, Calif.

Advanced registration is required. If you’re involved in analyst relations, at an agency or vendor, you can register for the meeting. Likewise, if you’re between AR-focused jobs, you can register. You’ll also get complimentary access to the full-day IDC conference.

Request your invitation via an email to Peggy O’Neill at peggy.oneill@analystrelations.org. More at IIAR blog.

Big thanks to IDC, the analyst relations practice at H&K, and the IIAR for their generosity in arranging the private luncheon and the free access to the Directions 2010 conference.

Details
Hyatt Regency - attached to Santa Clara Convention Center
Cypress Room
March 10, 2010
12:15 PM - 1:15 PM

12:15PM - 12:30 PM
Crawford Del Prete, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Research, IDC, will provide an overview and highlight the details of IDC’s end user IT research strategy. His presentation will include an update on IDC’s Insights organization, IDC’s MarketScape assessment tool, and the ground breaking IDC Insights Community.

12:30 PM - 1:05 PM
Joshua Reynolds, Senior Vice President, Hill & Knowlton’s global tech practice lead, will present key findings from H&K’s 2009 tech decision maker’s study, the latest insights on the impact of AR on IR and corporate valuation, and the evolving role of AR professionals as they take on Influencer Relations roles in the new social media era.

1:05 PM - 1:15 PM
Peggy O’Neill, Board Member IIAR, will provide a brief update of IIAR initiatives and discuss the benefits of IIAR membership.

Popularity: 10%

Interested in certification as an analyst relations professional? Looking for an analyst relations training course with benefits, such as a certificate of completion? If so, you have several choices for obtaining credentials. Here’s how four AR cert programs stack up, including who offers them, who can take them, what the programs cover, and how much they cost. Plus, some closing thoughts on ROI and funding.

Certification v. certificate of completion

Analyst relations professionals can obtain two types of credentials. It’s important to understand the difference between a certification and a certificate of completion.

Accreditation as a certified Analyst Relations professional: Certification is intended to provide proof of an individual’s overall AR practitioner knowledge. Currently, it requires passing a written test. This designation is the AR equivalent of PRSA’s Accredited in Public Relations (APR) and IABC’s Accredited Business Communicator (ABC) credentials.

Certificate of completion: A certificate of completion provides documented proof that an individual successfully completed a professional development training course in AR. Currently, it does not require passing a written test. This is the AR equivalent of a certificate of completion for a class at a vocational school or college.

The providers: who offers AR certification, training certificates

One professional association and three AR consulting companies offer AR certs:

The IIAR is the only cert provider that does not require candidates to purchase a training course. Instead, the IIAR tests on knowledge they say is best gained on the job and by staying current with the worldwide industry analyst business.

Another difference with the IIAR is that its certification test reflects input from the other 3 cert providers as well as from experienced practitioner members. One consultancy – KCG – provided its entire certification test to the IIAR as raw input.

Training is mandatory for certs from each of the three AR consultancies – KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. These programs emphasize professional development first; certs are an important yet secondary aspect of their programs. The certification test is an option with KCG. Participants can take the KCG course without completing the certification test.

Attendees will encounter differences in the proprietary courses taught by KCG, Lighthouse AR and SageCircle. Differences can include AR terminology and some of the advocated best practices, tactics and program measurements.

1. Comparing AR Cert Programs at a Glance

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Features
Certification as AR Professional Yes Yes No No
Certificate of Completion No No Yes Yes
Certs Offered 1 lifetime professional certification 1 lifetime professional certification Certificates of completion
in 4 courses
Certificates of completion
in 5 courses
Suggested experience level 2-3 years FT or
3-4 years PT
None needed;
runs from intro to advanced level
Intro,
intermediate & master courses
None needed; starts at intro level
Written Test Required Required No No
Training No Required Required Required
Languages Available English English English, German English
Printed Cert Yes Yes Yes Yes
Cost Per Person Free to IIAR members;
Others: £100
$1,200; group discount $1,250 per course; group discount $495 - $995 per course; group discount
Study Materials Included No Presentations, workbook, copy
of KCG’s book “Influencing the Influencers”
Presentations, workbook, copy of Efrem Mallach’s book “Win Them Over” Presentations, workbook, online library
Add’l Items Bundled in Price 1 re-test, if needed Private inhouse training Private inhouse training; 1-year IIAR membership; Framed large-format certificate of completion Private inhouse training; Framed certificate of completion

  

2. Comparing the Topical Focus of AR Cert Programs

Cert Programs Topics
iiar-logo
  • Detailed knowledge of the industry analyst industry and AR best practices
kcg-logo1
  • Comprehensive understanding of AR professional skills, best practices and processes
lighthousear-logo1
  • Intro to AR
  • Operational Effectiveness
  • Messaging & Influencing Analysts
  • Selling AR Internally
sagecircle-logo
  • AR Social Media Strategy
  • AR Measurement
  • AR-Sales Partnership
  • AR Effectiveness
  • Strategic Issues

  

3. Comparing Options in Testing & Training

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Testing
Length of Written Test 120 questions 52 questions - -
Test Format Online, timed Pre-printed, take home, unlimited completion time - -
Test Pass Rate 70% 90% - -
Re-test Option Yes Yes - -
Cert Training
Training Venue - In person, live webcast or online In person or
live webcast
In person or
live webcast
Duration of Each Course - 1 day (8 hours) 5 hours 5 - 8 hours

  

4. Comparing AR Cert Program Activity

IIAR KCG Lighthouse AR SageCircle
Cert Program Started Oct 2009 2004 2006 2008
Content Refreshed As needed or Annually Continuously Annually Quarterly
Total No. of Certs Issued Very few 500+ 40 - 50 Declined to comment

  

Bottomline: What’s the ROI?

None of the providers offers ROI analysis or compelling case studies justifying investments in AR certs. Aside from the IIAR, the providers said that the real value is in the experience of their training courses, rather than in obtaining the actual cert.

In addition, awareness of these certs is very low outside of AR circles. None of the four providers is promoting their certs directly to vendor management or to the high tech marketing industry at large. As a result, making the case to management for the time and money required falls squarely on the AR practitioner.

So what is the value of getting a certificate or being certified as an Analyst Relations professional? The four providers say the value lies in:

  • Increasing individual confidence and respect within the AR community
  • Raising the standards of the AR profession
  • Creating competitive advantage for individual recruitment and promotion
  • Establishing a companywide common denominator in AR knowledge, vernacular, practices and processes
  • Meeting company or association requirements for ongoing professional development
  • Tapping into company funds earmarked for professional development

Please add any other AR certificate or certification programs in the comments. I’ll update the post accordingly.

Popularity: 8%

Barbara on January 13th, 2010

While tech providers have had formal analyst relations programs for 30-odd years, only Gartner and Forrester Research have reciprocated with influencer programs dedicated to vendor AR teams.  GigaOM Pro, the industry research arm of GigaOM, is about to shake up the status quo with today’s formal debut of their Analyst Relations program.

The GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations program shares some expected similarities with the Gartner and Forrester programs. For example, all three programs require members to be involved in some capacity with analyst relations. All three programs also offer basic benefits to their AR participants, such as more in-depth knowledge about research agendas and decision rationale and special opportunities to get to know analysts and management.

So, what’s different about the GigaOM Pro AR program?

1. AR members receive a free, full access GigaOM Pro account.

2. AR members have full read/write community features. This means that AR members can use the community platform — within reason — to comment on GigaOM Pro research findings and engage with analysts and other subscribers.

3. AR members create a public-facing personal profile page, so that all other community members and analysts can get to know them as well. This is a great opportunity for personal branding and networking as an AR professional - not only with GigaOM Pro analysts but also with GigaOM Pro subscribers. Think about that.

4. AR members can leverage the program to build relations with the pool of GigaOM Pro analysts. It’s a constantly changing group of some of the most influential SOHO tech industry analysts and research-driven thought leaders in North America, handpicked and carefully vetted by the GigaOM Pro team.

You should also consider a few cautionary pointers:

  • Sleuth the community before you start commenting, just as you would with any professional network.
  • If you misbehave — i.e. post inappropriate comments or inappropriate volume of  comments — you may suffer more than having your account closed down. GigaOM attracts a sophisticated and knowledgeable readership. Your company reputation is on the line as much as yours whenever you comment.
  • Be clear with everyone in your organization that this is a program designed specifically for people who handle analyst relations. It is not a doorway into GigaOM for press relations or press releases or a ticket to hijack research.

I strongly recommend this program to AR professionals. Check out the FAQ and if you like what you see, apply online. Or contact Mike Wolf, vice president of research at GigaOM Pro, for more information.

Useful Links

GiagOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - Info & Online Application

GigaOM Pro Analyst Relations Program - FAQ

Popularity: 9%

Barbara on October 27th, 2009

Ten years ago 91 analysts and journalists went on record with their top gripes about vendor briefings and vendor PR representatives - in other words, “AR”. Jeffrey Tarter, then the mastermind behind Softletter, did the research and compiled the results. That report is still useful perspective for analyst relations professionals today. It’s one of the links I’m posting here, part of  what I call the AR historical archive.

For the last few years, I’ve housed this list at the IIAR’s free Yahoo! community for analyst relations professionals. The IIAR plans to shut down that group in December. So I’m posting my archives here. The links are ordered by date.

The link to Jeffrey’s landmark report is at the end of this first section, Analysts on AR.

The second section (next post) puts the analyst business under scrutiny. It contains links to historical journalist and academic content investigating the analyst business.

ANALYSTS ON ANALYST RELATIONS (2007 - 1999)

ES Research Group 02-2007: “Working with Analysts” Free. Dave Stein blogs on analyst/vendor relations from both sides of the aisle

JupiterResearch 12-2006: “Lessons in Analyst Relations” No longer online. Free. Michael Gartnerberg blog post. Softly supports dedicated inhouse AR over other models. Original link:
http://weblogs.jupiterresearch.com/analysts/gartenberg/archives/2006/12/lessons_in_anal.html

AMI-Partners 11-2006: “7 Ingredients for a Winning Analyst Relations Program” Free. Reprint of Laurie McCabe’s out-of-print Kensington Group article, at the ARmadgeddon blog

RedMonk 11-2006: “Interview with James Governor, RedMonk” Free. Interview transcript on Helzerman’s Odd Bits Blog; scroll down to “Analyst Relations 101″ portion in particular.

Security Incite 11-2006: “Analyst Relations - Vendor Pet Peeves” and “Top 5 ways to piss Mike off” Free. Mike Rothman blogs on ”a couple of other things that annoy me about dealing with vendors”. And, the top 5 things vendors do that they shouldn’t.

Forrester Research 11-2006: “Analyst Models Are Key To Briefing Impact” $. Research Brief. Accommodate market models used by analysts, to improve likelihood of a successful briefing. By Kevin Lucas.

Forrester Research 10-2006: “The Three Archetypes Of Industry Analysts” $. Research Brief. How To Identify And Work With Advocates, Strategists, Evangelists. By Ray Wang.

Forrester Research 8-2006: “Five Steps For AR To Improve Credibility With Product Teams” $. Research Brief. This report focuses on five best practices for earning credibility with product teams. By Ray Wang.

Forrester Research 7-2006: “How to get a briefing at Forrester” Free. Charlene Li’s candid blog post with personal and general perspectives.

Burton Group 3-2006: “Gartner: Speedtalk for 30 Minutes” Free. Guy Creese’s blog jabs Gartner, then explains 3 common mistakes dogging vendors attempting to brief analysts.

Gartner 9-2005: “This is Ground Control to PR Tom” Free. Andy Bitterer blogs on understanding analyst coverage to target the right analysts.

Enderle Group 11-2004: “Building a Vendor Advisory Council” Free. Rob Enderle’s whitepaper defining the goals, methods, and measurements for building a successful analyst advisory council for a supplyside company.

Saugatuck 7-2004: “Reviewing Vendor Analyst Relations Management” No longer online. Free. 3 common, expensive mistakes: not deeming AR strategic; spending too much money on research; using PR firms for AR. By B. Guptill. Original link: http://www.saugatech.com/151view.htm

Giga Information Group 4-2003: “Analyst Relations: In-House or Outsourced to a PR Firm?” $. Idea Byte. AR should be internally staffed, or at least centrally managed, by experienced personnel rather than outsourced to PR, and the factors driving this become more pronounced as the company grows in size and complexity. By Rob Enderle.

Softletter 10-1999: “The Decline and Fall of Public Relations” Free. 91 reporters, editors, and analysts share specific rants about vendor PR. Compiled by Jeffrey Tarter.

Popularity: 3%

Barbara on May 6th, 2009

One of the challenges facing high tech marketing is how to update existing analyst relations programs, given the growing importance of more types of influencers. No one wants to lose valuable AR skills. Yet, companies want to realize better returns from these staffs and programs.

This puts AR at risk on 2 fronts. The first is a matter of perception: becoming marginalized as other types of influencers win more share of mind with vendor sales and management.

The second risk is that AR will fall out of step with marketing priorities as new
disciplines displace traditional marketing silos and spend.

I believe that, like the analyst business, the analyst relations profession is not going away anytime soon. However, there are good reasons to start aligning analyst relations with newer
ideas about who’s influencing whom, how to fund influencer programs and how to measure results.

Popularity: 2%

Barbara on February 10th, 2009

To industry observers the situation seems clear: changes taking place in IT buyer decision processes require corresponding changes in how vendors deal with influencers, such as the industry analysts. However, the changes in tech decision-maker processes have been gradual and have varied greatly by market. Plus, critical aspects of buying decisions remain hidden from external view. As a result, few in tech marketing are aware of the extent of change taking place in their customer decision processes. Even fewer are thinking about how best to map the new realities to Analyst Relations programs.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with 3 of the people who are not only thinking about it, but translating their observations and ideas into practice: Evan Quinn, director of Corporate Analyst Relations at HP; Jennifer Bartolo, vice president of IT Influencer Relations for SAP; and Debashish Sinha, vice president of Marketing for HCL America.

They are pioneering analyst relations for the next decade. You can check out my initial notes in our newsletter, The Influencer.

Popularity: 7%

Barbara on December 18th, 2008

Chain Linked
How do you know whether you’re looking at a traditional analyst relations program or one already adopting elements of influencer relations?

Rely on simple, straightforward litmus tests to distinguish between the two. Try this one:

Traditional AR programs focus on trend watchers at the analyst firms.

AR programs moving towards influencer relations focus on trend watchers and trend makers.

Popularity: 3%