Often when we talk about analyst relations opportunities we’re talking about the opportunities that we create. We have our priority list of analysts we want to engage with and we make those engagements happen via briefings, inquiries, and more. Our strategy is clear, our interaction topics are aligned to our goals, and we’re purposeful in what we’re presenting and why.
But on the flip side are analyst engagements that are unplanned – the ones where the analyst is reaching out to us for contact, engagement, and information. These inbound requests are usually outside our scope of planned work and sometimes outside our scope of planned strategy. They can result in low yields and they are more likely to exhaust our speakers if we agree to every request.
When inbound requests come in, we find our clients are usually torn on what action to take next. No one wants to damage a relationship with a potentially valuable analyst or dismiss an opportunity to increase their brand awareness by denying the request, but there is already enough work to be done with the analysts on their prioritized lists.
Vetting inbound requests
In these situations, we suggest creating a workflow for inbound analyst requests. Using a set of evaluation criteria can help you determine if the inbound request should be prioritized over the day-to-day workload. These criteria should be aligned with what matters most to your program. For most of our clients, evaluation reports, analyst firms, audience, and research category are what they prioritize when considering inbound requests. But you can easily tweak this model to best align with your program objectives.
The next time an inbound request from a non-prioritized analyst comes in, trying using a checklist like the following to help you prioritize:
Does this analyst publish evaluation reports that are relevant to my category?
Most analysts are involved in some form of evaluation research like Magic Quadrants and Forrester Waves, but not all are in markets you want to be known for. While it’s always appreciated to be asked to participate in evaluation research, it’s important to vet the request against your AR program’s goals. Ask yourself: Will being in this report really help my company move forward? Are the time and resource investments worth it to play in this space?
Is this analyst from an analyst firm that you prioritize?
Between the heavy hitters like Gartner, Forrester, and IDC, plus the boutique category-focused firms, there are tons of analysts from analyst firms who could be asking you for information. But when inbound requests come in, you need to have the analyst firms you prioritize already defined. If the analyst is from one of your prioritized firms, it’s more likely (but not guaranteed) that you’ll want to take their request.
Does their audience align with yours?
Each analyst has a specific set of customers they write their research for. Sometimes their customer audience will be the same customers you’re trying to target, but sometimes… they won’t be. If an analyst’s audience aligns with yours, prioritize engaging with that analyst. The impact of your efforts is more likely to reach your desired prospects than if you were to put time towards an analyst whose audience isn’t quite right for your business and goals.
Is their research on topic with what we want to be known for?
Similar to checking the box for aligned audiences, you want to make sure that the analyst’s research itself aligns with your goals and objectives. If an analyst writes about a category that you’re not trying to be known for, it may not be worth it to invest time and resources into their inbound request.
Next steps: Accepting the request
If you’ve made it through the checklist with three of the four questions answered as a “yes” then this is likely an inbound analyst request you should pursue. Although it may increase your (or your team’s) workload, by vetting the request against your priorities, you’ve made sure that the investment is worth it.
Next steps: The request isn’t quite right
If the inbound analyst request doesn’t meet enough of your vetting criteria, it doesn’t mean you should completely ignore the analyst. There are opportunities to help this analyst stay up-to-date with your company through 1-to-many initiatives like analyst portals, press releases, or quarterly webinars. Reach out to the analyst an invite him or her to engage with one of these avenues to maintain your relationship with the analyst, but politely decline any activity that would take away from your priorities.
When it comes to prioritizing inbound requests, tough choices will have to be made. But analyst relations professionals and teams who stick to their priorities are more likely to make gains in their goals because they’ve put their resources towards what absolutely must happen. Your speakers, leaders, and teammates will be thankful for your diligent prioritization and you likely will, too!