A/R Hell, Thursday, February 21, 2008

A/R Done Right (not "Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap")

  1. Prioritize.

    Resources are never infinite. It’s important to prioritize firms, as well as analysts within firms. Who are the companies and people who matter to you?

    Prioritization allows you to provide a little focus, and build relations with the companies and people who matter to you.

    An important consequence of this is that A/R coverage needs to be linked to analyst respect. If a respected analyst writes something "bad" you need to find out why (and do something about it).
  2. Decouple analyst tours from product intros.

    Analysts hate being sold. If you are talking to them when you clearly have no sales agenda, they will be more receptive to your message. In addition, there’ll be no artificial scheduling constraints; you'll be pressuring neither them nor yourselves to conform to an announcement calendar.
  3. Look for opportunities for high-level people to talk to analysts.

    Analysts are non-linear thinkers; questions from left field are de rigueur. Vice presidents or other highly placed individuals tend to have wider exposure and the ability to take a crack at any question about the company or any global issue affecting the company, even if it’s not in their area. Some analysts also like to play "stump the speaker;" your cachet only goes up with the other analysts when you win.

    An important corollary is that for "push" activities (which tend to have larger audiences), if it's important enough to do, it's important enough to send a VP.
  4. Analysts welcome legitimate feedback.

    Often, analysts are the only persons in their company covering a particular area or technology. As such, they have an extremely limited opportunity to bounce around ideas or get feedback.

    If you can establish a relationship where there’s some two-way respect, they will hunt you down as a sounding board and a source of reasoned feedback. There’s no better way to shape opinions and gain buy in. They’ll also seek you out to help them with any disagreements they may have with your company — before these spill over into the press!
  5. Be careful about what you distribute.

    Put yourself in their shoes. Is it urgent for them to have the latest 10MB PowerPoint presentation clogging up their inbox while they’re on the road at the other end of a slow Internet link? Would they even care about the subject matter?
  6. Don’t send A/R unarmed to fight a battle of wits.

    If your internal stakeholders can't convince your own A/R people the analyst is "wrong," how can they convince the analyst?
  7. Get A/R (and analysts) involved early.

    Would your internal stakeholders rather hear bad news from A/R, now? While there’s time to do something about it? Or embarrass themselves in public?
by Ray Fusci

A/R Hell, Tuesday, July 31, 2007

"That analyst wrote a terrible article about us. What do we do now?"

It happens more often than we'd like. An analyst submitted an article for courtesy review, and it's bad news. If this gets published, we'll look bad. What to do? I know! Let's have a senior VP call the analyst, and express our displeasure. Do we have any leverage on the analyst? Maybe we can hold their subscription services renewals hostage and stop the article that way! Or if all else fails and it gets published, we can issue a press release saying what an idiot the analyst is.

I've seen all these tactics proposed several times, and even tried on occasion. But consider:

This is where you lean on your established relationship with the analyst. (You do have one of those, don't you?) More than anything else, analysts want to be right. They will also bend over backward to somehow make you look good, as long as they don't have to lie.

Analysts respond well to reasoned, supported input. Show them where they got it wrong, and why. Show them where they may have previously published opinions that differ. If you can't do that, at least be specific about what you object to, and let the analyst defend it. ("This article is terrible" just won't cut it.)

The case where the analyst got it right after all is even more interesting, but here you can often soften the blow by having the analyst also report what you're doing to make it better, or also report on related areas where you shine.

by Ray Fusci