I don’t know who needs to hear this, but analyst relations and public relations are not the same thing. Do they both fall in the realm of marketing? Yes. Do they both include the word “relations”? Also, yes. If you were to do a quick Google search for “analyst relations,” it’s easy to assume that AR is something like PR. You’d be wrong, especially when talking about earned exposure. Just like Mom and crazy Aunt Sally, though part of the same family, these two “relations” have quite a few differences.
They serve different purposes.
For one thing, while the point of PR is to generate headlines, the goal of analyst relations is to secure analyst coverage and build credibility. Both are important in expanding reach to potential clients. But, as Rachel Bernstein brilliantly phrased it, while media coverage informs buyers of possible solutions, analyst coverage confirms which solutions are best, helping businesses cut through the clutter. Naturally, it’s important for PR and analyst relations to work closely together. Reporters will often cite analysts when referencing industry trends and predictions. And you can’t expect analysts to include you in their research if they know your story isn’t grounded in reality.
They run at a different pace.
If PR is a 5k, analyst relations is a marathon. Thanks to the internet, the news cycle for today’s media is measured in minutes and hours. The speed at which a press release is published can make a huge difference to its success. And if it’s not timely – as in immediate – it’s not news. Analyst relations, on the other hand, is much more a long game. Briefings and inquiries are scheduled weeks in advance; analysts’ research is planned months in advance; and it typically takes several interactions with an analyst to build that foundation of trust and credibility needed to be included in relevant reports.
They depend on different levels of commitment.
When it comes to commitment needed, analyst relations takes the cake. Sure, for a press release or news article, you may need someone from the C suite to ok a quote, do a quick fact check or jump on a call with a journalist. But analyst relations requires an extensive amount of time from executives and subject matter experts. Analysts need access to senior leadership and those that are doing the work, not the marketing team.
They have different barriers to entry.
Getting your company written about in newspapers, magazines and online sites can be a great way to build your brand and drive traffic to your website. But the fact is, just about any business with the right contacts or budget can get media share. And there are a surprising number of pay-for-play publications out there. Here’s where analyst relations differs. While paying subscribers to analyst firms enjoy some member benefits, they are paying for access, not coverage. Whether you pay or not, however, your company must have a high-quality product/service with real, measurable results as well as an effective analyst relations strategy in place to realize any meaningful outcomes.
They require different skillsets.
Given all of the above, it’s natural that these two functions should require different areas of expertise to manage. If your company is ready to invest in a dedicated analyst relations role, whether using an internal resource or hiring an outside agency, it’s important to not confuse analyst relations experience with PR experience. A successful analyst relations pro will have the knowledge and skillset to help you build mindshare, trust and credibility with analysts; obtain tangible outcomes from analyst interactions; and achieve real results for your business.
Potato, Po-tah-toe? Not quite.
It’s a common misconception that analyst relations is just another form of public relations. Though it is true that both practice the art of storytelling to “pitch” products or services to a target audience, the ultimate goal of each is quite different. PR is a sprint, while analyst relations is a slow burn. Analyst relations requires a greater commitment from executives as well as a robust strategy to obtain coverage. And, just like you wouldn’t ask Aunt Sally to cut your hair or Mom to go skydiving, it’s best to make sure you have the right person for the job.
To be clear, there is much more to analyst relations than what we’ve discussed here. These differences are related to the “earn” side of the relationship, or gaining influence. Like a family tree, there’s another branch of analyst relations that focuses on the “learn” side, or gaining insights that help define a company’s business strategy. But we’ll talk about that side of the family in another article.