So from time to time I have had to deal with PR firms representing a client from whom we needed information. Some were rather helpful to make sure we did get what we need in order to understand their client while others have been a bit indifferent over the fact that we were not top tier. Some worked hard to support their clients in having a productive relationship with the analyst community while others acted like they were back in middle school in setting up and burning bridges with relative ease.
I had an interaction with an agency recently where they took the position that they should receive a copy of a report in exchange for one of their clients briefing one of my colleagues. This is not a new practice but one that I still find irritating given the lack of professional courtesy that said expectation displays. First of all, I have never once heard of a supplier briefing that was worth $3,500 or whatever the price of a full market study is running. I know that suppliers will try and pitch that story to analysts and it falls on deaf ears. Secondly, PR firms are paid for their time even though their contributions to analyst coverage is, at times, dubious. Why do they feel entitled to the marcom budget but the people whose opinions are sought by the market aren’t?
What a good PR/marcom firm should do is make sure that every media outlet, website and analyst knows what their clients are working on. They should facilitate requests, make sure the company spokesperson is properly messaging and doing so as often as possible. They should be developing coverage for the clients and doing so with a proper attention to professionalism. Treating analysts as the help or worse will damage their clients in the market. I have seen it happen. Instead of listening to the vendor’s side of the story my colleagues called the vendor’s customers, learned what they needed to and issued research notes without their input. Or, they simply avoided the PR people’s attempts to get their clients noticed.
Improper? Well, considering that the customers are the best validation source out there I don’t think so. And, while getting the vendors’ input on things is useful it rarely offers anything close in value relative to how the customer base views them. Depending on the size and stature of the company, once an analyst is up to speed they need not do more than follow the news releases or social feeds and peruse the website.
I do think it is part of the PR firm’s job to provide advice on the firms that are out there and recommend the best firms with which to engage or consider buying reports from. They should be monitoring who are the most well followed or who gets the most visibility. But that’s still a fine line to walk because the analyst firm you dismiss for one of your clients might very well be the one you really want to be aware of your new one.
Something to consider…..