Getting started with analyst relations can prove to be quite a challenge if a company does not have any previous experience in dealing with analyst companies. At this point it is time to consider the alternatives of in-house analyst relations and/or utilizing an external analyst relations agency.
From the perspective of the corporation, it seems obvious that the company can represent itself better than any agency. However, much of what an agency does isn’t representation. Organizing and planning the analyst relations strategy, coaching internal AR stakeholders and measuring the AR success also falls into the realm of an AR agency. On the other hand it can sometimes be tough for an outside agency to get access to the contact person or information needed to brief or update an analyst. Also an analyst may prefer dealing with senior company representatives directly because they might feel that this will give them easier access to internal information not readily available outside the company.
I have been in both positions and my experience is that there are a number of benefits in utilising a specialised analyst relations agency. The major difference will always be that in house teams have experience of one vendor, whereas agencies can implement the best practices and lessons learned from many interactions. Also they probably already know many of the analysts a company wants to reach and understand the internal workings of the various analyst firms. In addition there is an advantage in an objective 3rd party view. Too much elation for the own company and its products might not be received well by the analysts since it can be seen as a lack of perspective/insight on the companies real position in the market.
Having worked with many vendors throughout my time at Gartner I have seen some good and quite a few bad examples for both options. I work for a consultancy now with clients who are more than happy with the support they get for analyst relations and influencer marketing. It is my opinion that in the end the right decision depends on the available resources (time, money and expertise) a company can “spare” for analyst relations. For many emerging and mid-size vendors it will be hard to allocate the necessary (full-time) resources for an efficient analyst relations approach. In these cases it makes perfect sense to leverage the expertise an analyst relations agency can provide to avoid mistakes and ensure professional planning and execution of the analyst relations activities.