Immediately prior to an event, such as IDG World Expo's OpenSource World or VMware's VMworld, suppliers having something new to offer and planning an announcement at the event do their best to "get out the word out" to analysts, consultants and journalists (A/C/Js). This means that public relations, analyst relations and media relations professionals are "on the prowl" for a time slot in an A/C/Js very busy schedule. Since my calendar usually has back to back meetings scheduled days or weeks in advance of an event, it is difficult to find a mutually agreeable time.
No time for youOn many occasions I just can't work out a mutually agreeable time for the briefing and so, I'll ask to be sent their presentation deck. I promise to review the deck when I can and get back with them if I have any further questions. It's rather irritating when an AR/PR/MR professional calls or sends Emails every day for weeks after I've received a deck to ask if I have questions. As a rule, if I've not responded that means
- I've read the deck and don't have questions,
- I've read the deck and it represents a product or service that is outside of my area of research or
- I haven't read the deck and intend to read it as time allows.
The fact that the AR/PR/MR professional has pestered me daily or even more often for a week or so has actually caused me to "fire" that individual, that is, I tell them not to contact me again because they're intruding on my time beyond what I find acceptable. The side effect is that their client, the supplier of products or services, will not get my attention until they change agencies or, at least, have a different AR/PR/MR professional contact me.
PR/AR/MR Professionals can really helpMost of these PR/AR/MR folks are very good at their jobs and do their best to provide useful information and contacts. They usually are good friends and don't abuse A/C/Js time by trying to set up meetings with suppliers of products that fall outside of their area of coverage or research. I'm pleased when these folks call because I know they're doing their best to help me do my job.
I've been known to call some of these people up when I'm working on a report and can't get information from a specific supplier. They've always helped me connect with the right contact.
I've also been known to meet with their agencies to help them understand the dynamics of some small part of the market so that they can better represent their clients' stories.
Meetings at all costsOthers, unfortunately, appear to be paid by the meeting and will attempt to create a meeting opportunity for their client by misrepresenting the product or service so that it appears like it is inside of an A/C/Js area of coverage or research even though it really isn't. Sometimes this happens when the AR/PR/MR professional really doesn't understand the product or service. Other times, it clearly is misrepresentation.
On more than one occasion, I've ended a briefing call after 5 or 10 minutes because the topic wasn't even remotely related to my areas of interest. A typical tactic these people use is to send a presentation deck moments before a briefing call to hide the fact that the topic or the product has been misrepresented.
Analyst or JournalistSome PR/AR/MR folks seem to confuse analysts and journalists. Each has his/her place in the market, has a different agenda, has a different amount of time to put something together and may or may not be able to agree to an "embargo" or a "non-disclosure agreement." The fact that an analyst publishes research in the form of a blog, article, or regular column in a journal does not mean that the analyst has become a journalist. Journalists, at times, become analysts and, because of that new role, must be treated differently than in the past.
I can't tell you how many times, something another analyst has published is presented to me as a reason why I should speak with a supplier. Since I'm supposed to gather data, analyze it and create my own opinions, it is not all that helpful to hear what another analyst has said or published.
File Format BluesI've already discussed file format issues in my recent post, File format blues. I mentioned that many AR/PR/MR professionals seem to like to send out Office 2007 formatted documents even though that format is not universally acceptable.
Here it is Wednesday and I've already had to ask 8 different PR folks to resend presentation materials in a different form because my attempts to read an Office 2007 formatted document resulted in a mess on the screen. While I'm sure that I could fix these issues, I just don't have the time to invest in that exercise.
Advise to AR/PR/MR ProfessionalsI would suggest that you take some time to understand the interests and coverage areas of A/C/Js you intend to contact. You're more likely to successfully get the attention of a busy A/C/J if your client is offering something of interest rather than something way off topic.
Live by the truth (or at least by the facts) or die. If you lie to a busy A/C/J it is quite likely that neither you nor your client will ever get a hearing again. Or even worse, you may find yourself and your client the target of a post such as this one.
If you can't answer a question, pass it on to the right person at your client rather than making up something plausible.