Trying to influence year in review articles

Why to small firms send out unsolicited suggestions for year end trend articles?

I had planned to write something exciting and insightful about ExtraHop's approach to management, but am still trying to clean up my desk after my exciting visit to IBM's analyst forum in Ryebrook, NY. Would anyone believe it if I said "the cat ate my notes?" No? I really didn't think so. ExtraHop's story will have to wait for another day.

I've noticed an uptick in companies, usually smaller ones in highly competitive markets, attempting to influence analysts' "year in review" articles. I've received at least ten different Emails suggesting what those companies believe are key trends of 2011 that will influence 2012.

There are several problems with this approach including the following:

  • It is clear that the PR folks representing these companies don't understand the roles of and differences between journalists, consultants and analysts. Folks who publish insight and opinion in the form of a blog come from all three categories (and many others as well.) It seldom works to use the same approach with all three. It is unwise, for example, to send a message telling one analyst about the glowing review another analyst has published. Why would the first analyst want to publicize the other analyst's work?
  • Sending too many unsolicited self-serving messages can result in that PR firm or supplier's Emails to be marked as junk mail. This means that nothing sent in the future will be read or receive a response. It is very hard for the PR firm or supplier to ever recover from being marked as junk mail.
  • Most of the time, the "trends" mentioned in the Emails aren't observable from any viewpoint but the company supplying the material. In more than one example, just the opposite appears to be happening in the market.
  • Analysts, for the most part, pride themselves on their company's broad view, interesting analysis and penetrating insight. They are unlikely just to adopt something offered by a firm's PR folks.

I'm not going to embarrass anyone by publishing portions of their unsolicited Emails. It would have been different if these folks would have called to schedule time with a company executive allowing an opportunity to discuss trends observed and what is likely to happen in the coming year.

For the most part, these Emails were gently and reverently escorted to the trash. In two cases, the PR firm's domain has been marked as sources of junk mail.