Friday, August 1, 2008

Pre-Briefings to Analysts for Public companies

Interesting post on the subject of pre-briefings to analysts for public companies on the Hill and Knowlton AR Blog. Although it is considered an important tool for AR professionals, it can be a very sensitive issue with public companies and can involve the risk of revealing confidential information too soon. My solution is to let the lead analysts know in advance that we will publish a significant PR and that they will get the information immediately. We always brief the analysts before any journalist or other media.

Some of Hill and Knowlton's tips for this process:

  • Ascertain how the news relates to that second maxim – will it materially hurt your business if it becomes public knowledge prior to the embargo date? Is your CEO quitting? Are you being acquired by a competitor? If so, then keep it to yourself – though it won’t hurt to give your best friends in the analyst community a heads up to keep their eyes open for the announcement.
  • Pick the analysts you want to pre-brief carefully...restrict to selected Tier One influencers... people who will both act as a source of credible third-party comment to the press and people you want to get closer to because having a more intimate relationship will meet top-line AR goals of driving sales and revenue.
  • Limit the number of analysts you do pre-brief. In most cases, there’s no need to go beyond two or three of your closest friends.
  • If you are talking about a new product briefing, then you should engage the analysts early, at least three to four months before the announcement date. This will provide them with the opportunity to give feedback while you can still actually gain some benefit from it.
  • Then come back to them again for a sanity check a couple of weeks before the announcement. For announcements that are more material, brief within 48 hours of the announcement... and preferably within 24.
  • Diplomatically establish the ground rules with the analyst when asking them if they are interested in the pre-briefing and setting up the call.