Analyst ethics – views from the IIAR

10Mar08

Last month the Wall Street Journal reopened the debate concerning whether analysts are independent. This caused quite a stir amongst several AR commentators which eventually moved the discussion towards that on ethics.

The IIAR (Institute of Industry Analyst Relations) have a consensus-approved blog which has a very interesting take on this. Specifically it looked at several gray areas where analysts have stepped over the line, these include:

  • the UK company that publishes a company profile – but gives no indication that the piece was commissioned by the vendor (and for which the vendor was effectively given copy approval)
  • the analyst that writes blog posts promoting a project that his consultancy is involved in – without disclosing his connection
  • the division of a large group that prioritises briefings based on the likelihood of selling reprints of the resulting company profile
  • the analysts that use a briefing as an opportunity to pitch their own services
  • the global company that says its analysts are more likely to recommend vendor clients to prospective buyers (because the analysts know clients better than those that are non-clients)
  • the vertical firm that refuses to take briefings with non-clients because it’s so busy doing consulting work it can only handle briefing requests from clients
  • and what about this experience highlighted by the corporate AR team at HP?

As this debate continues, I recommend that you keep an eye on the IIAR – it promotes itself as a body representing analyst relations. Seeing as AR too often falls under the banner of PR, I am pleased that there is a group that understands the complex business that AR operates in and can represent its members (of which many global tech vendors are signed-up) against the often ‘one-size-fits-all’ attitude of many analyst firms.

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