Happy Halloween, AR readers! Get ready to be spooked! In honor of the scariest day of the year, we’ve compiled scary AR stories from analyst relations pros. Steeped in experience, these AR leaders show that unplanned and unexpected events can happen to anyone (dun, dun, duun!)… so best to mix a great deal of preparation with a good sense of humor and the ability to adapt on the fly.
Dim the lights, grab a flashlight and read aloud in your creepiest, most ominous voice:
Would this ruffle your feathers?
“I was leading an analyst briefing in support of a critical ranking report. We had prepared and rehearsed for weeks, the live demo was tailored to perfection, a top reference customer was lined up, and everything was super-organized.
The briefing started, quick intros, agenda… then off we went. Except — my main spokesperson was immediately interrupted by his favorite pet: A chicken(!) stepped into the camera field and chose to sit right in front of the speaker, curiously observing the presentation. Now, that was a rather unusual sight in a Webex window. In hindsight, I would have loved a screenshot of my face from that moment. I am not easy to confuse — but that was a different level.
Luckily my spokesperson was zero-distracted… and I must say, this chicken was the best-behaved one I ever had on an analyst briefing. No picking on things, no eggs laid during the session. If anything, it made the briefing very memorable, and it removed all tension (except on my end at first).
So, would I recommend that you bring your support animal to the most important briefing of the year? Well, sure thing… but please do prepare your AR lead for it.”
This one’s a punch to the gut (literally!)
Shared by Sarita Kincaid, Vice President, Corporate Communications, SugarCRM
“Earlier in my career, a few months after I began a new AR position, we held the company’s yearly analyst summit. The event was my debut at the company and attended by hundreds of analysts, many of whom I personally invited.
While waiting for the CEO’s keynote to begin, the analysts and AR staff were in a large foyer outside the mainstage room. Right as the doors to the keynote opened, two of our staff members got into a loud fistfight. Needless to say, having two of my team fighting was the talk of the summit (and a really mortifying start to a new job) — but the analysts had a great sense of humor and were kind enough not to share anything on social media. Some of them still share a chuckle about it with me today.”
The curse of the conspicuous comments
“Have you ever sent a text or an email to the wrong person… or before you had a chance to revise it? To most AR pros, there’s nothing more exciting than being invited to participate in major analyst research! And nothing scarier than mistakenly sending the feedback/edits to the analysts with everyone’s comments still in the document. Well, that happened with one of my past teams years ago, and the fallback was worse than it sounds. Believe it or not, it’s the main reason why I scrub comments three different ways before sending any files back to the firms. Yikes!”
He said what?! This exec won’t play ball…
“For me, definitely the scariest time in over 22 years in AR happened when an AR team hired me to train a group of current and potential spokespeople. The design of training involved each employee speaking for a few minutes to their peers, and then their peers evaluated them. The most senior spokespeople, led by the CTO, flat-out refused to participate. He told me I’d never work with the company again if I made everybody do that.
I explained that his company had hired me to do this activity — so he had to either participate or leave the room. He did neither and just simmered for the rest of the day. However, the in-house AR people were delighted. Almost all the managers took part in the activity, and many came away with personal engagement plans.
As for lessons learned, I’ve seen during my career that there are multiple ways to handle difficult personalities in similar situations. In-house professionals, for instance, would look to win over executives like this over the long-term — by better understanding their interests and asking them to consider the example they’re setting for junior managers as well.”
A collection of spooky tales
“Oh, I’ve got many spooky stories. Like this analyst summit at the Intercontinental in Rome, on top of the Spanish steps. An analyst unknowingly stole a stool from a hotel guest, who was then very offended and threatened to throw himself out of the window. Thankfully, we used our executive coaching skills to reason with him, and he staggered out back to his room.
Another time, a PR agency chap sent an analyst newsletter on behalf of a PC manufacturer to a large distribution list of European analysts… only they were all in the “to:” field rather than “bcc:”. A huge flame mail thread ensued, with analysts then replying-all with jokes, and more replies to all on the distribution list asking to be removed. The whole thing snowballed for over a week. I felt really bad for him, and it can happen to anyone. At Starsight, we use ARchitect to send newsletters to avoid such problems and also have a four-eyes-vetting and approval process for mass comms.
Another spooky tale: Many moons ago, an analyst firm sales rep went to Oktoberfest in Munich and, after a few beers, challenged a client to an arm-wrestling contest. He accidentally broke the client’s arm! I’m not sure how you climb back from that and don’t think he made his quota with that client…”
We’ve all been there…
“Here are a few ‘scary’ moments I’ve experienced; many AR folks can probably relate:
- Zoom quits working minutes before a critical briefing.
- You realize a minute before an analyst call you forgot to update the Zoom/Webex link for all your attendees, including the top execs.
- The power in your house goes out, smack in the middle of a briefing or advisory, and you were tasked with taking notes and/or recording the call.
- An upset executive warns you he’ll never again work with _____ [fill in the blank with a major Tier-1 analyst firm].
- Your top executive presenter can’t figure out how to screen-share using the analyst’s presentation platform.
- A panicked executive calls you during your vacation, screaming at you that she can’t locate the analyst for her 1:1 at a conference. She hangs up, then Slacks you right back with a “Never mind, I was standing right next to her.” 🙂
Lessons learned: Always be paranoid. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst — and when sh*t hits the fan, stay calm, cool and collected. Panic is an AR pro’s worst enemy.”
A chilling tale: Semi-finished slides and analyst scorn
“Few things are more deflating than an analyst walking away unimpressed from a briefing. But what made this particular experience scary was the analyst’s unashamed sarcasm about it. The story goes like this: A simple 30-minute briefing was scheduled, and a slide deck was agreed upon with the spokesperson in advance. Somewhere in the middle of the briefing, a tinge of discomfort seeped in when I noticed that the spokesperson had replaced a few slides. The discomfort turned into dismay when I saw that a couple of slides were still works in progress — both from a content and design perspective. And the dismay developed into a proper horror show when the analyst curtly remarked, “Do you often share unfinished slides when you come in for an analyst briefing?”
Clearly, the spokesperson was very enthusiastic and wanted to provide the analyst very early visibility into the strategy — and we tried to salvage the situation by highlighting that. The moral of the story: For the more zealous spokespeople (or those with a tendency to “go rogue”), make sure to double-check slide decks right before the briefing!”
A disquieting ditty
“It was a dark and rainy analyst day in Boston.
The analysts were looking as if they’d rather be in Austin.
We were sitting, lined up in a row,
when suddenly, the wind began to blow.
The windows and doors began to shake;
the analysts began to quake.
What can this be?
A ghost to haunt me?
A customer, storming in with hate!
I can’t take this curse!
I was asleep,
and this nightmare is complete!”