Maximising AR at MWC – the webinar debrief
It’s that time of year again…no, not Christmas, but MWC-planning time! While not quite so festive, it is critical for all telecom companies that are planning the trip to sunny Barcelona at the end of February.
MWC Barcelona is the event in the telecoms calendar and the perfect time to update influential industry influencers and position yourself as a leading player in the market. In particular, analyst reports can heavily influence buying decisions, but their role is too often underestimated and companies fail to maximise their minutes with analysts at industry events.
Last week, Babel director and resident telecoms expert, Paul Campbell, was joined by a stellar line-up of analysts from GMSA Intelligence, Bloomberg Intelligence and Senza Fili for a panel discussion on how best to engage with analysts at the show.
In case you missed it, or want to recap the key takeaways, keep reading! You can also access the recording here.
Before we kick off – a big thank you to Peter Jarich, Head of GSMA Intelligence, Matthew Bloxham, Media, Technology & Telecom Research and Data Innovation Lead, Bloomberg Intelligence and Monica Paolini, Founder and Principal, Senza Fili for joining us and sharing your pearls of wisdom.
Why is MWC still important to analysts?
All of our analysts agreed that MWC is still the most important event of the year for telcos. But why?
Matthew says that MWC is a chance to speak to the broader value chain, outside of the big operators/vendors. He uses the event as an opportunity to see what interesting things are happening on the periphery and connect the dots. MWC is where he can find out whether hype around the big trends are matching up to reality.
Similarly, Peter finds MWC uniquely valuable as the broad swath of the ecosystem is present in one place. While he can check in with established companies, he can also get to know some of the new kids on the block. He tends to favour face-to-face briefings but acknowledges that the larger sessions help to indicate what direction the industry would like to be, or is, heading in.
Finally, for Monica, MWC goes beyond the average trade show – it is a social event and a chance to informally catch up with her peers. Post-Covid, Monica says that the social aspect shouldn’t be underestimated!
What are the major telecom trends that they want to cover at MWC?
The topics that our panellists said they are watching out for this year are:
- 5G Advanced and 6G
- Satellite and NTNs
- AI (“this year’s metaverse”) and automation (insider tip: Monica is writing a report on AI and automation next year)
- Open RAN / evolution of the RAN
When to start analyst outreach? And when to book briefings?
Audience poll time! We asked our listeners when they thought the best time to begin outreach is – and they voted for early January. Correct, but…
Peter (in high demand) said that he is already being approached to start scheduling meetings, three months out from the show. To secure a briefing with him, he prefers an email approach. He also appreciates when PR agencies book back-to-back briefings with several of their clients and take him between stands – makes his life a lot easier!
Similarly, Monica says “the sooner the better”. As schedules become busier closer to the show, they have to be more selective. Her preferences: email please and do not schedule anything before 10/11am. Top tip: don’t forget Thursday – often the day she has time to meet smaller companies as it is quieter. Matthew echoes this sentiment: the shoulder days are often overlooked. Ever-dedicated, he attends the Fira from Sunday to Friday to allow for stress-free hall-roaming…if there is ever such a thing!
With all that in mind, Matthew does try to stay flexible. If something piques his interest at the show, he may get in contact to arrange a last-minute briefing, even if it is just a 15-minute chat over coffee.
Are virtual briefings effective? If so, how far in advance works best?
Asked by one of our attendees, the consensus here among panellists is that virtual briefings both before and after MWC are highly valuable. Pre-briefings provide a flavour of what is to come and sharing news under embargo is always welcome. Our analysts said that post-briefings are often better than at-show briefings, as it provides a chance to reflect on the whirlwind that was!
Does having an existing commercial relationship with an analyst house determine whether they are featured in an analyst report?
Our audience voted and thought that a paying analyst relationship ‘moderately influenced’ coverage in the analyst reports. While correct to an extent, the analysts did debunk a couple of myths here:
Monica shared that it is true that paying clients will get ‘first dibs’ on the briefings, therefore she will naturally hear more from them. She stresses that this indirect impact is unavoidable, but certainly isn’t intentional – her aim in reporting is to represent everybody.
Peter also agrees with the audience – naturally, customers will align with their areas of interest, so they will inherently feature. But this doesn’t mean it is pay-for-play: his customers want to know what is happening in their field and what other companies are doing, not just a mirror held up to themselves.
Bloomberg Intelligence prides itself on neutrality, so Matthew shared that this doesn’t apply as they don’t have any commercial relationships. Insider tip: he communicates regularly with his colleagues on the editorial/TV/radio side, pointing them in the direction of interesting companies/trends that he comes across.
What information should companies share to feature in their reports?
Following the question above, how can companies maximise their chances of featuring in analyst reports?
Our panellists unanimously agreed that spokespeople should link the company / announcement / technology / product to the broader context – what role does it play and what key industry theme does it link to? Come armed with data points too.
While it may sound obvious, ‘come prepared’ – Peter said that he notices when a spokesperson has been adequately briefed ahead of the interview by the company’s PR team *cough Babel cough*.
Off-the-record – yay or nay?
Monica said that off-the-record briefings are often more productive. She cautions: do not duplicate already-available information. She can read the press release in her own time. Avoid regurgitating why basic topics are important (analysts know their stuff) and don’t go too technical on a single product (no PowerPoints!). Instead, focus on what makes it special. She also encourages spokespeople to acknowledge some of the challenges they have faced – this honesty is meaningful and makes her respect the spokesperson a lot more.
Matthew and Peter add that while they handle non-public information with care, frank off-the-record chats help to add colour to black-and-white press releases, as well as help build trust and bolster the relationship.
My CEO doesn’t understand AR! How can I change their mind?
Lastly, a question from our audience, and perhaps a pertinent one for comms professionals trying to get stakeholder buy-in to free up diaries for analyst and journalist briefings, as well as customers and prospects.
Peter says that a strong AR programme helps to bring your message to the market. But AR isn’t just about the coverage – it is a two-way exchange, where companies can get insight from analysts and input on their product/marketing strategy and a better sense of where they sit, and what their USPs are within the wider ecosystem.
Matt echoes this sentiment: analysts can share the relevant industry context that spokespeople may not be privy to. Lastly, Monica advises that companies need to make sure that they “choose the right analyst”, or AR efforts might be counterproductive – this is where PR agencies, who have the relevant contacts, come in.
If you’re putting the ribbon on your MWC plans (and your Christmas presents)…don’t hesitate to get in touch if you think we can help you out – we’d love to hear from you.
As a reminder, you can catch the full webinar below. For more information and updates leading up to MWC, make sure to follow us on socials.