I have worked, on behalf of my clients, with both the media and industry analysts for a long time. Though both offer great value to an organization, I must state the obvious—they are not the same thing.

Analyst firms should be a consideration if your organization falls within their areas of their coverage —which, similar to the media, you must know. Analysts cover a broad range of topics and offer excellent insight into purchasing behavior and industry trends for organizations that rely on them, which are both necessary when creating yearly goals.

In my experience, analysts appreciate being “briefed” every six months with new developments, product launches, and new happenings. However, though analysts may include your company in their research, be sure to set your expectations. If a write-up is the goal following the analyst conversation, save your time and pitch the media. Analysts go much deeper than the immediate article. Take stock in what you need to learn and what you have to offer, because an analyst relationship may be just what your company needs.

I asked Sean Pike, Program Vice President of Security Products for IDC, three questions that I believe should be considered when deciding if an analyst briefing is right for your organizational strategy.

Doreen Clark: Who would be a good candidate for an analyst briefing?

Sean Pike: Any number of people might be the right candidate for an analyst to connect with. If, for instance, an analyst wants to learn about how a product is being messaged, then a product marketing manager might do the trick. If it’s a call to understand the company, its direction, and strategy, then a higher level of corporate spokesperson like the CMO or CEO may be the best target. It’s all about aligning expectations to fit those of the individual analyst and his/her goals.

Doreen Clark: How do analysts differ from traditional media?

Sean Pike: Traditional media is event-driven in that they report on an emerging story or hot topic and take a theoretically unbiased approach to the delivery of information. Analysts are influencers. Analysts take information inputs and form opinions in order to help buyers, investors, and market participants shape their strategy.

Doreen Clark: What are the goals of an analyst?

Sean Pike: Analysts are always searching for information that supports or disproves a hypothesis. For those that analysts rely on for gathering information, it’s important that they recognize that each conversation may be aimed at gathering something different. One conversation may be intended to simply better understand a technology or market, while another may be intended to support a key piece of investor research. It’s critical that analyst relations and product marketing personnel ask analysts the purpose of a briefing well in advance of the actual briefing in order to prepare appropriately. In addition, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone learns a little differently. Some analysts might prefer a lot of PowerPoint slides, while others might prefer demonstrations or a simple discussion.

In conclusion, this is what I know to be true: Organizations must understand the difference between an analyst relationship and a relationship with the media—along with its benefit. Overlooking this potential when creating your public relations strategy can be an unfortunate misstep in delivering and gaining insight that can move the needle forward.