Tackling the Trades

There are a huge number of trade publications and sifting through them to find out which ones are good and which ones will really reach your target audience takes some planning and research. This process of building your target media is essential as a blanket approach to the publications and journalists will likely result in your story going in the bin with the other generic press releases.

Of course it’s likely that you already know the best trades covering your market, they may be on your desk or on your tablet waiting to be read on the train home, if not it’s probably time you subscribed to a few to get a sense of how their pages of news could fit with the stories you want to tell. It’s also worth asking some of your ultimate audience – clients, suppliers, staff etc – what they read and then making sure these titles are added to your list of target media.

Some of these publications maybe also be useful as advertising platforms but the average reader will be far more likely to believe and absorb your messages if they have come via the ‘filter’ of a respected magazine and journalist. This fact is why your target media list shouldn’t just have a list of publications but also the specific journalists, editors or even freelancers that cover the relevant section – even fairly niche trades will have quite distinct sub-divisions so you should try and ensure you contact the right person from the start.

The preparation you need to undertake before interacting with the media is similar whatever news platform you are facing, but it’s likely that editors of the trades will have a better understanding of your industry and may well already know more than you expect about your organisation. You can therefore expect to do a little less handholding and context setting when it comes to explaining what you do, but it’s never a good idea to overestimate a journalist’s knowledge – it might be their first day on the job. There’s also less chance of a trade journalist burning you after an interviewing, primarily because they have a relatively small pool of sources to find their stories from so it doesn’t do them much good if you’ll never return their calls again – another word of warning though; being a little bit cautious when dealing with any journalist you don’t know well, is probably wise.

Depending on the industry; some trade publications are very small, with the editor also being the sole journalist – the quality of these will vary as much as with the larger outfits so they shouldn’t be overlooked. Whatever the size of the title, it’s likely that these days the journalist is stretched, covering a number of different patches and having to write a number of articles per issue, often producing separate content for the website too. Under resourced journalists can be a problem or an opportunity; if you can’t provide a clear, interesting story they may not have the time to research and write it from scratch but if you can give them all the elements they need, then you are far more likely to see the article you expect, and want, in print.

Finally, whether you have an appetite for national print or broadcast coverage or not, keep in mind that the major news organisations scour the trade press for good stories and ideas, so just because your interview was with a one-man trade title, it doesn’t mean that’s where your quotes are going to stay.

The trade press is often considered safer territory for PR and media spokespeople beginning their press relations, and it can be, but some of the same dangers are present whether you are dealing with them or Sky News – so it’s best to take these publications seriously and prepare accordingly. But if you do handle your dealings with the trades in the right way, and can build up relationships with them, it will be hugely valuable for your organisation.

Written by Will Edwards – www.bluewoodtraining.co.uk – October 2013

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