How to Optimize Trade Publications in Public Relations

When determining meaningful media opportunities for your clients, you and your client may immediately think of well-known regional and national news publications with large, comprehensive audiences. While these publications can offer incredible opportunities for clients looking to gain visibility from local and national audiences, their audiences are often very broad and do not typically result in great ROI, especially for B2B organizations. In contrast, trade journals can provide unique and much more targeted media opportunities for many businesses.

This article will outline what exactly a trade journal is, how to determine whether a trade journal makes sense for your client, how to identify the appropriate publication, and how to make a lasting connection with industry trade journals to create consistent coverage opportunities for even your most niche clients.

What is a trade journal?

It is important to first identify what a trade journal is and the unique media opportunities these publications offer. A trade journal is a publication that focuses on one specific industry, providing content specific to that niche such as trending topics, product or service reviews, expert commentary, industry-specific advertisements, and other content that might resonate with those working in a particular profession. Trade publications can exist as journals, magazines, or newspapers and often publish monthly or quarterly print journals, with most having a strong online presence where you can find more regularly occurring content. Pro tip: learn about the publication’s print media opportunities as they might differ from what’s offered online. Additionally, some trade publications offer additional media opportunities like podcasts – which might be a great option for a client looking to explore additional thought leadership opportunities within their specific industry.

Think of the most niche industry you could possibly imagine, and I guarantee a trade journal exists to cover its most trending news and prominent thought leaders.

Determine whether a trade journal makes sense for your client, then identify targets.

When developing your client’s media relations strategy, determine whether a trade publication makes sense as a media target. Does your client have expertise when it comes to commercial real estate? Construction accounting? Pharmaceutical technology? It might be worth doing a deep dive of publications covering those topics your client can speak to if they are looking to gain visibility or recognition among their peers and/or decision makers in a particular space.

If your client is interested in trade media opportunities, the next step involves conducting research and gathering information on a list of relevant trade journals that you can present. Most importantly, take the time to review each publication’s editorial calendar, as these can provide crucial insights with regards to monthly content and advertising topics (which often align with the journal’s content for that month). Analyze the information found within each editorial calendar to see when and where your client can make an impact, whether via expert commentary or by supporting a relevant article. Trade journals tend to focus on a new topic or set of topics every month or quarter depending on the publication, so it is important to be knowledgeable about timelines when sharing opportunities with your client.

Make a connection and capitalize on the relationship.

Once you and your client have determined a list of trade journal targets, begin introducing yourself. Find the appropriate contact at each targeted journal, typically the editor, and introduce yourself as well as your client, their spokesperson (or people), and share a few areas of expertise. Include information about your client or subject matter expert that would be of interest to the editor, such as any relevant skills, accreditations, and products or services (if applicable). The introduction also acts as an opportunity for you to learn more about the publication. You can also request information on editorial and content submission guidelines so you can be best prepared for any questions your client might have. Pro tip: use your network! Ask around your agency to see if anyone has worked with certain trade publications and/or editors and find out what their experience was like.

If you are able to access the publication’s editorial calendar prior to your outreach, you can also utilize your introduction as a pitch for future content opportunities, outlining the months your client can offer relevant commentary or advice based on the journal’s focus area that month or quarter. Working with an editor, you may be able to create recurring trade media coverage opportunities for your client simply because the publication is in need of content that your client can speak to in many facets, time and time again.

Something to watch out for when conducting outreach to trade publications is pay-to-play opportunities, or paid exposure. Certain trade publications are strictly pay-to-play, meaning that all content found within their publication is paid for by those who are authoring it. It is valid for your client to be interested in pay-to-play opportunities, but it is important to note that the cost of paying for coverage is often not included in a PR agency’s regular retainer.

Trade publications can be an invaluable asset to your client’s media relations strategy. If you are able to find and target the appropriate publications, trade journals can provide numerous opportunities for your client to shine throughout the year.

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