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3 steps for starting a trade media program

When talking to current or prospective B2B clients about a media relations strategy, trade media is often a major focus, and rightly so. This super-targeted form of communications is a great way to build industry relationships, reach an intended target audience and promote your company’s story.

Looking to add a trade media program to your media relations plan? Here are three tips to help you get started:

1. Analyze the Publications

There are a lot of trade pubs out there. So how do you know which are the right fit for your audience? Our Senior Advisor Cristine Torek suggests looking at five criteria when analyzing publications for an advertising program. These same criteria can also apply when evaluating the quality of a publication for pitching trade media editorial content. These five criteria are:

  1. Publication description – Is this the right publication for your business?
  2. Audience titles by percentage – Does the publication reach the right target audience and demographic?
  3. Audited circulation information – Is an independent third-party company such as BPA Worldwide confirming the publication’s circulation claim?
  4. Percentage of direct request – Are readers requesting to receive the publication, or is it a random blast to a possibly uninterested audience?
  5. Paid subscriptions – Do readers see enough value in the publication to make a monetary investment in receiving content?

To get started in analyzing this information, you’ll have to obtain media kits from all of the publications in your industry. Media kits can typically be found on the pub’s website, but sometimes you have to request them. The media kits should contain information related to the five criteria above, so you can evaluate whether the publication is right for you.

2. Prioritize Publications 

Once you analyze the publications, it’s now time to divide them by tier and target. Prioritizing the publications in this way will allow you to better focus your pitching and trade media efforts, saving time and resources. I would suggest focusing on two tiers:

  • Tier-one publications – These are your primary targets and where you’ll want to spend most of your time pitching, building relationships and securing placements.
  • Tier-two publications – These are the secondary targets. While they may not fit all of the criteria identified above, they can still be valuable targets for a lower level of pitching and interaction.

In general, tier-one publications should certainly be audited; their audience titles should match your target audience; paid-subscription publications are better than those distributed for free; and you should look for a 75% or better direct-request rate for the publication. 

But as with anything, there are exceptions – sometimes you know information that can tip the scale. For example, if you know a publication is well-read, hits your target location and is key for your audience, but doesn’t require a paid subscription – maybe this is enough to qualify it as a tier-one publication.

Not all publications will fall into the top tier, but that doesn’t mean they should be ignored. Keep them in your back pocket for press release distribution and general news updates. They may not be your primary targets, but they can still provide good industry-focused hits for your brand.

3. Identify Opportunities 

After determining your tier-one publications, you can start identifying opportunities. The easiest way to do this is to consult editorial calendars, which can typically be found on the publication’s website. (I’d suggest pulling the editorial calendars for only the tier-one publications since they’ll be where you want to focus your time, money and energy.) 

Go through each month of the tier-one publications and pull out topics where you or your company’s subject matter experts can offer content. When thinking through topics, it’s important to push yourself past product-focused content, and instead offer content marketing or thought leadership articles that are relevant to both your B2B company and the industry as a whole.

Keep in mind that while editorial calendars are a great place to start, you don’t have to stick to them 100%. Since editorial calendars are created more than a year in advance, you never know what topics may be newly relevant or of interest to the editor.

But It Doesn’t Stop There…

A trade media program doesn’t stop after you pull editorial calendars and pitch an opportunity. Success requires building and managing relationships with the editors (after all, it is a media relations program). Stay connected with editors and look for opportunities to build relationships throughout the year – set up meetings at trade shows, offer to write for their publication blog, or set up editor interviews to learn about their readers’ interests.

So there you have it! Now you’re ready to pitch and get your trade media program up and running. But if you have any issues or need help along the way, feel free to reach out! I’d be happy to discuss how a trade media program can help promote your story. 

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