by Maddie Winer

April 29, 2024

Before joining the Dix & Eaton team just two months ago, I was a trade media editor covering the automotive aftermarket. I received dozens of emails each week from companies asking me to interview their expert or consider a story idea around a product, event or company initiative. While I appreciated the outreach, upwards of 80% of them missed the mark.

Most topics didn’t concern my audience. Some companies weren’t even industry players. Others didn’t have any news value.

However, the ones that did pique my interest had certain aspects in common that I’d like to share. Whether you’re reaching out to the media yourself or working with PR professionals, like our team at Dix & Eaton, below are a few ways you can catch a journalist’s attention as you’re brainstorming how to gain more media coverage for your brand.

  1. Timeliness is next to Godliness. If you look at the elements of newsworthiness, timeliness is tops. Think about what’s going on in your industry and in your company—the big trends everyone is talking about. How can the executives you work with speak to industry dynamics (lookin’ at you, supply chain and AI)? How are they responding to today’s economic environment and new products on the market? What political factors are affecting the way they do business? Offering your company’s expertise around a timely, relevant issue or topic is always helpful as trade journalists are constantly looking for sources to comment on industry news.
  2. Talk about tech. At the last conference I attended as a trade journalist, one speaker pointed out that nowadays, every company is a technology company. Think about the ways in which technology helps your company operate or interact and transact with customers. Consider how the technology that goes into your products is providing solutions for your customers or a certain industry. Do you have a first-of-its-kind solution? Is your product, service or software solving one of your customer’s major pain points? Define what makes your use of technology unique and why it would appeal to a trade publication’s audience. For the good of the industry, share how you’re using the latest technology to make their jobs easier.
  3. Highlight your experts. From podcasts to videos and webinars, there are so many ways for your company’s subject matter experts (SMEs) to be highlighted in content. As a journalist, you’re often tasked with “feeding the beast” when it comes to recurring content like podcasts, and it can be hard to fill those slots, especially if an interview falls through. Offer your tenured people, patent holders or SMEs to speak on a certain subject or a few subjects. I know when pitches like this came my way, I always had an idea about what I’d like to discuss with the expert, and it was a great way to collaborate with their PR pros on content that benefitted both parties. Oftentimes, this can lead to other opportunities like the chance to contribute content or an op-ed.
  4. Take a contrarian view. This is often overlooked, as many companies don’t want to rock the boat in their specific industries. However, taking the path less traveled will garner attention and spark conversation in your industry. When you offer a different point of view from what’s traditionally accepted, you’re asking the journalist and their audience to think differently and recognize your company as a thought leader. When I was covering the automotive aftermarket, we wrote a ton of content about the future of EVs in the industry; but the pitches that triggered my interest pointed out how we were far from an EV-infiltrated future.
  5. Think about impact. The best stories are never about a specific product or event. Instead, they always dug into the impact of a certain subject. What action, emotions or change did they trigger? For example, the shortage of technicians has plagued the auto repair industry for decades—that’s nothing new. The story that made an impact was how the industry was rallying around organizations or coming up with their own ways to help in recruitment efforts from trade schools. Clearly communicating how your organization’s initiatives, programs, events and products are making an impact now or in the future is attention-grabbing. Ask yourself: In what ways is your organization creating change now or in the future in your industry?

All of these tips come together when you tailor your outreach to a specific trade outlet. As a marketing or communications professional, you know your customers (aka audience demographics) and prospective customers. Align your messaging with the industry content they read. This helps make them more informed and positions you as an authoritative source.

Lastly, I would encourage each marketing and comms professional to read (or even skim!) trade publications and look to form relationships with those editors. A simple note saying you liked a story, column or cover design goes a long way. Seek to understand what the journalist is interested in covering or has on their radar, then you can better align your messaging with what’s already on their editorial schedule.

Relationships with influencers like trade journalists are key to helping your brand get the attention it deserves. Interested in brainstorming some story ideas? I’d love to talk. Drop me a line, and we can get to work!