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By Dan Ahern

There’s an old saying in our business: “It’s not what you know, but who you know.” Yet in the intricate dance of media relations, it’s more about how well you know the “who.” PR pros who understand the distinct value of industry trade publications and forge genuine relationships with those reporters, can help a brand tell the story of its identity and its evolution to its industry peers and customers.

Quantity vs. Quality: Impressions Are Not Everything

When securing media coverage, there’s always a push and pull between reaching as many eyeballs as possible and ensuring that the eyeballs you do reach, are the right ones. A feature story in The Wall Street Journal or The New York Times is undeniably appealing. But only some products or stories fit such a broad platform and audience.

Enter industry trade publications.

The beauty of trade media lies in its specificity. While they might not boast the millions of readers that major outlets do, they cater to an engaged niche and industry-specific readership. It’s here that impressions, while numerically fewer, can hold more weight. Furthermore, many trade reporters are active on X (formerly Twitter) and boast followers who follow them for consistent industry updates.

Take, for example, The Pollack Group’s work with electric vehicle brand INDI EV, a brand that created the first-ever vehicle with a Vehicle Integrated Computer capable of high-end gaming. The agency leveraged numerous avenues of trade media, including automotive, technology, gaming, and environmental outlets, all catering to audiences that are deeply passionate about their respective crafts and hungry for the latest innovations. Trade pitching resulted in impactful media coverage and social media buzz from a variety of angles that reached INDI’s target audiences.

The Backstory Matters: How Trade Publications Help Other Journalists

Before a top-tier outlet leaps with your story, the editors conduct their due diligence. They look back, tracing the steps of your brand’s media footprint to understand its trajectory, relevance, and how it aligns with their beat.

When a top-tier journalist sees consistent, insightful coverage from respected trade publications, it not only boosts a brand’s credibility, but also simplifies reporters’ research processes. They can glean the context they need from these articles, making it easier for them to understand and position the brand within their larger narrative.

Here’s a scenario: an online retail up-and-comer is launching a pop-up activation in Times Square. A year ago, it turned heads with its experiential marketing prowess in its first Los Angeles pop-up, covered exclusively by retail trade Chain Store Age. When pitched the Times Square pop-up, a retail reporter at a notable publication can refer to that first Los Angeles success, AND the trade coverage, to entice them to cover the NYC event.

Moreover, past positive trade coverage can also buffer against negative perceptions. If a brand faces a PR crisis, having a repository of balanced, insightful trade articles can offer a broader perspective, reminding the vast media community of the brand’s overall contributions and standing.

Long-Term Relationships: You Go Where They Go

In PR, relationships aren’t just about immediate returns. They are a nuanced give and take. Many journalists at trade publications are deeply embedded in their respective industries. As they grow and evolve in their careers, they sometimes migrate to more prominent, top-tier media outlets.

By fostering and maintaining connections with trade reporters, PR professionals aren’t just accessing their current platform; they’re also potentially opening doors to bigger stages in the future. A reporter who recalls the genuine interactions, timely assistance, and consistent value provided by a PR contact is more likely to keep in touch as they ascend in their career.

The Real PR Pros Never Stop Learning

Trade publications are treasure troves of industry-specific information. Trade articles can prove to be a most valuable resource in acquiring in-depth knowledge of a new client’s sector. Regularly reading these articles, analyses, and features can provide a broader understanding of industry trends.

Moreover, as PR professionals become familiar with a reporter’s beat, they can more effectively tailor their pitches to match the journalist’s interests and style. Referring to past trade coverage or highlighting how a client’s news fits into a broader industry trend, showcases the depth and understanding that generic pitches lack. It signals to journalists that the PR professional not only respects their work but is also invested in creating a symbiotic relationship where both parties benefit.

As the PR landscape continues to evolve, the tenets of relationship-building remain steadfast. While the glitter of top-tier media can sometimes overshadow the quiet consistency of trade publications, PR professionals recognize the invaluable role that this media category plays. The heart of an industry often beats strongest in the pages of its trade publications.