In Praise of Trade PR For B2B Companies

All PR teams want to earn coverage in top-tier media outlets. Businesses looking to kickstart a PR campaign may shoot for stories in publications like The Wall Street Journal or New York Times. Naturally, this is because a splashy feature on these sites can generate instant visibility, and they reach a large audience.

At the same time, every PR plan should include another type of media – relevant trade publications. Trade pubs may seem unglamorous, but they have their own kind of superpower. Publications dedicated to a specific industry, whether healthcare, manufacturing, or financial services, may lack the broad reach of a national news site, but they engage the decision-makers critical to a B2B organization’s growth. There are good reasons why trade publications can be even more beneficial than the A-list press whose names everyone recognizes. They should be an integral part of any B2B PR strategy. 

Fewer paywalls = more eyeballs

Many top-tier pubs — like Forbes, Washington Post and WSJ, among others — are subscription-based or require registration. This weeds out many casual readers. While a number of trades — such as Adweek and WWD, for example — have also implemented paywalls for some or all content, the majority don’t require a commitment. And at companies where trade news content is relevant, those subscriptions are generally covered as a business expense. This means that most trades have a built-in audience of readers that are already engaged in their content.

More thought leadership opportunities

Over the past couple of years, many large publications have stopped accepting bylined articles and thought leadership pieces from outside companies. Others require membership fees. Of course, it’s still possible to be published on the opinion page of a prestigious national newspaper, but the topic must have broad national or international relevance. Trade publications, too, are selective with the content they accept, but most will entertain publication for a piece on a relevant topic. Many have small staffs and welcome high-quality content from knowledgeable figures in their industry. This results in greater opportunities for company leadership to get their point of view to valuable audiences in the form of bylined articles or other contributed content.

Trade readers are a niche audience 

When looking at trades and how they fit into PR efforts, bear in mind that quality is far more important than quantity. Trades fit comfortably here, as their readers are a niche audience who will not only understand the product or service of a given company in their industry, but could actually have a use for it. Plus, since journalists at these pubs dive more deeply into industry topics, a mention or focus on your brand helps educate those you need to reach.  

Take, for example, Small Biz Trends, one of the most popular publications targeted to small- and medium-sized business owners. If your company offers a solution that benefits small businesses, consistent coverage in a SMB-focused trade is obviously valuable. What’s more, it can be amplified through social platforms like LinkedIn, in prospect newsletters, sales presentations, and customer communications. 

Trade stories are foundational

A solid newsstream in relevant trades will often lay the groundwork for additional stories in more broadly focused media outlets. This is because the manufacturing beat reporter at, say, Bloomberg, will naturally be following manufacturing trades that cover industries like automotive and heavy equipment. Pharma journalists will read biotech and diagnostic trades, depending on their beat, and so on. Coverage begets more coverage, and a strong trade program is a terrific foundation.

Trade allow more in-depth storytelling

Pitching trade press can be easier than getting a story in a large media outlet. The bigger outlets are usually looking for a sexier story, such as a major financing announcement or testimonial from a prominent customer. Further, they often focus on larger companies and brands. Trades, on the other hand, are often interested in stories that might be smaller and less flashy, yet more in-depth. For example, a company’s announcement of a complex, highly technical tool may be hard to communicate to a wide audience, while a vertical trade may love it. 

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Trades can be overshadowed by other press, but it’s important for PR pros to appreciate the benefits of trade stories and to explain their value within the organization.