Know your niche when pitching to the trade press

The world of specialist B2B PR is populated by hard-to-please technical editors and demanding clients that may not be media savvy, so these are the dos and don'ts of trade press media relations.

Pitching to trade press is a unique challenge, writes Ceris Burns
Pitching to trade press is a unique challenge, writes Ceris Burns

It is fair to say there are some niche business-to-business (B2B) magazines out there, with catchy titles not dissimilar to Cranes & Specialized Transport Bulletin, or Filtration Innovation World.

But while there is no doubt that the agenda of the trade press is different to that of the national media or consumer press, it’s important to recognise the significance of this bustling and competitive sector, and the unique challenges of co-ordinating PR for trade press.

In our world of information overload, demand for quality technical insight is high, and editors in the B2B sphere are some of the hardest-working professionals in the media industry.

Equipped with deep knowledge of their sectors, many trade press editors have qualifications and experience in their subject matter, and don’t suffer fools gladly.

At the same time, the expectations of clients seeking coverage in the trade press needs to be managed – B2B clients typically expect a faster return on investment than those in the B2C sphere, anticipating a short timescale before they get in the limelight, and forecasting a close link between PR activity and direct sales.

While direct sales can certainly be generated through top-notch B2B campaigns, the wider benefits of PR and how these can be measured must also be clear.

What a client feels is newsworthy may be wide of the mark compared to what will make it into the best trade press titles.

It is important that their PR account manager pushes back when needed. The best specialist agencies will include former trade press editors and journalists in their ranks, who know how the market works, can guide clients accordingly, and turn dry, technical information into engaging, newsworthy copy.

If a bit of leeway is needed on a deadline, having a long-established relationship between a PR account manager and B2B editor can make the difference between gaining column inches, or losing an opportunity.

Editors who have trust and confidence in the quality of content they receive are also likely to be more receptive to the next pitch, happier to meet for a drink, and more co-operative when conducting interviews.

Clients, too, should be encouraged to meet the editors when possible.

But while this type of networking is the editor’s bread and butter, clients may have met the press very rarely in the past, if ever.

A bit of coaching may be required.

For those who are serious about gaining more coverage for their clients in the trade press, the key points to remember are quality, relevance and relationships.

Specialist, boutique agencies with their sights laser-targeted on the B2B sectors they serve can be highly effective in this field, demonstrating the agility, tenacity and technical knowledge required to please all parties.

Ceris Burns is managing director of Ceris Burns International

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