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Know your Audience: Trade Press is Key for PR Success

March 2, 2020

By Paige Donnell, Founder & CEO


One of my favorite things as an agency owner is learning our clients’ business. Because we’re based in Houston, we work with a lot of energy and industrial type companies. While many people would consider it dull when compared to the glitz and glamour of larger, Fortune 500 companies, the truth is, our clients are fascinating. As females serving mostly male-dominated industries, we see a side of the business that appeals to geologists, petroleum engineers, drilling superintendents, chemists and a lot more interesting roles than just these titles I mentioned.

The craziest part about this smart and savvy space? When we pitch to new clients, we constantly get asked if we can land them on the cover of some trendy publication. And while we love those stories too, the truth is, for virtually every company we come into contact with, they completely overlook the low hanging fruit.

Trade publications offer companies critical exposure to their key audiences.

We routinely follow what the energy reporters at the Wall Street Journal are saying about the long-term debt in the oil and gas sector and how companies are managing their cash flow. But we also know there are publications like Oil and Gas Investor, which reaches the same audience and has critical exposure in the private equity sector of the market. While lobbing a story at the Wall Street Journal or any other large outlet following this trend might get overlooked, we do know that trades are constantly looking for stories like those coming out of the companies that we work with.

And while unarguably the Wall Street Journal has a bigger reach than Oil and Gas Investor (20,567,584 vs. 23,740 readers), the question is how many of those 20 million people are in the energy industry? Trade publications are the People Magazine for E&P companies. Everyone reads them either in print or online and stays up to date with the latest trends and issues in the industry.

Similarly, recruitment stories shouldn’t overlook Human Resources Today and commercial real estate companies shouldn’t overlook the exposure that local, digital publications, like BisNow offer. These outlets are directly plugged into their industries on a regional and national basis and deserve the credit that they so often do not get.

Trade publications are knowledgeable members of the industry; not an outside source.

Oftentimes, we work with in-house partners that were once editors at a trade publication, or at the least, contributing experts. The editorial staff not only know the players in your industry, but they’re well educated on the issues that matter most.

Additionally, trade publications are often circulated beyond subscribers to those in attendance at trade shows, industry events and other sponsored activities. Normal circulation might be around 40,000 subscribers, but during key months of the year, circulation could reach as high as 100,000.

Trade publications offer more than print coverage.

The name of the game in 2020 is integration and trade outlets are no stranger to maximizing editorial coverage. Pitching for a thought leader piece in a trade publication can also yield an interview on an industry podcast or further exposure through a webinar series, daily email campaign with news highlights or a panel position at the next industry event. By establishing connections with the editors of trades, a company can put itself front and center in front of key clients and decisionmakers.

A report by AdAge suggests that a reliance on data; a focus on local influencers; and being seen as a trustworthy source are some of the top trends in PR for 2020. Working with trade publications can satisfy all of these needs when integrated into a strategic public relations program.