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July 15, 2022

4 Must Haves for Pitching to Trade Publications

Media relations is a timeless tactic used to increase brand awareness and generate leads. Though it’s a staple in many marketing strategies, execution can sometimes fall short due to improper targeting and poor planning.

Successful earned media starts with honing in on the publications best suited for your industry and messaging. With the bulk of True’s clients being B2B, we focus a lot on pitching to trade media whose audiences are professionals who work in a specific industry.  

Consider these four tips when formulating your strategy for pitching to trade publications:  

Tip #1: Know Who You’re Pitching To  

Before you even send a press release or a pitch, you need to research the right publications and the editors within. It’s best to take the time to get to know the publications relevant to your industry and the roles of the editorial staff at those publications. This can help you to avoid pitching a piece of content to an editor who doesn’t cover the beat or to a high-level editor who doesn’t handle story assignments like those  who may report directly to them.  

Create an overall list of publications using tools like Cision PR Newswire and internet searches, At True we start by creating these lists, and consult with our clients to determine the publications their teams and customers read.  

Once a list is established, it’s time to take a deep dive into each publication. Subscribe to them, read them regularly, and dig through their websites. Familiarize yourself with the brand and key staff members. See which editors are writing about which topics and begin to update your list with key targets and pitching notes.  

Tip #2: Build Relationships

With trade publications, building relationships with editors can make a big difference in pitching success.  

When getting started with the media relations strategy, it’s important to understand an editor’s communication preferences. When I was an editor for trade publications earlier in my career, there was a handful of PR practitioners who worked hard to build a relationship with me and to pitch me news items they knew were within my coverage area. In turn, I made sure to keep those people in mind when their product categories came around; I didn’t give them preferential treatment, but I would be sure to check in with them and always answer the phone when they called.  

To further those relationships, it’s good to find opportunities to meet in person, such as at tradeshows or when you’re in their area for other travel.  

Putting in the time and effort upfront can increase efficiencies down the line.  

Tip #3: Tailor Your Content

The goal of most trade media is to provide serviceable content professionals can use to do their jobs better, and therefore there are certain standards trade publications must uphold to provide readers with content they can depend on. Building upfront knowledge about publications and editors can help ensure you’re pitching content each editor truly cares about. 

Not only that but be prepared to speak intelligently—in other words, know the topics you’re pitching well and make sure they’re relevant. Many trade editors have been in their industries a long time; they know what resonates with their readers.  

Your research can also guide you in what they have and haven’t already covered. This knowledge will not only help you to avoid pitching a story they’ve written about before but can also help you identify fresh angles on previous topics they may not have considered.  

In addition to the type of content, understand the style of stories that the publications use. For example, some editors welcome pitches and sources for articles they will write, but others may be open to contributed content, provided it’s educational in nature. With this knowledge, you can pitch bylined articles related to products or services, thereby positioning yourself as a resource with the magazine’s readers and keeping your brand in front of target audiences in a prominent way.  

For example, True pitched and placed this two-page bylined article on behalf of client Envision Outdoor Living Products. The article itself focuses on educational material, but the client receives recognition in the photo captions and bio.

Tip #4: Manage Expectations 

Getting to know target trade publications is also key to managing expectations. Simply put: Some news items or story ideas just aren’t going to get picked up by every publication in the industry. For example, in the construction industry, only a handful of magazines publish personnel announcements. If you want your piece of news to be on the cover of Builder magazine, it’s our job to be upfront as to whether that’s truly attainable. The type of content will tell us which magazines to pitch and what results are most attainable.  

Creating targeted lists—and keeping them up to date—takes time, and it’s easy to get overlooked. But it’s one of the most critical parts of successful pitching. Set aside time each day to read the publications (and their newsletters and websites), making note of any interesting stories or follow-up opportunities. And devote time each week to update your lists and strategies accordingly, looking out for new editors and new publications while finding ways to nurture those relationships.  

Interested in creating a media relations strategy? Contact us today!

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