Through social media outreach and blogs, we have become our own publishers. We can create and share our own content without having to get the approval of the traditional editorial gatekeeper. However, in a comprehensive B2B public relations program, it’s still critical to place a company’s content in trade publications that speak directly to their target prospect audience.
Whether aiming for print or online B2B trade journals, several things are clear. We have to build a relationship with the editors by showing them we thoroughly understand their publication. And we have to show them that we are offering relevant content and not just seeking publicity. But here’s where it gets tricky. Despite our commitment to creating quality content, we really are competing with lots of other publicity seekers to get their brand in front of those readers!
I read the results of a recent survey of 500 digital publishers regarding what they want—and don’t want—from public relations pitches. Although the survey focused on general news, business and consumer outlets, the editors’ sentiments were very much in line with B2B trade publication counterparts I’ve worked with. Here are some of the common themes:
It’s important to have a complete understanding of the subject matter and audience of the publication or news site. For example, a publication for chemical engineers can be highly technical for practitioners or more business focused on industry happenings, products, people and events for company managers.
We take a lot of time dissecting the key publications and websites in the industries our clients serve. In addition to feature articles, there are other content opportunities available. Trade publications and websites have sections (often called “departments”) such as “industry news” or “new products” or “technology update.” By noting the subject matter, tone and length, we create content that will be a good fit for the publication as a whole as well as the specific portion of the magazine or site. As part of our research, we make sure to address the right editor for the content area. Technical editor, online editor, senior editor, managing editor, each has specific responsibilities.
Pitching & Press Releases
Nothing will make an editor delete an email faster than a generic press release sent out like birdshot without a specific target in mind. Our research guides us in selecting the publications or websites we want to hit. Then we come up with a few tailored ideas for each, based on clients’ needs and goals. When I was the editor of a trade publication for commercial equipment finance professionals, I’d often receive pitches for real estate finance pieces or consumer loan articles. Again…delete.
When crafting our subject lines, we again refer to our research. To stick out from the inbox crowd, it helps to make them match the style of titles in the publications. Note the length, word choice and tone. Do they use verbs in their headlines? Although this seems obvious, keep it clean with regard to grammar and spelling. And get the editor’s name right. Megan, Megen, Meghan. It matters.
It takes time, effort and a good deal of research to find that perfect fit of client content and publishing opportunity. And even then you might not make it in. But building a relationship with editors based on mutual professional desire to present relevant content can turn PR pitches into a reliable editorial asset.
Survey source: “500 Digital Publishers Tell You What They Want” by Fractl
Lisa Goetz is a public relations executive at Schubert b2b, where she primarily writes content and manages media relations. She brings 20 years of editorial and communications experience to Schubert b2b and holds a PhD in English literature from Duquesne University. When not in the office, Lisa likes to take excursions with her husband and hang out with her cat and a good book.