Forget The New York Times. Send news to niche publications instead.
Clients and top company executives typically want large, national publications to mention their company. They dream of a feature story on their company in The New York Times. For companies in many industries, a feature in The New York Times is more likely to boost a client’s ego than sales or revenue. Although national media outlets provide substantial publicity boosts, trade journals and other types of niche publications offer more valuable media opportunities for many companies, especially those in B2B industries. More often than not, businesses underestimate the PR value of trade journals, though most PR professionals recognize their importance in a PR plan.
“If the big-name media feature is the show horse, then trade publication coverage is the less glamorous workhorse of PR,” says Richard Etchison at Crenshaw Communications.
Specific PR Benefits of Niche Publications
Niche publications offer these PR benefits:
Reach a specific audience. A feature in the Huffington Post offers little benefit to a business that sells a casting reel for left-handed fishermen, notes PR and marketing expert Jenna Cason in Business 2 Community. Despite the site’s millions of daily visitors, few readers will be interested in buying the item. An article in B.A.S.S. Times, with a circulation of about 100,000 readers, will reach avid fishermen. Even if they don’t need a left-handed casting reel, they probably know someone who does.
Explain a technical story. Major publications usually cover broad topics in general terms. B2B publications get down to the nitty-gritty technical details. Because they and their audiences already have industry background knowledge, companies can quickly get to the specifics of their product features and benefits, saving time in media pitches, podcasts and interviews.
“Because both the writer and the eventual reader of the article already have an understanding of the subject matter, you’ll likely get a more in-depth feature piece than you would be able to secure in a top-tier publication,” Cason says.
Build legitimacy in a niche community. Industry insiders respect the credibility of trade journals and specialized consumer publications and treat them as valuable resources. In some sectors, industry associations distribute free publications to their members. That promotes objectivity and trust in the publication. If laws and regulations that affect the industry are passed or debated, a trade publication usually analyzes the issue and implications for the industry. “A consistent presence in the right trade outlet can announce the arrival of a new company as a legit player, or it may help establish a founder as thought leader,” Etchison says.
Large digital presence. While the number of trade publications in print has dwindled, digital versions have greatly increased. Specialized blogs have also proliferated. Many create videos, podcasts, email newsletters, and social media posts to augment and promote their stories. Niche publications may share articles on social platforms, enabling companies to re-share the posts and expand reach. Links on trade pub sites provide excellent SEO benefits.
Greater use of press releases. Many PR pros say press releases have become obsolete. That may be true for pitching major B2C publications, but B2B trade publications appreciate news releases relevant to their niche audience. Frequently, B2B editors run a press release in both print and digital pages, share them on social media, and include links to your website. Editors might also ask for an article about the technology behind the product.
Lower hurdles for media mentions. National publications want to cover large companies and earth-shattering news. Placing an article in a major publication may take months, if ever achieved. Niche publications are happy to report on small companies in their sector. As long as the pitch is on topic, they typically respond to media requests faster and publish articles sooner. In addition, because niche publications are often short on staff, they’re more open to accepting contributed content.
Repurpose content. PR and marketing pros can repurpose content placed in niche publications into owned media, case studies, white papers, webinars, and pitches to larger outlets.
Entry to consumer publications. Journalists and editors for major newspapers and consumer magazines often use trade journals to identify possible articles and to perform research on article assignments. The trade pub article may become a key reference for an article in a major consumer publication.
Recommendations for Pitching to Trade and Niche Pubs
Follow the same recommended practices for media pitching to trade and niche publications as mainstream publications. Researching the publication’s specialty is just as important – or even more important.
“Even if it’s a trade publication in your industry, you need to do your research,” states Steve Kleber at Kleber and Associates. “You don’t want to pitch a commercial product to a publication that focuses on residential. Just because it’s a magazine about building products doesn’t mean yours necessarily fits. Pitching irrelevant information may cause your future pitches to go ignored.”
When PR professionals start working in a specialized field, it’s important that they become familiar with trade magazines in that industry. Subscribe to print journals and email newsletters in the sector to keep up-to-date with developments in the field. Although some trade journal subscriptions can be costly, the highly specialized information they contain usually makes the expense worthwhile.
A publication’s editorial calendar, typically available on the website, offers a treasure trove of story ideas to pitch. Mind the deadlines as print magazines typically pick articles months in advance. Information created for advertisers, also often posted online, offer valuable insights into the publication’s audience. Search their website’s for writer’s guidelines before submitting guest posts. Also, address editors by name in emails and include a personal message in any email pitch.
Bottom Line: Their readerships may be small, but trade journals and other niche publications offer enormous PR benefits. Niche publications may form the foundation of PR and media relations for many organizations. Their audiences are passionate and educated about the topics, and most have an online and social media presence.
This article was first published on May 29, 2018, and updated on Dec. 11, 2020.
William J. Comcowich founded and served as CEO of CyberAlert LLC, the predecessor of Glean.info. He is currently serving as Interim CEO and member of the Board of Directors. Glean.info provides customized media monitoring, media measurement and analytics solutions across all types of traditional and social media.