Getting through to the prospects which other outlets fail to reach

I worked as an editor of various engineering trade magazines (and ultimately an online equivalent) for just over twenty years. In many respects, that period of 1985 to 2005 might be looked back on as something of a golden era for the trade press: its influence was indisputable, but the companies like yours who fed it the news also had the marketing resources to complete the circle. It was not unusual to be invited on far more “press trips” each month than would allow a magazine to be written in the remaining time.

Nowadays everything conspires against this. Marketing budgets are spread more thinly, and as companies get steadily more competent at publishing material themselves, the influence of the trade press has lessened. In 1987, I was a small part of a five-strong team which produced a 300-page issue of Design Engineering magazine. 300 pages! It was a pretty decent issue too: full of extensively-researched articles accompanied by original diagrams produced by the art department. The art department! In 2013, we frequently see issues barely a tenth of this size, created heroically by a single editor-journalist-designer. The chances of your company getting an impressive feature article are minimal, in comparison, however hard you try. Even if industrial companies could still justify the budget to invite journalists on week-long tours of Japan (thank you, Mitsubishi Electric, 1997), I’d be amazed if the journalists could find the time to go.

But trade magazines can still get through to the prospects which other outlets fail to reach. And if you’ve got a story to tell to a market you don’t know, especially if it’s something the prospects might not be searching for, then the trade magazine should still be a primary target. Just remember that the editors are often under incredible pressure, and need as much help as you can give them. There’s never been a greater need to produce well-written, informative and (above all) attractively illustrated material.

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