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Top-Tier Is Nice, but Trades Are Where It's At

A Guide to Creating Corporate Messaging that Stands Out

The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Business Insider, Bloomberg — the dream media list for any startup.

Top-tier publications are widely read and respected, providing real opportunities for companies to get on the map. Even a mention — let alone a full feature — is enough to boost a company’s credibility and brand awareness, so it’s no wonder startups and established businesses alike have the same goal of landing a feature story in one. 

And while a headline in The Wall Street Journal is largely attainable, the path it takes to get there requires hard news, real data, available customers, patience, and quite honestly, a little bit of pixie dust.  

Enter stage left, trade publications 

Trades are the bread and butter for any startup, but also the most often overlooked. A trade is a publication, website, or magazine that focuses on your specific business or industry. The right trade will understand your company, what you do, and why you’re doing it. And while the readership of a trade publication will not match that of The New York Times, for instance, the benefit of building brand awareness in key trade magazines is a valuable step for any company.

4 reasons why trade publications are beneficial for your brand 

1. Trades build brand awareness by putting your company directly in front of the audience you want to reach

There are trade publications for every single industry: robotics, water, cybersecurity, agriculture, drones, fashion, parenting, warehouses.You name it and there’s a trade for it. Trades will cover companies and industry issues in much more detail through features, interviews, industry analysis, surveys, etc., catering directly to an audience of business professionals who are looking for products and services just like yours. 

And the people who read trade publications get it. They understand the nuances of various industries and technologies. A feature story in Bloomberg, for example, while great will only give a general overview of a company and its technology because its readers don’t have the time or patience for much more than that. A trade, however, will dive into the technology, how it works, and the overall impact on any given industry because the audience wants to know.

2. Trades place your products and services next to your top competitors 

In the startup world, the competition is real and companies cannot afford to be left out of the conversation. For companies offering similar products and services, media coverage is the best way to showcase why your company is better than the others. And trades are the place for that.  

Unlike top-tier reporters who often won’t cover the same topic twice, trades will cover the same topic and company from multiple angles, because that’s the industry they are focused on. This means there are more opportunities to be compared directly with competitors through interviews, industry analysis reports, white papers, and podcast episodes. Some trades even offer virtual webinars and panels, providing a chance to speak directly to an audience alongside the competition.  

3. Trades elevate your position as an industry thought leader 

The news cycle in 2020 has been unlike any other and more often than not, top-tier reporters are pulled in to cover beats outside of their normal focus. Even if they are interested in covering your company, they probably won’t have time until things settle down.

For the most part, trade reporters are unaffected by the news of the moment. If they are, they will be looking for commentary from those who are experts in the industry, so a quick email to that reporter will likely result in an interview or commentary opportunity. Another perk? When looking for experts to speak with, top-tier reporters will often read through an industry-specific trade, which means published commentary will help position a company CEO or other executive as an industry leader. The next time that top-tier reporter needs an expert’s opinion, yours will probably be one they ask for or pay attention to.  

4. Growth and exposure in trades will lead to coverage in top-tier publications

For new companies entering the scene, building a strong media footprint in trades is a surefire way to build awareness and credibility. Coverage in a top-tier publication is possible and should be a company’s goal, and trades are an essential step in the process. By building a following and strong reputation in top trade magazines and publications, top-tier reporters are more likely to trust your expert commentary and opinion on why or how the industry will be impacted by any given news moment. 


New to the media industry? Learn how to build strong relationships and communicate your company value to a reporter.

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