Why do so few B2B companies pursue media relations as a way to support lead generation?
According to Curata, 47% of B2B buyers consume three to five pieces of content before speaking with a salesperson. Ensuring that a consistent number of those “touches” comes from earned media mentions by trade publications or industry influencers can help to build trust and credibility for your brand.
When it’s integrated with your other marketing tactics and channels, public relations can act as an accelerator for your lead generation efforts, helping to nurture your prospects into the consideration phase of their buyer’s journey.
So why don’t more companies leverage this awesome opportunity? Often, marketing staffs are often so busy trying to create and distribute content, prepare for trade shows, maintain a presence on social media and run ad campaigns that they may not get around to cultivating PR opportunities – especially if they don’t have a specialist on staff who can focus on it.
In other cases, B2B marketers may have strong relationships with the advertising sales representatives of these publications. But they don’t know how to pitch article ideas to their editors.
Media relations isn’t a time-consuming task, but it does require systematic and consistent follow-ups with editors and internal subject matter experts. That’s why smart companies often hire a fractional PR professional to help with it.
How to cultivate relationships with trade magazine editors
A key part of a successful media relations program is cultivating productive relationships with trade magazine editors. But before you reach out to them, you need to do your homework. Here are three tips to help you prepare:
Do your research: Start by determining which trade magazines you should focus on. Not all of them are created equal. Ask your product marketing and sales staff which magazines and websites their customers rely on for industry news, trends and competitive activity.
Peruse the archives of past issues on their website, if they’re publicly available. Focus on these key areas:
- What types of articles do they typically publish?
- What is their typical editorial style? Technical? Educational? Opinion-based?
- What industry trends or issues do they tend to focus on?
- What have they covered related to your type of product or service? (this information is very helpful to help you differentiate your pitches)
Analyze the magazine’s editorial calendar: During the fourth quarter of each year, all trade magazines publish an editorial calendar for the following year’s issues. It’s like a preview of coming attractions in the magazine. It’s used as a tool to sell advertising and sponsorships for the publication. But it’s also a convenient summary of the topics and issues they’ll be focusing on during the next 12 months. Most often, the editorial calendar is contained within the publication’s media kit.
As you scan the editorial calendar, look for relevant topics and areas of focus that may be related to your company, products, services or technologies. Make a list of them in a spreadsheet, including the cover date of the issue, the topic, in which section of the magazine it will appear and any relevant deadlines.
Don’t forget to skim the paid opportunities within the media kit for anything that may be of interest. Many publications offer single-page advertorials with a facing page of advertising – an excellent way to capture the attention of busy readers. Newsletter sponsorships are another affordable way to get your brand in front of prospective buyers. In short, focus on the editorial opportunities in the magazine first, but don’t overlook its paid “quasi-editorial” offerings.
How to pitch an editor on an article idea
Here’s a brief, four-step process to get your content ideas in front of trade magazine editors:
- Summarize your article idea with a title and several key points, so the editor has a clear idea of its proposed focus and content.
- Briefly explain how and why it’s relevant to the needs of their readers.
- Refer to its editorial calendar – where will this proposed article fit into its upcoming special emphasis issues?
- Send the editor a brief email containing this information. Be as concise as possible.
Await the editor’s feedback – don’t nag with phone calls. If you don’t receive a response within a week or two, a polite follow-up email is appropriate.
Keep in mind that by giving your company and its products free press in their publication, there’s an unspoken assumption that you will reciprocate by investing in its paid marketing opportunities. Most editors are too polite to come right out and say that to you, but it’s part of how the B2B media relations game is played. One hand washes the other.
Respect their time: Most trade magazine editors don’t mind receiving emails with pitches for story ideas. But they expect you to be prepared and respect their time. They’re busy and often understaffed. Too many companies send them pitches that are poorly thought out. They also get inquiries from companies and agencies asking them for a detailed briefing on the industry - but offering nothing in return. There must be an exchange of value, or they won’t pay attention to your solicitation.
Get on the good side of editors by helping to make their jobs easier. Keep your inquiries and pitches concise and laser-focused on their needs. Get them the information they need on or before their deadlines. They don’t have time to chase down sources and resources. You can do that for them. They’ll appreciate it!
Remember – the editor’s goal is to provide value to the magazine’s readers: Whenever you’re reaching out to trade magazine editors, keep the needs of its readers front and center. Share trends, ideas and insights with them. Help their readers solve common problems in their work. Tell them about innovative products that can save their readers time, money or hassles.
Cultivate has had excellent success arranging “media days” for several of its clients. It conducts a series of 30-minute calls during a one- or two-day window with client representatives and the editors of key trade magazines. They offer a number of compelling benefits:
- They’re excellent opportunities for editors to learn what’s new at your company.
- They’re very helpful in uncovering their current needs.
- They provide editors with an opportunity to explain how they prefer to have companies work with them.
- We use each publication’s editorial calendar to focus the discussions on key opportunities (including topics, formats and deadlines and asking the all-important question: “How can we contribute to this feature?”).
- They tend to reveal “off-book” opportunities that aren’t in their media kits.
Contact us today to learn more about structuring a PR focus that supports lead generation and how we can help you identify and capitalize on a wealth of trade magazine editorial opportunities.