Companies across the board still struggle to wrap their arms around a well-planned and executed content strategy, but to editors and writers of PR trade journals, managing a long list of original content creation, research studies, events and more is second nature. Matthew Schwartz, group editor at PR News, joined ProfNet for a #ConnectChat, where he offered a behind-the-scenes look at how PR News keeps up the pace in an ever-changing content marketplace.
What is PR News?
PR News is a 60-year-old trade publication that covers PR, marketing and other communication channels. We have a dedicated website, weekly print publication (that is subscriber-based) and a huge portfolio of events and webinars. Like covering any industry, PR trades are crucial for PR and marketing pros who need to stay atop of the trends.
Why are trade magazines a staple to PR?
Trades get beneath the surface of the industry, profile the major players and read the tea leaves of professional development. PR trades are also popular because most people working in the field are admitted media junkies. It’s not a stretch.
What makes the PR audience an interesting one to write for?
Because we’re a how-to pub, our audience makes it easier for us because it is vested in our coverage in terms of how to do your job better, build ties with senior executives and, ultimately, win bigger budgets for your PR and marketing campaigns. We’re all about covering the how-to and, trade pubs or not, the entire planet is now embracing a how-to dynamic.
How has PR News changed over the last five years to adapt to industry changes?
In the last five years, we have shifted our coverage (heavily) to social channels and social marketing. We still cover traditional PR, such as crisis, but online communications now drives our day-to-day coverage.
How can small businesses be featured in a trade publication?
Study the publication and see how we write and cover PR and marketing subjects and see how your brands can fit. We don't do brand portraiture; we're about the how-to and how to do your job better. Ask: Do you have instructional content? Can you provide intel or intelligence about PR trends and the problems that PR pros face on a daily basis?
Is having paid advertisements in a PR trade publication a conflict of interest?
There should not be any conflicts of interest. It depends on what the edit/sales divide is at [said company].
How can brands be featured in a trade publication?
Regarding brands being featured in PR News, study our website to see how you can add to the conversation. Pitch away. Pitch stories with a how-to bent, that can help lift the entire profession, as opposed to your simply own company.
What role do external thought leaders play in your strategy?
[Thought leaders] play a significant role in our coverage. Leaders know the pulse/DNA of the industry. We try and create opportunities to speak with thought leaders (and regularly invite them to our events). It demonstrates to our audience that we are following the movers and shakers in the business (which requires constant vigilance).
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What are the benefits of being featured in a trade publication?
The benefits of being in a trade publication [include] exposure for your brand and your products and services, showing the market your and competitors that you are savvy about trade coverage and that you want to position your brand as a thought leader. It also puts the spotlight on your senior executives and that they like to mix things up in the media.
How does PR News come up with story ideas for so many different publications?
We need to be somewhat reactive to the market for example, a story on Snapchat after it raised a new round of funding. We also need to make sure we're regularly covering all the PR bases a la media relations, crisis, measurement, and training.
Is news jacking possible with trade publications?
I don't see why not, so long as it's relevant for your audience. We divide the coverage between newsy stories with a PR angle and best practices for the entire PR waterfront. We're more inclined to run a story on how to do newsjacking, rather newsjack ourselves.
What types of content perform the best?
For PR News, the content that performs the best is how-to content, preferably w bullet points that readers can "rip and read." Content focusing on news ways to message, measure and distribute content also perform well. It's all about snackable content.
Is there a specific strategy to try to get featured in a trade pub versus any other media outlet?
Big difference in pitching trades to consumers; you have to be surgical on the consumer side and broaden the pitch so it speaks to broader themes vs. niche themes for the trades. It's the difference between "vertical" and "horizontal.
What are the most important metrics you use to measure content?
We are getting away from "vanity metrics" and embracing page views/shares as measuring our editorial prowess.
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