If you’re planning a trade PR campaign, it’s likely that you’ll be considering a wide audience that includes apprentices, odd-jobbers, skilled tradespeople who work for themselves as well as business owners who run teams of tradespeople.
“Due to this mixed demographic, one size doesn’t fit all. We have the most success for clients when we have a combination of media relations, sponsorship, social media and other platforms through which to communicate and reinforce our message,” explains AMBITIOUS director Sarah Woodhouse.
Through our work with global workwear brands and companies in the construction sector, Sarah has learned not to do media relations just for the sake of it. “What works best with this sector is developing campaigns that can play out across multiple platforms, then we provide rich content and ideas. This means there’s some value being added as opposed to just putting out product news and updates.”
The drip-drip effect
When it comes to traditional media, you’ll find lots of smaller, niche trade publications aimed at each type of trade. So, casting the net wide can be the most effective approach.
“It’s all about volume with this type of activity. With some sectors, targeted pieces of national coverage will be enough, but with the trades you usually need lots of smaller pieces of coverage over a period of time,” advises Sarah. “We’ve found that a drip-drip effect across lots of smaller, more niche publications and specialist trade titles works best.”
Also, with the trades you have to question whether you’re running a B2B or a B2C campaign. It could be business to business in the sense that the audience may be a small business owner, but remember that they are also consumers as well. You’ll need to look for the most appropriate channels depending on the angle of the campaign you’re running.
Find your audience in real time
Clients always love to see great press coverage, but don’t assume that your audience will all be reading trade titles. Many tradespeople are time poor and don’t have the time to read a trade magazine, so this isn’t always the best place to find them.
Many of these titles also have small readerships, and you’ll find many Facebook groups with similar – or sometimes larger – reach.
As with all successful campaigns, you’ll need to start by finding what your audience cares about and what they’re interested in. Consider how to reach people in the spaces they’re already active in. Social media channels are easily accessible and also in real time. Compare that to the time it takes to wait for a trade magazine to come out – you can have a much faster, more direct conversation on those channels.
The role of reviewers and stakeholders
If your campaign involves product-led PR, don’t forget the role of reviewers and online influencers.
In this sector, the digital versions of trade titles aren’t as developed as some other sectors. Magazine channels should lead the way in the industry but often the independent channels and YouTube reviewers are arguably more powerful than traditional media channels.
Map out the key reviewers and influencers in the trades you’re targeting and build relationships with them when developing your review strategy.
Don’t always lead with the product
While the business may well be product-led, the most effective PR may not always lead with the product. “Create brand differentiation through the values you align yourself with,” says Sarah. “This may be championing young tradespeople, or professionalisation of the trades. By using clever storytelling you can help to move the brand away from outdated images of what tradespeople stand for.”
Bear this rule in mind when you’re looking to create owned assets, such as videos and content. Products date quickly, so aligning your content with the brand values means that the assets you’re investing in will have greater longevity.
Working with stakeholders can be an effective way to do this, too. Look at who supports the community you’re targeting, from trade bodies to charities, and talk to them about what support you can offer them.
AMBITIOUS did this for a campaign with global workwear brand Dickies when we delivered a partnership with SkillBuild, the largest multi-trade competition in the UK for construction trainees and apprentices. This included sponsorship of the National Final at WorldSkillsUK LIVE 2018 where Dickies provided clothing for contestants and judges, helping to promote the brand among the next generation of tradespeople.