trade PR

Trade PR: how to plan your campaign

If you’re planning a trade PR campaign, you’ll probably be considering a wide and varied audience. These could include apprentices, odd-jobbers, and skilled tradespeople who work for themselves as well as business owners who run teams of tradespeople.

Trade PR campaigns may be seen as the less glamorous side of media relations, but there is no doubt that if you want to establish your business firmly by featuring in your industry’s leading trade publication, it can be extremely influential and powerful.

What is trade PR?

Trade PR is an important part of a business’s marketing and PR strategy. However, unfortunately, trade PR is often overlooked, or businesses don’t invest in it enough. Trade PR is at the core of business communications. It aims to increase awareness in your industry and helps your company make an impact in a competitive market.

It’s not just about trade coverage. Trade PR doesn’t just generate coverage in the trade media. What many people don’t realise is that national news editors often look at trade publications to research trending or different stories.

Getting started with trade PR campaigns

Trade PR typically involves a mixed demographic, so one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. Team AMBITIOUS’s trade PR services have the most success for clients when we use a combination of media relations, sponsorship, social media and other platforms to communicate and reinforce our message to audiences.

Through our trade PR campaigns with global workwear brands and businesses in the construction sector, we’ve learned not to do trade media relations just for the sake of it.

AMBITIOUS director Sarah Woodhouse explains:

“What works best with the trade sector is developing PR campaigns that can play out across multiple platforms, from mainstream media outlets like trade magazines to online publications and social media.

“Then we provide rich PR content and ideas. This means there’s genuine value being added as opposed to just putting out standard trade communications such as product news and updates.”

The drip-drip effect

When it comes to trade media, there are lots of smaller publications aimed at more of a niche audience for each industry type.

“It’s all about volume with this type of trade PR activity to find your coverage opportunities. With some sectors, targeted pieces of national coverage will be enough, but with the trade press, you usually need lots of smaller pieces of coverage over a period of time,” advises Sarah.

“We’ve found that using a drip-drip effect across lots of smaller, more niche trade press publications and specialist trade titles works best.”

Trade PR tactics

As part of our trade PR services, we always recommend a range of PR tactics to appeal to target trade publications. These include company profile pieces, industry thought leadership articles, clients’ case studies, and press releases with your latest breaking news.

Trade publications plan their issues a few months in advance. Some even publish ‘forward features’ so that you can get in touch with relevant news and industry insights. This means that as a PR agency, we have to work to trade publications’ deadlines so that we get our clients the best press coverage opportunities.

Defining your target audience

When you’re planning a trade PR campaign, you have to consider whether you’re running a business-to-business campaign (B2B) or a business-to-consumer (B2C) campaign. It could be B2B in the sense that the audience may be a small business owner, but you need to remember in your trade communications that decision-makers are consumers as well.

This means you’ll need to look for the most appropriate channels depending on the PR angle of the trade campaigns you’re running.

Finding your audience in real-time

Our clients always love to see their business in the press, but we never assume the wider audience will all be reading trade magazines.

Many tradespeople are time-poor and just don’t have the time to read a trade magazine, so this isn’t always the best place to find them.

That’s why with all successful trade PR campaigns, you’ll need to start by finding what your audience cares about and what they’re particularly interested in.

Consider how to reach audiences in the spaces they’re already active in to secure great press coverage.

Social media channels are easily accessible and also in real-time.

Your niche audience will have a genuine interest in your industry. They are more likely to engage in social media conversations about issues affecting their trade. Compare that to the time it takes to wait for a trade publication to come out – you can have a much faster, more direct conversation on those channels.

The role of reviewers and stakeholders

If your trade PR campaign involves product-led PR, don’t forget the role of reviewers and online influencers in trade media.

In this sector, the digital versions of the trade media aren’t as developed as in some other sectors.

Magazine channels should lead the way in the industry, but often independent platforms and YouTube reviewers are arguably more powerful than traditional mainstream media outlets.

The trade press is really varied, and developing solid relationships with trade journalists is very important.

Map out the key reviewers and influencers in the trades you’re targeting and build relationships with them when developing your trade PR review strategy.

Don’t always lead with the product

While the business may well be product-led, the most effective trade PR may not always be to 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 your trade. By using clever business storytelling, you can help to move your brand away from any outdated images of what industry tradespeople stand for.”

Bear this rule in mind when you’re looking to create owned assets, such as videos and content for your PR activity. Products can date quickly, so aligning your content with your brand values means that the assets you’re investing in will have greater trade media longevity.

Working with stakeholders can be an effective way to do this, too. Look at who supports and champions the trade community you’re targeting, from trade bodies, industry leaders, and supermarket buyers to key decision-makers in charities. Talk to them about what support you can offer them.

Showcasing our trade PR services

We have a proven, award-winning track record of delivering successful PR campaigns for trade clients, merchants, specialist companies and clients who target skilled trades.

Dickies trade PR campaign

AMBITIOUS ran a hugely successful trade PR campaign with global workwear brand Dickies in partnership with SkillBuild, the largest multi-trade competition in the UK for construction industry trainees and apprentices.

The PR campaign included sponsorship of the National Final at WorldSkills UK LIVE 2018, where Dickies provided clothing for contestants and judges, helping to promote the brand among the next generation of tradespeople.

Driving the bottom line

Our PR team specialise in transforming what some may consider ‘dry’ technical features and information into dynamic, compelling PR content that gets results and delivers measurable benefits to businesses.

Read our blog on How to connect with tradespeople on social media for more useful trade PR hints and tips. You can also get in touch with us for more information on our trade PR services and how we can be an extension to your marketing team [email protected].