IIn the early weeks of the semester in my media relations class, I go over the media landscape for students. College students typically are not well aware of the various media outlets or how and why they cover news. This has been especially interesting in this era of media transformation, where legacy media have apps and multiple digital platforms in addition to traditional formats.
One of the things I always tell my students is to consider small, niche outlets, such as suburban weeklies, minority media, bloggers, digital-only outlets, and trade publications. These media outlets may have smaller reach, but they are more likely reach the audience most appropriate for the content a PR professional has to share. If a trade publication, there is an increased likelihood they will be interested in your industry-specific news release or pitch.
So I was interested to see another local example of a former mainstream media reporter striking out on his own to fill a gap with a new series of trade publications. In this case, it's Rob Kirkbride, formerly a business reporter with the furniture industry as part of his beat, launching several new global publications to cover that industry with greater depth.
He recently launched Bellow Press with two partners, a company that produces "Business of Furniture" and "Workplaces" magazine. Shandra Martinez, business reporter at Kirkbride's former employer Mlive (before that the Grand Rapids Press), offers a nice overview of the new venture, including one industry PR pro's positive reaction to the depth of coverage the trade publications will provide.
It has been interesting to watch what happens to former journalists who have left newsrooms across the country as the digital revolution spreads audience, lowers advertising revenue, and thus shrinks the size of newsroom staff. Many have gone into public relations, some taken to freelancing for newly created media outlets, such as Bridge Magazine in Michigan. Some, like Kirkbride, are getting entrepreneurial and finding a niche subject and market for trade publications.
This matters to PR professionals for several reasons. Primarily, as old media decrease and change, we need to be constantly monitoring the media landscape for new ways to reach audiences. Much of what we do now is owned or shared media, but old fashioned earned media also has new opportunities. We need to think not in mass reach to impress clients and bosses with numbers, but focused, targeted and strategic messaging. Trade publications offer this piece of a media mix. PR professionals in a given industry should watch for more emerging publications in their arena to monitor competition, spot and respond to consumer trends, and position their companies as industry leaders to grow and maintain business-to-business as well as consumer relationships.