It’s Complicated: The Evolving Relationship between PR and Trade Publications

Posted by: Patrick Kirchner 04/06/2020

In a world increasingly dictated by the influence of big money, we have always relied on one thing to be “unbiased”: the free press.

But as landscapes change and the general public has been more and more reluctant to pay for information media, the content within most home and building products industry periodicals has slowly evolved. So slowly, in fact, that you may not even be aware it has happened.

Today, the industry publications once filled with thought leadership pieces that could stand on the merit of their factuality and credibility alone are becoming less prevalent, unless you are willing to pay for them to be there. And that’s not to point fingers at publishers—the valuable information contained within their pages comes with great costs to produce and disseminate. They have to find a means to pay for it somehow.

But it does raise a critical question: What does it all this mean for PR?


A Moving Target

Truth be told, the transition is still so new that we’re all still figuring out what impact this will have on PR and brand identities alike. On one hand, the business entities that have deep enough coffers for this pay-to-play model stand to benefit greatly—both financially and in terms of efficiency. Instead of delineating PR and advertising efforts, they may now lump it all under a singular advertising budget.

While convenient for some businesses, this model runs the risk of slowly eroding audience trust in both the industry publication and the brands featured within their pages. PR editorial has historically been a significant piece of building brand trust and credibility by calling on experts in their various fields to share valuable insights to publications’ target audiences. This method helped to build customer confidence in businesses providing products and services in various sectors.

With the changing landscape, the line between trade journalism and advertising is becoming a little blurrier.


PR Efforts Beyond the Media

So how will brands stand out as thought leaders now without having ad dollars behind each and every mention of their name? PR professionals are working hard to get thought leadership published, which makes each piece of content exponentially more valuable in this world of paid advertisements.

Editors use press releases as quick hit news to keep content flowing and maintain SEO in a world where fresh and new content is needed for the 24/7 news cycle. However, with the changing business model of publications, editorial requests are increasingly being passed on to a publication’s adverting/sales team before editors can assess them for publication.

This means the PR professional’s job includes finding new ways of building brand trust and credibility both within the pages of magazines and news outlets and outside of them.

Looking to innovative ways of communicating with a brand’s audience includes building relations with influencers—people who work with the brand’s products and services on a regular basis and have a voice with others who do as well. PR professionals will also turn their energies to social media – building an authentic presence with their community of followers and interacting on a one-on-one basis in a timely manner. Sharing thought leadership with those followers and encouraging them to pass along the knowledge.

PR professionals can look at this changing landscape and find new and creative ways to get the word out.


Ready to refine your PR tactics? Fill out an inquiry or contact Dana Gulick: