The value of trade media versus national business media

Both have value — but in different ways.

Trade media versus news media

Erin Dolin is VP at The Fletcher Group.

Earning media coverage continues to be one of the most powerful ways to raise awareness for your brand. The third-party credentialing gained by earning a media placement in a key outlet can drive awareness and preference and give you a meaningful piece of content to amplify further via your own channels.

While the value of media coverage is often inherent, a secondary discussion we have with many of our clients is: Which type of media should we spend our time pursuing? For B2B brands, there are usually many trade media outlets that cover their specific industries in intimate detail. (i.e. for the payments industry, Retail Dive for the retail space, American Banker for banking, etc.) But also of interest to many B2B brands is what we call national business media. This includes outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CNBC, Forbes, and Business Insider. These outlets cover business more broadly and don’t focus on a particular industry like trade media do.



There are key considerations to take when pursuing either type of media, as well as expectations for what each will drive for your brand. Below, we explore both:

What to expect with trade media:

Trade media covers one industry and one alone. So, you can expect trade media to be much more thorough in its coverage of industry issues and your news announcements. Trade media is where you’ll have the opportunity to deeply explain your service offerings, competitive differentiators, new partnerships, etc.

Trade media coverage is also faster to earn because of these journalists’ familiarity with your industry and what you’re selling. Even if they don’t know your brand yet, they likely know of your competitors or the market demand that your business meets. Trade journalists are also likely to show up at the same industry events your team attends – whether annual conferences or awards shows.

Trade media often gets a bad rep because circulation numbers are smaller than national media outlets. However, don’t conflate a smaller readership with a smaller impact. With trade media, you can trust that you’re speaking directly to your industry or a particular prospect industry you’re targeting. So, while the readers are fewer, they are more relevant to your business objectives. And because trade media will more thoroughly cover your news, you can expect this media segment to be the best avenue for speaking directly to your prospects.

To oversimplify, we like to say that trade media is the ideal target for driving pipeline.

What to expect with national business media:

National business press covers the national – and oftentimes global – business landscape. This means they are covering the public markets, identifying trends cutting across industries, and focusing on the global and household-name brands that all their readers will know. This also means that often, these journalists do not have a deep familiarity with many B2B brands.

National business press is harder to earn because many B2B businesses don’t have their attention to begin with like they do to a greater extent with trade media. These reporters cover high-level trends and topics and seldom have the time or interest to deeply explore a more niche industry, unless it is one that is exploding with innovation or demand, i.e. crypto or AI.

For this reason, we never expect national media to show interest in covering B2B news like partner announcements or new hires. Even product announcements are a hard sell unless they represent a true groundbreaking promise for the business community at large. Instead, we must approach this media differently. We can supply help for the trend stories they’re compiling – offering thought leadership on the bigger business topics they care about. This could be in the form of original research or just key insights from your leaders. But have the expectation that to make it into national business press, it will be for talking about what you know versus what you sell. Also, keep in mind that this coverage will likely reach a large swath of readers that are of no strategic importance to you because they are in totally unrelated industries.

Despite the difficulty of earning national business coverage, the appeal is evident. National brands are the media names that everyone knows, regardless of the industry they work in.

For this reason, we like to say that national business media is for driving prestige.

Finding the right balance

The key is to create a balanced media relations strategy by aligning media coverage goals with your business objectives. Is the focus on supporting your sales department with meaningful, detailed coverage that will help nurture leads? Trade coverage is the ticket. Are you on the verge of going public or selling and need some top-tier visibility to wow potential investors? National business media should be the priority. There may be many different combinations of goals at play for your business, and you need to be able to pick your priorities and map out how you’ll realistically achieve them. In many cases, we often suggest ways to strategically leverage both national business press and industry trade media for maximum impact.

The media landscape continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Inserting complex B2B storylines into the news is not an easy task. But media coverage remains one of the most powerful endorsements for your business. As your B2B brand endeavors to earn media coverage, be sure you’re carefully considering the pros and cons of approaching both trade and national business media. Each comes with its own benefits and considerations for pitching. This is a key element to discuss as you build out a comprehensive media relations strategy.


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