Tell us if this sounds familiar to you: your tech product or service is one of the best offerings in your segment and the work you do for your clients has proven to be highly valuable and effective—yet, you are struggling to stand out among your competitors. One morning you’re going through the newsletters in your inbox, or perusing the industry magazines that come into your office, and there it is—your competitors getting flashy mentions in what appears to be a top-tier trade outlet.
It can be deflating, infuriating, and confusing to see the competition getting accolades in what appear to be industry-leading magazines. Look a little bit closer, though, and you might find that your competitors were actually duped into a dodgy pay-for-play media buy.
There’s no shortage of legitimate trade magazines, and they’re a valuable place to inform the public about a new product or trend in your industry, but unfortunately there’s also no shortage of shady organizations mimicking them. While taking the earned media approach to legitimate trades provides value to your company, there are other publications that can turn a relationship into a frustrating, expensive, and embarrassing exercise.
So how do you know if you should covet that placement or move on to the next outlet? The key is in the coverage. At the end of the day, your customers are going to read the content that offer them the most value. If you regularly read a certain magazine and find that its content is genuinely informative and insightful for business, chances are your customers do too.
On the other hand, if you find yourself looking at the cover of an unfamiliar magazine, take a critical approach to evaluating the placement. Over time, you’ll be able to spot the red flags of a pure pay-for-play operation:
- How long has the trade been publishing? Often times, publishers that are just out to make a quick buck will shut their so-called “outlet” down once readers get suspicious about its content. Then they boot up a similar outlet with a different name and style, and start the cycle over again.
- Are the story authors consistent? A considerable number of trades invite guest authors to share their opinions, but a quality trade publication will have dedicated authors and editorial staff ensuring the quality and neutrality of the content. If you never see the same author twice from issue to issue or newsletter to newsletter, chances are the outlet is running exclusively on paid content. Readers will quickly catch onto this and stop coming back for more.
- Do all of the stories focus on a particular company? While a brand looks great when it gets featured, the majority of coverage in quality trades will attempt to take a broader, industry-wide view of the issue at hand. If readers notice that content focuses too much on a vendor or solution, they’ll turn away. If you engaged that outlet in hopes they would feature your brand, chances are your customers will have already gone elsewhere. Even worse, they may perceive your brand as being less than genuine.
One of the most important aspects of PR is making sure that your messaging reaches the audience that is going to have the biggest impact on your business. If you’re impressed by a new outlet you’ve never heard of and are unsure if it’s an opportunity worth pursuing, you can always ask your public relations team at Tech Image to evaluate the opportunity to see if it’s worth your time.