Cranes Today, Modern Ferret, Potato Storage International – don’t you – and the panellists on the BBC’s Have I Got News For You – just love trade magazines?!
Although we might smirk at the titles, such publications can be extremely useful for raising the profile of a business in their sector.
But they can also prove highly damaging by…. well, raising the profile of a business in their sector.
As we tell delegates on our media training courses, never underestimate the power of a trade magazine, no matter how niche the title.
Interviewees can easily make the mistake of saying more than they should, simply because they believe few people read such publications, even fewer take any notice of them and anyway, they’re only read by those already in their industry, right?
Just this week one head of corporate communications discovered how saying something extremely frank to an industry magazine can cost you your job.
According to PR Week, Daniel Abbou, the recently appointed press spokesman for Berlin Brandenburg Airport, was interviewed by Germany’s PR Magazin. He was asked if the new deadline for completing a major building project would be met.
Apparently he told the magazine: “Believe me, no politician, no airport director, and no one who isn’t dependent on medication, will give you any firm guarantees for this airport… They used to say mostly, no, everything will be fine. That’s bullshit. Admit it when something has screwed up. It’ll all come out anyway.”
And he didn’t stop there, but you get the point.
Abbou and his employers have since parted company.
Who knows why he used such colourful language – and some commentators have applauded it – but what’s clear is the original story and subsequent split went way beyond the usual reach of PR Magazin. They were picked up by national newspapers and Herr Abbou’s remarks have “gone global”.
His bosses might have employed him to garner publicity…but I doubt that’s what they had in mind.
If you’re interviewed by a trade magazine, it’s really important you remember just what a great source of stories for national newspapers they can be.
When I worked on the Daily Express, The Grocer was required reading for the retail correspondent and the Times Educational Supplement would be scoured by the education correspondent.
As health editor, I would take a very close look at the Nursing Times and GP. When I oversaw the travel section, woe betide me if I didn’t peruse Travel Trade Gazette.
And it can work the other way: journalists often start their careers on trade or B2B titles, where they’re cheap to employ and eager to learn. But if they decide not to spend their entire careers on Poultry World or Drain Trader, how do they move on to the Daily Telegraph or The Guardian? Not by sending in their CVs, but possibly by tipping off those ’papers’ news desks that they gleaned something in an interview that is worthy of national attention. Do that a few times and they might well have their “foot in the door”. Farewell Fish Friers Review, hello Huffington Post…
So here’s the bottom line:
Never say anything to any journalist, no matter how niche the title, that you wouldn’t want to see on the front page of a national newspaper the next morning…
…unless you want to fly by the seat of your pants.