New survey reveals the best ways to connect

Press releases and direct network contact remain the top sources for trade journalists, but digitalisation is impacting story selection, says the EMG Editors Survey.

Trade industry editors have an essential role to play in the industrial technology community. Their knowledge and influence offer unique insights into what works and what doesn’t in marketing communications.

Reliability and exclusivity are key of course. Great editors pride themselves on accurately interviewing, synthesising, ranking, and communicating. But they also recognise the challenges they face as the lines between editorial and advertising continue to blur. At the same time, they face growing competition from social networks and influencers.

Despite these new threats to traditional media, the value of successfully communicating to trade industry editors remains clear. Reaching them will help to tell your company’s story, underpin your positioning and reinforce your leadership role. Good working relationships with editors can help you score future coverage and give you an additional ear to the ground within your industry. So how should you be reaching them, and which new communication channels should you be using?

A key step is understanding what trade editors want and need in the first place. For example, how do they like to receive their content? How are they judging the success of what they feature?

EMG set out to answer these questions with its latest Trade Editors Survey. The online survey gathered the opinions of 125 prominent editors in materials, automation, lighting, and other sectors. It’s all about gaining a deeper understanding of what’s happening in the media landscape where our clients operate.

The fundamentals remain key

So, what did we learn? Well, the key overarching conclusion was that press releases and direct network contact remain the top sources for trade journalists. In fact, two-thirds of respondents say that most or all of the PRs they receive are relevant to their work. When it comes to news sources, press releases ranked first for 50% of editors, and second for 29%. At the same time, direct contact topped the list for 42% of editors, and was second for 27%.

While these insights are not surprising, they are telling. After all, a publication’s integrity rests on its accuracy, so the priority remains getting great information directly from the source. For example, editors should never avoid blindly follow a social media post, without qualifying it with a phone call or email. This also reinforces the need to thoroughly vet influencers such as company spokespersons, speakers and industry experts, before proposing them. It’s all about ensuring that you have high level, reliable sources available.

Another conclusion from the survey was that visuals are essential to press release success. In fact, 84% of respondents ranked good-quality visuals as the most useful attachment to a release. Editors want great photos, but infographics, videos, and in-depth background files are also useful. It’s about offering a choice of visuals to illustrate your message and increase your chances of getting the coverage you want.

The growing role for digital tools

We all know that the communications world is changing. With this background, editors are carefully using digitalisation in their editorial sourcing and story selection. Almost 73% of respondents said that they share or link to stories published on their publication’s website, with over 58% browsing through their feed to stay current. It’s all about promoting their own stories and liking and commenting on what catches their eye, just as they would in their personal social media feed. At the same time, editors are using digital tools to identify what’s working and what’s not, with social media algorithms holding importance for over 70% of respondents. The study also finds that 62% of trade editors use engagement data to evaluate stories. This means that if an article performs well, future content pieces can build on that success.

Finally, when asked about new content technologies being used within their organization, most editors mentioned digital publications (86%) and social media (73%). Far less important for them were the personalization of news, automation, and artificial intelligence. Interestingly, most editors did not expect these technologies to form a threat to trade media. Instead they could be further tools to help them get their message out.

Avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy

The survey results reveal that marketers should avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy when it comes to media outreach. New channels and tools are being taken on board by editors, but traditional press releases and direct contact remain key.

A great communicator succeeds in reaching editors with compelling content that delivers on meaning, relevancy and timeliness. At EMG, we’ve been consistently building content based on the kind of stories that publishers – and their readers – want, for over 30 years.

Our close connection with editors and experience across multiple communication channels continues to help our clients get their stories out there. When we can help deliver what editors want, we can help our clients achieve what they want in greater exposure and business and value creation.  


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To discover what editors want, please check-out the full report