PR Training

3 Media Relations Tips for When Top-Tier Publications Seem Out of Reach

You’ve most likely experienced something similar to the following scenario: You’re with a new client in an initial onboarding session, and you’ve come prepared to talk about expectations and planning. Seconds into the conversation, you hear the following dreaded question: “When can we anticipate a piece in The New York Times?”

Whether the pressure is coming directly from your client or from your client’s boss, the sad truth remains: Company leaders are blinded by readership numbers when they should be thinking about their particular audience.

How do you steer your client in another direction, one with more influence and more impactful reach? Below are alternatives to suggest when your client is hung up on high-visibility outlets of little consequence.

1. Consider trade outlets over top-tier publications.

With publications like The New York Times, you have the potential to reach an audience numbering in the millions, which is precisely the problem. The vast audience consists of anyone and everyone, rather than a specific target, and overall readership numbers don’t necessarily indicate the number of people who will read your particular article.

Trade media, on the other hand, is targeted to a specific industry, profession, trade or business. While readership numbers are lower than that of top-tier publications, trade outlets are a trusted source of information, and 100 percent of the content directly pertains to a particular industry. Although a trade outlet may have a readership of only 10,000, you can guarantee your client that every one of those people are member of their key audience. An added bonus for you: Trade outlets aren’t inundated with pitches like their high-visibility counterparts, so it’s easier to get your pitch in front of the right eyes.

Here are three tips to convince your client that a piece will be more impactful in a trade publication than in a top-tier outlet:

  • Show them the numbers. As a business-minded professional, your client probably cares about numbers. (This is likely why they requested a top-tier publication in the first place.) Go ahead and get this piece out of the way right off the bat; tell your client how many readers or unique monthly visitors your intended trade publication receives.
  • Talk about the outlet’s audience. Now that you’ve brought up numbers, your client is likely thinking, “Seriously? Twenty-thousand measly visitors?” This is when it’s important to talk about the niche audience of the trade outlet. Explain to your client that with a major national outlet, you may get your message out to 20 million people who aren’t particularly interested in the brand or product, but with a trade outlet, your client’s message will reach 20,000 readers who are passionate, motivated and more likely to take action after reading.
  • Mention depth of content. Because trade media editors and journalists are typically subject-matter experts in their respective fields, articles tend to go into deeper detail than those in larger publications. Explain this to your client and show examples of past work to support your point.

2. Embrace the niche appeal of podcasts.

Similar to trade journals, podcasts cover an array of niche subjects. There are podcasts for pen collectors, hula hoop enthusiasts and Taylor Swift groupies. There’s even a football podcast for people who don’t like football. It is estimated that 24 percent of Americans listen to podcasts on a monthly basis.

Trying to sell your client on the value of podcasts? Here are some strong points to support your conversation:

  • There’s ample airtime. While local broadcast TV segments typically last one to three minutes and reach an audience in the low thousands, podcast interviews last between 15 and 60 minutes and give your client an opportunity to tell his or her story to an engaged, knowledgeable and passionate audience.
  • Podcasts offer many opportunities to amplify coverage. After airing, podcasts can be easily repurposed and promoted in a variety of ways. You can share whole episodes to social media, clip individual soundbites and create images of quotes. The unique audio format of podcasts provides opportunities to creatively reuse content in ways you couldn’t do with written articles.
  • You’d be targeting the right listeners. Some podcast audiences are even larger than local broadcast markets. Even better, audiences are typically more targeted and engaged than in television and radio markets. Podcast fans are eager and interested in the type of content your client delivers.

3. Don’t overlook blogs.

Blogs are another often overlooked form of media, but they shouldn’t be; they offer a great content channel for featuring longer articles in nontraditional formats. In the past, blogs were brushed off as less important than traditional media, but this outlet can no longer be ignored by PR professionals or their clients. Several outlets that once began as blogs like Engadget and Mashable, now receive millions of unique visitors per month.

Is your client still hesitant to embrace blogs? Try selling them on some of the following benefits:

  • The format is easy to work with. Blogs tend to be a bit more informal than traditional media outlets, which make them a great place to share opinions, insights and other commentary. Additionally, the long-form format of blogs makes them a good channel for incorporating photos and other multimedia into posts.
  • Posting is instantaneous. Blogs often have a shorter publication cycle than traditional media outlets, and as a result are quicker to publish content. Where traditional outlets can take weeks and sometimes months to publish an article, blogs are able to get posts up within days or even hours.
  • Blogs are easy to share. Blog posts are highly shareable. An added bonus for the SEO team: Most blogs allow guests and contributors to include backlinks throughout their content.


The next time your client goes straight for the shiny object, have a strategic discussion about the content medium that will really move the bottom line. It’s time to look beyond high-visibility outlets. In today’s media world, chances are there’s an outlet targeting the exact audience you’re trying to reach. In many cases, that outlet is not The New York Times.

Doreen Clark, MBA, is a director of public relations for SmartBug Media, helping companies increase visibility, boost credibility and promote their thought leadership. Connect with her on LinkedIn at


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