The news media has had a lot to keep itself up at night lately.
It is bad enough that its base of consumers is being peeled off by internet news sources. Then, the charge that they are peddling “fake news” recently came along.
Though the term is new, the erosion of trust in the media has been happening since the glory days of Woodward and Bernstein. Last year, The Pew Research Center found that very few Americans have a lot of trust in the news media, outdoing fortunately word of mouth. Social media, however, does the worst, but this is cold comfort to the legacy media.
Does B2B Media Have a Trust Problem?
So this situation begs the question for B2B marketers. If many feel this way about the news media, is there a concern that they could judge B2B media in the same light?
My short answer is no. Studies have shown a fairly strong loyalty by the B2B market to trade publications. In a survey conducted by the Association of Business Information and Media Companies (ABM):
“Ninety six percent of all media end users visit B2B websites and read print magazines, and three-quarters use each format at least weekly. The report also found 74 percent of respondents consume both traditional and digital media, rather than choose one over the other, and 61 percent see print magazines either staying constant or growing in importance over the next five years.”
Why is it that consumers trust trade press so much, especially in light of the fact that the companies that advertise in the magazines also submit much of the content? Isn’t that the ultimate conflict of interest?
Editors – The Guardian of Standards
Sandy Smith, Editor in Chief with EHS Today, points out that some trade magazines, “are managed by journalists, who strive to maintain a separation between advertising and editorial, while others serve as a public relations and marketing tool for the industries they serve.”
In either case, the editors I have worked with all strive to make their content maximally informational and minimally promotional. Any PR professional should be aware of this goal, because the content has to be of worth to the reader, or they will not waste their precious time.
Why They Keep Reading?
This is how the trade press proves their worth to the thousands who make up their circulation. If the readers find something of value in the pages and apply it to their tasks at hand, they will keep reading in order to discover more of this kind of content. This, of course, should be how all content should be presented, whether it is in ink or in bytes.
But here is the other advantage of being in the trade press. While blogs or tweets are generally sent out by the individual generating the content, the information that appears in a magazine has to be blessed by a third party gatekeeper – the editor. The reader has a tacit understanding that the material between the covers of a magazine has to be curated by someone not connected with the company that appears in the by-line.
Information is the Goal
This is all about the information search for the B2B market. Sara Spector has been an editor with Modern Material Handling and Material Handling Product News for the past 21 years, and says, “readers use [trade publications] to discover new solutions as well as ideas about ways to solve universal problems.”
In reality, magazines afford the reader the ability to “look over the shoulder” of others at work in their industry. According to Spector, “features about how other companies solved their unique challenges often give a reader a new perspective on their own issues and the potential results they might also achieve.”
Ultimately, the reputation of the magazines is up to all of us in the B2B marketing field. Build informative, helpful, unbiased content and they will read. Coming up will be more tips on how to provide that content.