Editor’s note: Lucy Davison is managing director at Keen as Mustard, a London marketing agency. She can be reached at lucy@mustardmarketing.com.

Every industry and market has a trade media. These publications hold a mirror up to the industries they cover – the good, the bad and the downright ugly. But I have lost count of the times our PR clients have dismissed their trade media as unworthy of attention or effort. They always direct us to aim for bigger prizes – coverage in national or international business media – but this is shortsighted and can be damaging.

Why? Trade journalists are the conduit to the bigger prizes. They have a great deal of influence with other media, who will come to them for stories and to find out what and who is important in their industry. A lot of senior journalists start out working for trade publications; get in with the right reporter now and you can find your stories covered much more widely in future.

Within the research industry at least, the trade media is read by research clients and therefore is a direct route to profile-raising and winning new business. And the trade media gives you access to the zeitgeist – even if you disagree with it you cannot afford to ignore it!

So, looking after the trade media is the first rule of B2B media relations. For these journalists, it is important to build and nurture good, ongoing relationships. To do this, you need an idea of what these journalists want and how to keep them happy. Here are a few pointers to help researchers garner the favor of the trade media.

1. Understand what a journalist’s life is like.

In a world of online news, most trade journalists face daily deadlines, write thousands of words of copy in a very short amount of time and make snap decisions about stories, images, quotes and headlines. It goes without saying that you have to be really fast and responsive to build a good relationship and keep them happy. Don’t waste time. If you need to buy yourself some extra thinking time, then call them back in 10 minutes – not two hours.

2. Keep it simple.

You must provide clear, straightforward information, avoid jargon and keep it simple. Think about the two or three key points you want to convey. Provide short sound bites/quotes. Offer exclusives – trade journalists won’t run a story that has already appeared in the national press but the nationals will run something even if it has appeared in trade media.

3. Do your homework.

Make sure you have read the latest issues of the publication you are talking to. You will look very stupid bringing up something as “new” if they covered it last week. Don’t forget why you are talking to the press. There’s no point doing an interview if there is nothing in it for you so consider this first.

4. Build relationships.

Don’t wait for a big story to break before you make initial contact with your key publications. Find out who is covering your sector or topic and target them. Break the ice and establish an ongoing relationship. If journalists have a good, longstanding relationship with someone, they will turn to them for opinions and quotes and in turn will be more likely to listen if you approach them with a story.

5. Sugar the pill.

Make your good news interesting. You only get one shot at telling your story so tell it well. A headline on a press release that reads “Local furniture store creates 50 new jobs” is more likely to get attention than “Local furniture store opens new branch.” Think about how to position your news to your advantage.

6. Don’t waste time writing features.

If you have an idea or a piece of research that you think a journalist will be interested in, write a synopsis. It should be concise, contain all the key facts and definitely not be a sales document. Never write an article and then e-mail it over expecting a magazine to publish it. They won’t, unless you pay for advertorial. If you send a synopsis, the journalist can then decide if or how they want to use it, where it might go, who else they might talk to and if you or someone else should write it.

7. Respect the role of the press release.

A press release is used to communicate news. Is your news really news? Think about this from the journalist’s perspective first. A press release is not a sales document; it is a useful tool for journalists. It should include: a headline that grabs attention; the key facts (what, where, why, how and when); and a strong quote that sounds like a real person speaking, not like it was lifted from a business management book. It should be a page-and-a-half of text at most. Avoid jargon and write clearly – if you read it aloud to your mother/daughter/barista, would they understand it? If your press release doesn’t have a good title, it will not be read. Except in rare circumstances, do not expect your press release to be published. A decent publication will take excerpts or rewrite it including their own comment and references.

8. Avoid wire services and never spam the media.

Journalists don’t read the commercial wire services like Marketwire and PRWeb so don’t waste your money. These services pay subscriptions to online publications to reproduce your press release. If you see coverage on a site that is a reproduction of a press release, this has been sponsored. It is not true coverage; it will not be read by journalists; and it will not improve your search rankings. Genuine news agencies (e.g., Press Association, Thomson Reuters, United Press International, etc.) should be handled in the same fashion as the national media.

Tailored relationships

Following these eight guidelines will help you create tailored relationships with journalists in your industry. But if you only take away one key point from this list, let it be this: Treat them with respect.