Over the last few years, the trade media landscape has undergone substantial changes due to digital technology’s vast development, social media and evolving buyer habits. Consequently, a transformation is being witnessed by industry-specific outlets and trade publications with far-reaching consequences for the public relations (PR) industry.

The traditional trade media landscape

In the past, trade media primarily consisted of specialized newspapers, magazines and TV segments that catered to certain industries. These mediums served as a dependable avenue for companies to communicate their updates, advertise goods or services and bolster brand awareness among peers in similar fields. Public relations experts collaborated closely with such outlets by proposing article-worthy content like press releases or authoritative insights so as to obtain publicity coverage.

With the advancement of technology and a shift in buyer behavior (shifting to omnichannel purchasing decisions), there has been a significant transformation within the traditional trade media landscape. The trade media industry is experiencing a noticeable shift towards digital platforms, which are gaining higher visibility. In contrast, traditional print publications are grappling with dwindling readership and struggling to contend with the vast array of online sources providing information. Digital platforms offer superior accessibility, expedited dissemination of news and content, as well as more opportunities for reader engagement.

There continues, however, to be great PR value in the trade media. The 2023 State of Marketing to Engineers Research Report further confirms trade media as a reputable and important source of information with its research findings. Nearly half of engineers questioned stated that they consult trusted industry resources like online trade publications, as their main source of information, when researching a specific product or service.

Evolving journalistic practices and PR efforts

The changing trade media landscape has led to the emergence of new journalistic norms. Today, journalists are required to be proficient multitaskers who can capably handle writing, editing, and promoting on social platforms. We’re witnessing this every day, with editors being equally adept at writing detailed technical editorial, hosting podcasts and capturing video to accompany articles.

For PR experts, establishing connections with reporters goes beyond conventional media relations. Interacting with them on social networks, participating in industry gatherings and partnering for content development can foster valuable relationships that lead to brand or client exposure.

The end of gatekeeping

The emergence of user-generated content has disrupted the traditional trade media scene. In the past, gatekeepers in trade publications controlled what information was conveyed to their audience. But nowadays, industry experts, companies and customers can freely express their views and knowledge on social media platforms and online forums.

It is crucial for PR practitioners to adopt this change by proactively involving themselves in user-generated content, observing conversations, and taking part in appropriate discussions. By understanding the interests, inclinations, and enquiries of their intended audience; public relations experts can adjust their messaging and strategies suitably.


As journalists are evolving to the shifting trends in the media and companies are now looking to reach customers through a variety of strategies and channels; the trade media serves as a vital bridge in this dynamic, multi-channel market. By offering industry-specific insights and connections, the trade media helps businesses navigate complex landscapes and engage with their target audience in a more focused and meaningful way.