Getting Covered On Trade Magazines

Host a paid vacation for trade magazine editors, get favorable coverage in return.

I honestly couldn't make this one up:

Speco did not invent this, but their execution was superb.

At the end of July, Speco hosted a number of trade magazine employees for food, fun and a marketing pitch.

They got dozens of tweets like:


Plus, each magazine wrote a glowing article on Speco. Here are the actual titles:

If you are a manufacturer and are interested in getting covered by a trade magazine, this is your template.

The only decision is whether or not the investment is worth it.

What is the reason for the unapologetic tweeting of the spoils?

The quid pro quo themselves make sense when you consider that regardless of the orginal intent of the publishers, they have essentialy become a defacto advertising co-op for the industry. And they seem to do little to conceal that fact from all but the most casual reader.

On the other palm hand there is a big differemce in my mind between accepting a dinner and then writing a favorable article in return, and openly and actively docu-tweeting the whole exchange. Certainly on the negative side, it will leave a bad taste in some peoples mouth. And though I might fall for a Specious article about some new camera, I don't care whether the writer liked the clams casino the night before, and they must know that.

So in that case, why do they shamelessly promote the payola? Only one rational answer comes to mind: Its a signal to the other manufacturers/advertisers of what their competitors are currently investing, and a subtle warning not to be left behind... Any other theories?

I think it's simpler. They don't have many readers and hardly any readers who really care.

Look at the comments on their sites. It's basically non existent, which is not a sign of an engaged or even significant readership base.

For example, Security Sales has audited traffic of 21,129 visitors and 56,548 page views for July 2014. Factoring in search traffic and visitors from their emails, they have hardly any direct visitors. By contrast, we had 600% more visitors and page views than them for July.

Some trade mags might be better at SEO, but I think the basic issue is that they have few engaged readers.

This is a reason why I avoid submitting articles to any of them. We used to until I realized it had little to no impact. Then I figured out instead of spending time / money on writing such articles, it was far more effective to advertise on social media (e.g., Manufacturers, How LinkedIn Ads Are Working For Us).

Is this Speco's version of a "Corruption Cruise"?

I think we both hold consultants to a higher degree of ethics than trade magazine editors :)

Though, from the manufacturer perspective, the logistics and expected outcomes are similar.

True, but Speco doesn't really aim for the A&E's like Axis, none of them worth their salt would spec Speco systems, regardless of the level of entertainment provided. This is probably as close as they can get to matching Axis. For the target market demographic for Speco, the trade mag editors are by default purchasing recommenders similar to A&E's

It just puzzles me that Speco would be so proud of the event and display the flagrant influence peddling "media summit" for everyone to see on Twitter, or why Ginger Hill would publicly tweet that she is being schmoozed by a manufacturer and crater whatever credibility she has as an unbiased journalist in the security marketplace. It's no wonder why most industry professionals don't take these "trade rags" seriously anymore. Keep up the good work John.

"For the target market demographic for Speco, the trade mag editors are by default purchasing recommenders similar to A&E's"

That's a good point. I am not sure though that trade mags have as much influence as consultants!

As for Ginger, she is going to end up being an excellent manufacturer PR person. In reality that is the desired outcome for many security trade mag editors (e.g., The Best PR Person in the Biz?)

Two points:

Most people who 'read' these rags most likely do not follow their contributors on twitter.

Most of these magazines are essentially free and automatically renewing.

And therefore don't trigger the same critical evaluation and subsequent justification as an IPVM renewal would, for example. People often sign-up for several complimentary subs early in their career before being fully aware of the bias and redundancy of the information. Even when they start to 'get it', they are unlikely to take the time to unsubscribe, since 'its free'.

This softest of soft-sells on the reader side demands an equally vigorous campaign by the sole profit center of the enterprise, namely selling 'customer access' to vendors, whether it be directly thru ads in the rag or indirectly thru customer lists. And nothing helps an ad like a 'independent' third-party's endorsement.

IPVM poll/survey idea:

How many of the following trade publications do you currently receive?

My understanding is that they are not supposed to auto renew. That's why they send out 'urgent' notices about renewing. Otherwise, you can pile up addresses from a decade ago and just blindly send them out.

That said, trade mag print numbers are weirdly unchanging from year to year. For example, SSI's print circulation is 28,000 for each of the last 3 years (Dec 2013, Dec 2012, Dec 2011). [Update: also the same in Dec 2010 and Dec 2009. The last time it changed was Dec 2008, when it was 29,500]

I'd put up a poll, but I am not sure representative the results would be, i.e., either because they pay for an online membership, it might mean they read less or perhaps they read more because they are aggressive for information.

What I'd love is for someone to call integrator's offices and find out what they actually do read on a regular basis (mags, IPVM, etc.). My gut feel is that nothing would win in a landslide.

What I'd love is for someone to call integrator's offices and find out what they actually do read on a regular basis.

We might find out that SSI is the #1 thing reached for; when in the bathroom and right after your portable device goes dead. Which brings up another use... ;)

And another paid trip...