What is a trade publication?

Trade publications are articles that are published within a certain industry. The goal of these articles is to keep members of the industry up to date about the newest practices, methods, technology and other relevant pieces of information. In this sense, their goal is similar to that of science and academic journals. Trade publications tend to also include industry-focused advertising and sometimes also include industry job postings. They are sometimes referred to as trade papers or trade journals.

How a trade publication works

  1. It's informative

    The main purpose of a trade publication is to keep members of an industry up to date with the newest information. They are trusted, certified sources of information. Trade publications circulate this information in print, online and through other circulation methods. An effective trade publication must have information members of the industry aren’t getting elsewhere and must feel essential to keeping up with the latest developments within an industry.

  2. It's collaborative

    An effective trade journal takes content from different factions of an industry. To do this effective, a publication must compile articles focusing on a variety of subjects, from overarching industry news to niche articles about a device breakthrough, for example. This keeps a trade publication relevant to all readers within the industry.

  3. There’s a funding model

    Trade journals aren’t always funded the same way, but a successful trade publication must have a model for funding. Some trade publications are run based off the money generated from industry-focused advertising. Others are subscription based. Many use a subscription model called controlled circulation. In this business model, subscription is free but restricted. The recipients must have a track record of producing leads, or consumer interest.

Why trade publications matter

  1. It’s important to the industry as a whole

    A trade publication is essential to keeping an industry moving and advancing. These publications give members of the industry information and push them to innovate and create. It offers members of the industry resources, from the opportunity to form relationships with other companies, to a platform for targeted advertising and hiring opportunities.

  2. It’s important to individual businesses

    Trade publications are essential to individual businesses in a number of ways. For a small business, they are a foot in the door, to learn the status of the industry, to learn about competition and to understand the industry they are about to do business within. It’s also a chance for a business to form strategic alliances with other members of the industry. It can also be a resource for businesses looking to hire.

  3. It’s important to marketing and public relations

    Outside of the industry members, trade publications can be a powerful tool for marketing and PR firms. Trade publications offer a platform that is already targeted to a specific audience. Sharing information on these platforms can be much more influential than on a general platform; the audience is already targeted and the journal already has a level of trust from its consumers.