When you create your next publicity campaign, don’t forget about all the ways you can use trade associations—yours and others—as a valuable marketing tool.
My friend reminded me of this last week when she needed to find independent doctors in two states with whom she wanted to partner. “Call the state’s trade association and ask for help,” I said. Sure enough, she found one.
That got me thinking of the many ways you can use these trade groups to promote your own product, service, cause or issue. I’ve used many of the tips below with great success.
1. Let the PR department of your own trade associations know you welcome calls from the media.
This is often the first place journalists go when they need sources to interview, particularly when they’re on deadline.
2. Offer a free article in a trade association’s newsletter or magazine if you want to nail a speaking engagement with that same group.
Months later, when you contact the meeting planner, you can refer to the articles you’ve written–proof that you’re not a novice to the industry. I’ve written many articles for the Society for Marketing Professional Services magazine and PR Tactics, published by the Public Relations Society of America. Both have led to numerous speaking engagements.
3. Offer to write a guest post for the association’s blog.
Read the blog first. You can see examples of effective pitches and pitching tips in “Personal details in your pitch are your ticket to publicity” and “How to pitch a guest blog post for The Publicity Hound’s blog.” You can also learn how a guest blogger pitched me and made me say yes.
4. If you’re promoting a cause or issue, contact trade groups that support your position.
Being able to attach their name to your cause can boost your credibility. Trade groups are among the most ardent lobbyists.
5. Writing an article and need statistics you can’t find in a Google search? Call a trade association.
Sure, you can visit their website. But one phone call to their PR department could save you a lot of time.
6. Offer to donate free products to associations whose members are your target market.
The groups can use them as door prizes at events or as contest prizes. Don’t have physical products? How about one hour of consulting?
7. Call your Convention & Visitors Bureau and find out which trade groups will be having conventions in your town.
Call the associations’ meeting planners and ask to speak for free or for a fee. Make sure your topic is a perfect match for their audience.
8. If you’ve already spoken to a trade association, follow up a few months later and offer to do a free “Lunch and Learn” with members, via Facebook Live or Skype.
The association might have its own technology for remote meetings. You can also offer to do a simple teleseminar.
9. Take a leadership role in your own trade association.
Start with your local chapter. This will give you greater access to influencers at the national level. When I was president of the Wisconsin chapter of the National Speakers Association, I ate dinner with big-name speakers the night before they would present a half-day program at our monthly meeting. This can be particularly helpful if you want to get in front of a target market where the influencer already is well-known.
One caution: Don’t allow yourself to get sucked into spending more time than you can afford on volunteer work.
10. If you don’t want a leadership position in your trade group, volunteer your services.
Some of our members in the Wisconsin speakers association volunteer to drive out-of-towners who would be speaking at our monthly meetings to and from the airport. It’s a fabulous opportunity to get to know them better.
11. Connect with trade associations in your target market on social media.
Do they have a Facebook page? An open group on LinkedIn? Answer questions members are asking.
12. Does a trade association whose members are in your target market have a video library at its website?
If so, can you offer a short how-to video, or a series, for free?
You don’t have to do all of these. Start by choosing the three you think will be most effective for your business.
Have you used trade associations–your own or those in other industries—for publicity? Share in the comments below.
More trade show resources to help you:
Watch the recent interview I did with TradeshowGuy Jim Patterson on what to do before, during and after trade shows to get publicity:
Also see Muck Rack’s article “Are Trade Shows a Waste of Time for PR Prospecting?”