Case Study: Trade Media Relations

A business unit of a coatings and materials company wanted to position itself as an industry leader and increase visibility for its products, technologies and people. The unit serves several distinct industries, offering product groups used across a wide range of applications from synthetic paper to materials used in electronics. Because of its diverse portfolio and small marketing budget, the unit was not previously engaging in any unified media relations activities. 

After a new leader joined the team, the team received the support it needed to invest in trade media and public relations to elevate its reputation and capitalize on valuable messaging opportunities including innovation, sustainability and women in leadership. The leader of the business’ strategic marketing brought in Kirkpatrick Group to develop and implement a trade media visibility strategy.

Kirkpatrick Group used a five-step process to draft messaging, secure media opportunities, and build media relationships for the business unit:

  1. Discovery and analysis
  2. Development and approval of strategic approach
  3. Development and approval of a detailed plan and timeline
  4. Ongoing execution and overcoming challenges
  5. Monitoring, tracking and maximizing

Step 1: Discovery and Analysis

Kirkpatrick Group spoke to leaders in each business area to identify messaging ideas and potential media angles. The team conducted in-depth media mining interviews and performed content analysis for each product line in order to align the media relations efforts with the business’ overall strategic goals. Media lists and opportunity grids were developed for all verticals.  

Step 2: Strategic Development 

The team used the information gathered from the interviews and media analysis to design a comprehensive external visibility strategy for the next eight months. The approach involved leveraging earned trade media coverage to connect with key stakeholders, with an objective of six feature placements. Kirkpatrick Group would build relationships with trade editors and reporters with targeted pitching and messaging related to several key topics:

  • Product application and innovation
  • Sustainability thought leadership
  • Women in leadership  

Step 3: Detailed Plan and Timeline

The detailed media outreach plan included an editorial calendar, press materials, media outreach tools, media refresher sessions for leadership and copy development. A content calendar was created for the business unit’s leader featuring LinkedIn posts and thought leadership pieces to boost her engagement rate and increase her visibility in the industry, along with events and speaking opportunities tailored to her areas of expertise. In addition to byline opportunities, the plan included strategies to support the opening of a new facility, a new product launch and new industry data and research findings. 

Step 4: Ongoing Execution and Overcoming Challenges 

After the initial research and strategy development phases, media outreach began. Through consistent and targeted pitching, placements were secured quickly with 12 feature articles published within three months. With increasing interest and opportunity, Kirkpatrick Group coordinated with various experts across the business unit to collect information for Q&A and byline articles. The team also worked with leadership to create a streamlined approval process for the diverse content being produced. 

Step 5: Monitoring, Tracking and Relationship Building

Over the course of nine months, feature placements exceeded the project’s initial objective by over 600%. The earned media coverage totaled:

  • 33 articles in 22 publications
  • 69.8 million impressions
  • 177% return on spend based on advertising equivalency

Social media metrics showed that the leader’s LinkedIn followers grew by 11% over eight months with an engagement rate of 9%, significantly higher than the industry average of 2% engagement. Her consistent posts on LinkedIn and increased media presence led to inquiries and product sales according to the company’s sales tracking data. 

The client was very pleased with the outcomes of the trade media campaign and extended their contract with Kirkpatrick Group to continue efforts into the following year. “[Company] is very happy with the successful results of Kirkpatrick Group’s trade media outreach strategy. Our team can feel the effects of the earned media placements through the inquiries they have received from existing and potential customers. The comprehensive approach to increasing visibility internally and externally has also helped increase engagement among employees in our business unit and raised the unit’s visibility with other [Company] employees as well,” said the strategic marketing leader. “The team is the perfect combination of strategy, ingenuity and tactical execution. They’re an absolute joy to work with, and their results speak for themselves.” 


The client’s recognition that a unified external communications strategy would benefit the business unit led to heightened brand awareness, leadership recognition and lead generation. Their responsiveness and collaborative approach led to a successful trade media campaign that connected with their target audiences. Kirkpatrick Group’s guidance helped the business unit leverage their product knowledge and expertise to develop effective content and build valuable industry relationships that will continue to enhance their brand reputation in the future.