24 min read

Media Miniseries | Engaging Technical Editors with Gary Lerude

In the Content Marketing, Engineered Media Miniseries, where we’re learning from media experts about how working with external news outlets and trade publications fits into your content marketing strategy. In today’s episode, we cover working with technical B2B trade publications from an editorial perspective. 


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Content marketing typically involves writing and publishing content on your own site, and attracting visitors to that content. But -- external channels can still be extremely helpful to broaden your potential audience. By securing content in trade publications, companies can catch the attention of new prospects and draw them back to the company's website.

There are dozens of reputable B2C technical publications but a few rise to the top. Microwave Journal is one of those few. Today, Microwave Journal editor Gary Lerude will talk to us about how you can use trade publications to share your news, grow your audience, and build your brand. This content is particularly relevant with the recent advancements in 5G mmwave -- Gary notes that while there are a handful of significant test and measurement providers who have relationships with editors, industries like communications and medical are full of smaller companies and startups with niche technologies who can benefit from the brand awareness that comes with editorial coverage.

On this episode you'll hear details of exactly how and when to engage with technical editors as well as what editors are looking for, what's helpful to them, and what to expect to have prepared when you reach out. 

 

Resources

 

Transcript

The following transcript was created by an AI Bot which has yet to learn slang words and decipher Wendy's Texas accent. While it is no substitute for watching/listening to the episode, transcripts are handy for a quick scan. Enjoy!

How do you use the news as a media channel to take your product or service to the masses? And how do you make the challenges you're addressing for your clients newsworthy for a larger audience? And lastly, how in the world do you cut through all of the clutter in an editor's inbox to pitch your ideas? We're covering all these topics today. Welcome to the Content Marketing, Engineered Media Miniseries, where we're learning from media experts about how working with external news outlets and trade publications fits into your overall content marketing strategy.

In today's episode, we'll cover B2B technical publications from an editorial perspective. We talk about how to connect with editors, how to contribute to publications, and how to showcase your products or services in a way that's compelling to journalists and their audiences. I love that in this episode, Gary even gives you direct permission to pitch in your ideas, and he gives you the contact information you need to get in touch with them. Listen for that. Near the end, let's jump right in.

Welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. Your source for building trust and generating demand with technical content.

Hi and welcome to Content Marketing, Engineered. As you may have noticed, I'm not Wendy Covey. I'm Morgan Norris, a senior brand and content strategist, and I'm hosting this media miniseries for Wendy to take a deep dive into technical B2B media, from editorial to advertising to trade publications, we're going to figure out when and how to pursue media opportunities to build your brand, gain that leadership, engage with the technical community and promote your products and services. I hope you leave each episode of this mini series ready to take action before we begin.

I'd like to give a brief shout out to our agency, TREW Marketing. TREW is a full service agency located in Austin, Texas, serving highly technical companies. For more information about TREW, you can visit trewmarketing.com. All right on with the podcast. Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of Content Marketing, Engineered. I'm joined by Gary Lerude, the technical editor of Microwave Journal, which is a leading source for information about RF and microwave technology. It's a publication I'm sure many of you are familiar with. And one thing I love about Gary, and I'm sure it makes him excellent at his job is that his background is in engineering.

So he spent almost two decades at Texas Instruments, comes with just a deep understanding of the technology and then adds the communication part. On top of that, the welcome.

Gary, thank you so much. I'm looking forward to talking with you.

Great. Okay. So I wanted to start with I want you to just tell me a little bit about yourself, and I would love for you to walk through what a week kind of in your work life is what that looks like.

All right. So I'll start with my background. As you noted, I came through the technical ranks. I got degrees in engineering, electrical engineering, and then went to work for Texas Instruments almost for 20 years. I also worked at a couple of other iconic companies, Maycom and TriQuint before about seven years ago having the opportunity to join Microwave Journal.

Excellent.

Always been interested in writing. And so when the editorial role opened up at Microwave Journal, it seemed like a great fit and a good time in my career to make the move, talking a little bit about Microwave Journal for those that may not be familiar with it as much as I am obviously day to day. We are a monthly publication. We publish obviously twelve issues a year with three supplements aligned with certain months. We are the longest running business to business publication first issue published in 1958.

So that's quite an accomplishment. We kind of blend between AAA publications, which tend to be more theoretical and very practical hands on publication, which is where we find our niche. So in addition to the magazine, we have a very strong online presence. All of the content also goes online, but we do unique content for online as well. And then we have a variety of, if you will, media channels, we do video, we do podcasts, we do Webinars. And so depending upon the companies we're working with and what their marketing strategies are, we can offer a blend of editorial which does not cost anything and promotion.

That, of course, would be paid. So you asked about my week. It's probably easier to describe it in terms of a month because it's cyclic timed to the monthly issues. So there is the part of the month where I'm editing articles with my colleagues. We're getting them submitted into our production folks. We take pride in the way we do our graphics and also the editing that we can provide to kind of tighten the text, and we try to read it for content as well, given the Editors are all technical.

So if something's not quite clear, we can help clarify it, go back to the author if necessary. So part of the month is spent preparing those articles. They go into production. And then actually, the point I'm in right now is we're starting to send proofs out to the authors for them to check before we publish the issue. So we send those out. In the meantime, of course, there's a constant activity with online. We have social media presence. I try to focus on relevant news that I think would be of interest to our readers.

And so I try to post news items several a day, both to LinkedIn and Twitter. And then we're also doing as part of my work kind of the far. Look, we tend to work three, six, even twelve months in some cases in advance. So when we see something, we're reaching out to a company or an author to see if they would be willing to write an article for the magazine. Since our technical articles are largely sourced by the companies or authors themselves, and we occasionally will do compendium articles where we'll pull stuff together.

We'll do surveys that we write ourselves, but most of the content is from companies, and a fair amount comes in unsolicited, particularly from universities. So a fair part of my month is spent with my colleagues reviewing those articles, seeing if we think they fit our wheelhouse, if you will. And if not, we'll go back to the authors and either say no, this is outside of what we would publish or give them some guidance. If maybe if they can make some updates, we will publish the article in the future.

Sure, that's a mouthful.

Yeah. As far as sourcing that type of information when people are submitting content like that, what is it to you that makes it relevant or readable or just an appealing piece that you would continue to pursue, even if it's not perfect when you get it. But what are the characteristics of something you pursue?

Well, our audience is largely technical. They're either practicing engineers or, in some cases, marketing or sales. But in even those cases, given the technical nature of the RF microwave industry, most folks come to their roles from some kind of a technical background, or they have a technical familiarity, certainly. So we try to make sure the articles are technically focused. Now, that doesn't mean you have to derive Maxwell's equations and that sort of thing. But we do try to provide technical content. And one of our hallmarks or one of our strong guidelines is if someone publishes or wants to publish an article about a design, we ask them to not only present what the simulated performance is, but what is the measured performance?

And how did the measure compare with the simulated? And although simulation is getting far, far better than when I first started as an engineer, it's not perfect. You don't always get first fast design success, and all the parameters don't always come out as you expected. So having the humility of a designer to say here's where we hit here's where we missed. This is the next step or whatever. I think that's very important. So that's kind of what we look for. Also, is it a broad interest to our readership?

We cover a lot of markets, but some topics are so specialized that we may think we'd publish it online, but not necessarily in the magazine because we have limited editorial pages.

Okay, good. That's helpful. It's interesting, too. The way that you're saying kind of you need those actual proof points, not just in theory, but kind of let's talk through where you're actually hitting the data. What that looks like? I can imagine giving readers that picture then of what this looks like in the real world versus just kind of a concept that was kind of contributed content coming in. What are other ways that you're sourcing information? And how are you even choosing those kind of far out topics.

Well, we try to keep an awareness of what's going on in the industry by watching news, watching press releases, and so forth, trying to see what are the topics that are emerging? Some topics, like five G or aerospace and defense. Five G is maybe more recent over the last several years, but it emerges you see it emerging in the industry through conferences. And so we tend to identify some of those that we think would have broad interest and then solicit articles or look at people that are doing work in that area through press releases or other articles, and then in some cases, asked them to write contributed pieces.

We also, for example, with aerospace and defense. Obviously, that is a long market that goes back certainly to World War II, as far as microwave technology is concerned, even before that. And so there we tend to look at trends, what things are happening, and again, try to get people to write about some of those topics you mentioned conferences.

So when I started in my career, I had a background in public relations and work internally at a company at a large company for public relations. And a primary way that we connected our engineers with publications was at conferences and events. And we would set up meetings and show Editors demos. How has that changed? And as an editor, what are conferences look like for you? How do you engage with experts kind of through that forum, or do you has it changed so much that you don't? What does that look like?

Well, it certainly has changed because of the pandemic, but we're hoping we're getting signs that the normal see if I can call it that is coming back or starting to come back. And honestly, trade shows and conferences have been a great way for us to meet with companies. Solicit content, get a sense of what people are doing. If you can imagine the industry microwave industry is global. And if we were to make trips to each company to meet with them once a year and see what's going on.

The travel budget would be exorbitant. A trade show or a conference is a good way where companies come together. And in one or two days, we can see most of the companies that we're either doing business with or thought leaders in the industry, and we can try to solicit articles from them and get a sense of what kind of announcements, what kind of new products and so forth are they making? So our hope is that conferences will come back. They're starting to probably the next test will be the European Microwave Week, which will be in February in London.

Obviously, for people in the US, that will be a big test. Can we actually get admitted to Great Britain and attend? It looks like that's going forward. The other conference, the International Microwave Symposium, that is held once a year somewhere in the US, typically in June or late May. The one this past year or this year 2021 was held in Atlanta, and it was a tentative event. There was a small but good turnout. We all felt at that time. You may recall that the pandemic was ebbing out, the tide was leaving.

And so although there was a small group of people there, people felt like it was a real milestone. And then, of course, we've seen the pandemic come back. There are some other conferences. The satellite conference was held this fall. The Association of Old Crows will be the end of November.

Yeah. That's here in DC. That's where I am. Yeah.

So we're hopeful that we'll kind of get back to normal because the one thing that I hear, and it's certainly a frustration for me, is while an online technical conference can be fairly effective, you can do a nice presentation via Zoom or one of the other platforms. It's very difficult to meet with companies and have the kind of interaction you can have if you drop in their booth and look at some of the things on the wall and start chatting about, oh, what's this? And how did you do that?

Yeah. Those ad hoc conversations that come up and develop over time versus just I do think every kind of Zoom meeting has laid out agenda and purpose, and that's what you're going to cover. And then it's over. So I can see how that would make a big difference, right? Yeah. Tell me this. I was telling you before we got on the video a lot of times I've got engineering clients who will say, Well, here's we've got this new product launch, just send it to the publications and have them write about it.

And I know that that is not the best way to connect with you. I am sure your inbox is flooded with just junk. So tell me, what is the best way for technical companies to connect with you, whether both through relationship and kind of how to do it. And then with what?

So I would say if this is a company that is in the industry and tends to stay in the industry, that this is not just some ancillary product that's being introduced, that you should as a strategic goal, try to develop a relationship with the Editors and by relationship, see them at a trade show for a 30 minutes meeting, maybe arrange a phone call briefing particularly large and established companies like Keyside or Corvo or Skyworks. We know those folks. We have a good dialogue going on, but this is a particularly interesting time, particularly with Five G and Millimeter Wave technology.

There are a lot of startups, and sometimes we'll see a Press release. Sometimes we won't. And so particularly if you're a startup or a small company and you want to increase your presence in the industry, reach out and see if you can set up a meeting with the Editors of the magazines that cover your particular area and 30 minutes explain who you are, what you're doing. Why is it significant? One of my pet peeves about press releases, for example, I use the expression all engineers are from Missouri.

And if you don't know the motto of the state of Missouri, it's called the Show Me States. So engineers want you to show them, don't tell them your product is great, and then stop there. Show them why. It's great. So that's the point when you reach out to an editor, have your value proposition, your little elevator speech. Well, rehearsed and be able to tell the editor, why is this a better product than six or whatever companies that are also playing in this area? And what's the approach that you're taking that's unique now, obviously, we're not expecting you to share your IP and patents that haven't been filed yet, that sort of thing, but there needs to be some communication that kind of gives us.

Oh, that's interesting response.

Yeah. I love that our demo's still helpful and practical, even if it's virtual.

Yes, in some cases, definitely. It depends. Some of the products that we deal with, we're talking about semiconductor devices, and it may be difficult to actually do a demo, but if you can present measure data, certainly talk about the functionality of the part. We're seeing a lot of semiconductor products that are beam forming for millimeter wave, and so conveying the key parameters that your beam forming device or your antenna in package. Does that's important if it's some kind of device where you can actually measure, you can say, well, this power amplifier has so many DBM of output power.

With this efficiency and this kind of gain, then the numbers help to distinguish you from your competition. And again, don't expect that the editor is necessarily going to have a spreadsheet. And if you say our noise figure is such and such that we'll look in the spreadsheet and say, oh, yeah, that's 310 be better than so on. And so please do that homework yourself and say, this is the best noise figure or it's the same noise figure. But our pricing point is 30% less or whatever.

Interesting. So I think often in kind of content marketing, when we're creating inbound programs, often we're not necessarily pitting one product against the other. But you're saying that it is for you guys just to understand kind of the spectrum of products available. It's helpful if I can tell you exactly kind of how this relates and fits in on those spectrums.

Definitely. I wouldn't expect you to put that in the press release, right. But when you're having a one on one conversation with the editor, if you can again, it shows some humility being part of the industry. And we don't expect that you obviously, because I've come from industry. And there were often times I'd love to get a competitor's product to measure it on our bench, and we never could. So I don't expect that you necessarily know what the performance is, but you can probably get a data sheet or through one of the reps or distributors.

You can hear something about it. And obviously you must have done some of that homework as part of your marketing plan to justify doing the development in the first place. So share some of that information with us.

Great. I love that. Tell me about types of content and where you guys are focused. So thinking of kind of like trends in the industry, new technologies, new products, kind of case studies or applications. Is there a bigger focus on one of those than others? Talk to me about that?

Sure. One of the big things in the market today that we're tracking, obviously, five G is kind of in the early stages of deployment, so that's important in aerospace and defense. There's a lot of discussion about making systems more agile and being able to do upgrades more quickly. Obviously, there's phased arrays have been sort of the architecture of choice for many systems for a couple of decades. Now, a lot of these systems are making the transition to Gallium Nitride. So that's an area that we try to track now, with some of the trade tensions we're interested in kind of the global map of semiconductor technology and how some of the investments that are being discussed going into US Fabs or European Fabs, how those play out on the RF microwave space, automotive radar is another area that's coming on.

And there's sort of, I would say, a generational shift in radar trying to improve the capabilities so that these systems can be used more for autonomous driving, as opposed to just adaptive cruise control. So those are areas that we're tracking, of course, Internet of things, satellite systems, some of the emerging areas. I kind of hate to say this because I don't want to hype it too early, but we're already hearing people talk about six G, which is about a decade ahead of when it's actually going to arrive.

But obviously, people need to be doing research and starting to talk about it. And then one of the areas that I'm interested in medical applications, where our microwave technology could be applied.

Okay, great. I love that. So editorial calendars. I think probably a lot of the topics you mention come up on those editorial calendars. If I'm a technical company and I've got a story, how much should I look at your editorial calendars and try and be really aware of those focuses? Or should I just reach out with that story? And regardless of kind of timing again.

This is where having a relationship and a dialogue that you can have through either directly or through a PR firm is helpful. Our editorial calendar. We've just published the 2022 version. It's available on the Microwave Journal website. You can look at it you'll see the themes for each month and where the supplements are. For example, in March, we do a cables and connectors supplement. All the articles in a given month are not totally aligned with the theme of the month. So you may have an article that you'd like to pitch.

You may see that the theme of the issue where that fits is six months out, but you don't want to wait six months. So I would say, don't worry, contact us and say, hey, I'm thinking of this article. Are you interested in it?

Okay.

Certainly. If it's an article that's worthy of being the cover feature, we will align those with the theme of the month. And we do try to put special emphasis into selecting. Not all of them are created by us, meaning pitched by us. Some of them come to us from other companies. So don't be bashful about floating an idea.

Okay. And later on in the series, we're going to have a PR professional on and just talk through relationship management. I would love from your side to hear about what is from a relationship management standpoint, which I love that you acknowledge that that is what it is, right. What is helpful to you and what is just makes your day terrible from a kind of relationship management perspective.

I would say again, this is a fairly small industry. So many of the people that we work with in the industry we've known for decades, and the company they're at today is different than the company they were at five or ten years ago. So those relationships tend to be oftentimes with people, and they transcend the company. And we always enjoy working with folks that have this allegiance to the industry. Again, I would say, approach us, tell us what you're doing. Don't expect that you're going to have your article as the cover feature.

Have some humility about where you fit in the food chain. But let's talk. I think the challenge is. And the thing that's sometimes frustrating is, well, a couple of things. One is if the person doesn't can't put the context of what they're doing and they're saying this is wonderful, but it's really not wonderful. For example, the other aspect of it, I would say, is in terms of the relationship is talking to us about an article, we say pencil it in. We're going to have it for the November issue and a couple of weeks before the deadline, you say, Oops, we're not going to be ready.

We need to push this out. And I get that to some extent because I've been on the side where the product development slips.

Sure.

But don't wait till the last minute because we have to then go out and find another article to place in the issue that we were counting on. Yours.

Absolutely. Okay. That's great.

And I understand as well. Sometimes at trade shows and other events, it's a privilege, and it's a perk to be able to write an article and have your name in Microwave Journal or any of the other publications. And oftentimes there's a great enthusiasm for doing that article. The challenge is while companies often say, oh, this would be great. We want to support this, the culture and just the reality of day to day business. But of course, you're going to write this article on your own time late at night, on the weekend.

Right.

And so that's difficult often times, particularly if you're working on a program that's behind schedule or over budget. There's a lot of work pressure to get the job done and do what it takes. So, again, understand that the weather, the winds, the Hurricane, the tsunami, whatever may not allow you to complete the article, but please give us an advanced warning.

Yes. Okay. That's great. And then I wanted to ask you, you guys have a kind of a sister publication, Signal Integrity as well? Yes, I know. So in the last 15 years, a lot of even publications have come up under larger publishing houses and things like that for you guys. Do you guys share editorial? Do you share resources with that sister publication, or are those run separately?

They're pretty much run separately because the content, while similar, is different. We both have our own kind of editorial review boards that review incoming articles. We have separate Editors who tried to develop articles and themes for the issues. Signal Integrity Journal came about because it was an area that we just didn't see it was being served in the industry. Janine Love is the editor of Signal Integrity Journal, and she does a great job. She has a very strong editorial review board, very committed. And we're building that magazine.

It's largely online, but we do typically one or two actual print publications a year, and it's got a very loyal readership, a lot of encouragement. So it's a great success story for us. In a way organically. We've been able to kind of grow the business and obviously from a revenue standpoint, the promotional things that they sell the companies brings in additional revenue to our parent company, Horizon House. But editorially, we pretty much run independently now on the back end, on the production side for the print publication, we use the same staff to do both.

Okay. I used to meet with Janine, like, 15 years ago in my B and E. R. Career. That's wonderful. We've been talking a lot about the print side. What are kind of the key differences in the online editorial does everything that runs in print, run online as well. And then how do you supplement online content?

Our Microwave Journal has a subscription of about $50,000. I've lost track of the percentages, but well over 50%, I think get the print addition, the rest, get the digital version, which looks like the magazine, but it's online. We also do put all of the articles in each issue on the website as basically HTML pages. So you can read the issue that way. We also have online articles that do not appear in the print magazine. So because we have so many submissions that we can't because we're limited in actual paper pages that we can print.

We do what we call an online spotlight. So one article in each issue we basically include in our editorial index or table of contents, but it's published online.

Oh, great.

And then we will solicit or oftentimes companies will come to us and they'll have an article. It may be more of a tutorial. It may be more of an overview. We don't think it's quite suitable for the print addition. Again, we're scarce on pages, but we do think it's something that our readers would find valuable. So we oftentimes will offer the author the opportunity to publish it online. And in that case, we'll do a very light edit. Basically ask them for graphics that are suitable for the web, and they will post it in one of our online channels.

So we have, I think maybe a half a dozen channels that cover everything from aerospace and defense to automotive to five G, that sort of thing. So we'll put it in the appropriate channel. And oftentimes if you look on the homepage, we have several what we call feature boxes, if you will, and we may feature it in one of those boxes for several days as we kind of rotate things through there. So it gets more attention for people that just jump on the homepage.

Sure. Excellent. And something I would imagine people are wondering, does that content if they submit something for online need to be original? Can it be something that they have already posted or published on their own website?

So we ask, certainly, for the print publication that we're the first, and this does not appear in any other publication. Sometimes we'll get a request. Could it be reprinted in Russian, for example, for a Russian publication? And oftentimes there's no conflict really between us and that publication. So we'll oftentimes say yes, no problem. Go ahead, translate it, publish it. We do ask if someone, for example, has an article in our magazine and they want to put it on their website, just put a reference in a link that it was first published in microwave Journal.

Sometimes we do get people asking to sort of convert a white paper that they've already published to an article, and it kind of depends if they can update it, and it's substantially different. Sure. If they just want to reprint it, then we have so much content to choose from, unless it were something very compelling, we'd probably say no. And in some cases we do offer paid white paper programs and other things. They could take that particular white paper. Or maybe it's a presentation that they could use for a webinar, and it could be turned into something that would be part of a promotional campaign.

Excellent. I'm glad you mentioned that. We've got some experts coming on in the coming episodes to talk through what that looks like when editorial is not the right fit and it moves to pay placement or something like that, just depending on the goals of the company, right? Yeah.

Maybe to clarify that point, the editorial content for Microwave Journal is we don't ask people to pay for it. We choose it based on interest, what we think the reader interest will be, and it only costs the company. I say only the time and energy to put the article together, but we don't charge a fee for that.

Yeah. And that's a big barrier. I know companies just like you said, it often means somebody is up late at night or they're writing something on the weekend to put together to get it in the publication just because their daily job doesn't allow for time to write. So thank you. This information is just incredibly valuable. I will say I can only imagine we've got people listing and they're saying I have a really good topic. What do I do? Who do people reach out to?

So feel free to email me? It's glorude at mwjournal. Com. And please be persistent. As you noted earlier, I get tons of emails I'm not always good about inbox Zero. I've tried that several times, but it doesn't work for me.

It doesn't for me either.

Right now, I don't get a lot of direct messages on Twitter and LinkedIn. I'm not snowed with messages there, so if you don't get a response in a reasonable time, certainly within a week, feel free to send me a message on LinkedIn or a direct message on Twitter. And my apologies in advance. I feel bad that with everything coming in and we run a very lean operation that I can't tend to everything as quickly as I'd like to.

Sure. Well, I love that. I love that you've got kind of a direct line to you for anybody that's listing that's got thoughts and ideas or topics that they would really like to push, that they think would be a great fit for your readers. Right. So that's always first and foremost, it's the readers. If it's not a great fit for the readers and it doesn't have a spot. And so just trying to get engineers and technical companies to shift their thinking into what makes sense for those readers, not what makes sense to pitch a product.

Right. And a good place to start. If you go to the homepage of Microwave Journal down at the bottom kind of in the footer section, there is a link about submitting an article, so I would recommend you start there. We put some criteria in that kind of provides a window for the kinds of things that we're looking for. And if you think your idea fits within that, then definitely reach out to me.

Perfect. Well, thank you so much. I really appreciate you getting on here to just give us this landscape and overview, as well as all these details about how to effectively incorporate trade media and BB publications into an overall content strategy. So this is excellent. I'm sure you'll be getting some emails. So thanks, Gary.

My pleasure.

Thanks for joining me today on Content Marketing engineered for show notes, including links to any resources we talked about. Visit truemarketing. Comprodcast. While you're there, you can subscribe to our blog and newsletter. And we've also got a book that Windy authored called Content Marketing Engineered. It's about building and executing an end to end content marketing plan. I would also love your reviews on this podcast. So when you get a chance, subscribe rate and review Content Marketing Engineered on your favorite Pod Webcast subscription platform. Thanks again. Have a great day.