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  • Writer's pictureJohn Cavender

Tackling Trade Media: PropertyCasualty360 Editor Denny Jacob on Insurance Media

The Wall Street Journal covers cybersecurity and insurance, but it is rare to see coverage of the two sectors overlapping. Trade publications don’t only benefit businesses by honing in on individual industries, but they also cover the crossover of niche topics, like cyber insurance, that aren’t regularly seen elsewhere.

Denny Jacob, editor at PropertyCasualty360

Trade media presents an opportunity for businesses to tell stories to their target readership about specific innovations and insights that overlap between spaces.

For this month’s edition of our series “Tackling Trade Media,” we spoke with Denny Jacob, an editor at the leading insurance trade, PropertyCasualty360. One of Denny’s focuses is cybersecurity and how it intersects with insurance. His stories are written for various insurance professionals including agency brokers, account managers, board members, consultants, brokers, and liability managers.

From our conversations, we’ve outlined some key mistakes you might make when sharing story ideas with trade media as you work to drive engagement with a targeted audience.

Trade Mistake 1: You Can’t Blend Topics

Every publication wants to cover breaking news. But unlike a nationally distributed publication, trade publications cover these front-page stories from a specific lens. That means that you shouldn’t be concerned about whether a major economic shift, social development, or international change is relevant to an industry publication.

Instead, approach these trades using the lens of their specialty. When you propose a story to a trade reporter, help them connect the dots by explaining how the day’s news affects the industry and why their industry professional readers should care. When it comes to insurance media, for example, PropertyCasualty360 has a reason to write about a story when it links back to the concerns of the broker or agent. And if the story relates back to breaking news, all the more reason for a trade to cover it.

Focusing on how breaking news applies to a trade’s industry becomes especially important during the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. If your business has relevant insights to share relating to the crisis, you can pitch your story idea to a trade by framing it around how your insights relate back to their industry. (For more recommendations on communications during the COVID-19 crisis, visit our resource page.) Denny told us, “The Washington Post or Bloomberg talk about cyber attacks or insurance developments. But that will never be their focus. Trade media comes in to serve readers that only want to read about this and to get really in-depth coverage. It is a niche, but at the same time it serves a lot of readers.”

Of course, trade readers have heard breaking news elsewhere, but they turn to these publications to get a deep dive into what it means for their businesses.

Trade Mistake 2: If a Reporter Doesn’t Write It, You Can’t

Denny, like other editors, has often let us know that in certain instances a publication would prefer for an executive to write a contributed article rather than have their writers cover the story. “It is important to see how a development is affecting insurance right now,” he told us. This presents an opportunity for companies to directly share insights with targeted trade readers in the form of a byline.

If a story idea isn’t landing at first, try offering it up as a piece of contributed content instead. And if you or the executives are experts in the industry, all the better. Trade editors know the ins and outs of their space and they will immediately recognize expertise based on their resume, while national papers may not immediately see an expert executive’s value.

Another thing to keep in mind when putting forward executives is diversity. Denny shared he doesn’t often see a focus on this. He’s interested in insurance leaders from different backgrounds and in companies that put an emphasis on building a diverse team. “The insurance industry is made up of the same old crowd, for the most part,” he said, “so a company that puts an emphasis on a new crowd is interesting.”

Trade Mistake 3: Innovation Is a Bubble

Even if a story is about a hot topic within the industry bubble, trades may not be interested. Because these reporters are so deeply embedded in industry news, they are often careful with the hype. They know the space better than anyone and may steer clear of something too flashy. “Unless there is a big partnership, a lot of funding, or examples of how it is actually changing insurance, it can be more hype than reality,” said Denny.

While certain decisions in regulation, law, or technology may not directly affect your business’s innovation, having the insight to share a perspective on what this means to the broader industry makes you an asset to trade reporters. For example, Denny has stressed his interest in the effect of government regulation on cybersecurity, insurance, and everything in-between. These might not necessarily be your hot topics of the day, but that doesn’t mean they are less valuable to reporters. Often they are even more valuable.


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