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Author: Ross Sturley – CIMCIG Committee Member (@rosssturley)

The internet has killed the construction press - or at least that’s what some people think. The wide variety of freely available information has made trade magazines redundant as far as breaking news or informing the market.

At the same time, the internet allows companies to promote their brand without the need of media channels. Your website can carry all the messages, case studies and technical information you want the market to hear - and Google helps your customers find it. You simply don’t need a business magazine to deliver the message.GleniganNewsletter_TradePress_CIMCIG_June-14

This is all true, of course, up to a point. You can build a great website with everything you need on it and, with decent optimisation, search engines will deliver you page views. The internet has certainly changed the role of the business magazine – rolling news is a very different beast to the old weekly cycle.

However, the real value of the trade press is, and has always been, their ability to crystallise a community.

Great media brands are at the heart of their community. They listen to them, aggregate and filter their opinions and reflect them back. They stimulate, nurture and act for an identifiable group, helping them to unify and do a better job.  This purpose is unchanged by the internet, just as the key role of the journalist survived first radio and then TV. New technologies change the delivery, but not the central principles.

With construction an industry that relies so heavily on relationship building, this function remains particularly critical. Architects, civil engineers, quantity surveyors, service engineers and more have been strengthened as communities over the years by sharing quality business magazines.

The engagement between a good media brand and its community is strong and produces a platform that marketers can use not just to broadcast messages, but to strengthen them with trusted third party endorsement. Your case study chosen and printed with editorial comment is stronger than just putting it on your website.

The internet has enabled an explosion of information. Smart phones have made it impossible to grab a quiet moment. Information is all around you, all the time. This makes it easy to find the answer to your question, or rather it makes it easy to find an answer – but are you sure it’s the right one?

If you want to know the answer is correct, then you’ll go to someone you trust. ‘Fred’s’ blog may well be right, but the BBC is far more likely to be.

The information explosion also makes it harder to find exactly what you’re looking for, as it’s surrounded by so much junk and noise. So what we really need is some sort of filter that cuts the wall of information down to only the things you need to know, and checks them to make sure they’re right. This, of course, has always been the key role of the business magazine and people still trust the same magazines and journalists to tell them what matters.

So the business magazine is just changed by the internet. They still play an important role in your customers’ lives and therefore can provide you with a useful platform. Don’t ignore them.

Do you think the trade press remains relevant in an era where construction companies can control their own news agendas? Get in touch with your views on Glenigan's social media channels via the icons at the top of the page.

Ross Sturley is principal at Chart Lane, a strategic communications company specialising in construction, property and regeneration, and a committee member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing Construction Industry Group.

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