I received an email earlier this week from the editor of the Health Services Journal reminding me that his publication celebrates its 124th birthday this week. On the face of it 124 seems like an odd birthday to make a fuss about, but in the present climate of wide spread publication closures I can understand why a trade journal would want to shout about the fact that it is still around.
Trade magazines such as the HSJ are still around because there is a market for what they do. In recent years many trade publications have reacted to declining ad revenues by reducing the frequency of publication, moving online or simply ceasing publication altogether.
For example, one of the trade mags I regularly read is P.R. Week which rather confusingly hangs on to its traditional title despite the fact that it produces its print edition monthly and its email newsletter daily.
It is easy to laugh at some of the more obscure publications, as Have I Got News for You regularly does on its missing headlines round. Yet we should remember that trade mags often have a very loyal and enthusiastic readership. For example, Waste Management World can boast almost 10,000 followers on Twitter.
A couple of decades ago I had a stint as editor of Construction Manager magazine. It was clear from the letters and phone calls I received that the readers of the magazine really did value the publication and found it valuable both in their daily work and in helping to develop and advance their careers.
Trade magazines are also an excellent opportunity for PR people to get their messages across to a highly targeted audience. Many trade journals operate on tight budgets with low staffing levels, and are therefore often very happy to publish relevant photographs, news pieces and feature articles from press officers.
Trade magazines such as the HSJ and PR Week are hugely important in both distributing information and in stimulating debate. It is a shame that many are struggling, but I feel that we should not only support these magazines but also celebrate them.