The Indian textiles and garment industry contributes 2% to the country’s GDP, 7% of industrial output and 14% of total exports earnings. To cater to this huge industry and bring manufacturers, distributors, agents, wholesalers and retailers closer and on one platform, a number of trade publications too have come up. Besides, mainstream fashion publications/websites and e-retail giants also often hire people with experience in writing for trade publications.
Richa Bansal has more than 30 years of media industry experience, of which the last 20 years have been with leading fashion magazines in both B2B and B2C domains. Her most recent position was at the helm of editorial affairs at Fibre2Fashion, one of India’s leading B2B media conglomerates, which has a prominent presence across magazines, events and websites. Richa has worked as the head of a slew of premium B2B magazines, including Images Business of Fashion, Shoes & Accessories India and the iconic Sportswear International, of which she was the Launch Editor. This was preceded by prolific work with newspapers, wire services and news portals, including Indiatimes.com, India Abroad News Service (IANS), Press Trust of India (PTI) and the Sentinel.Currently, Cofounder and Director of Fashion Research Centre, Richa shares few tips on making a successful career in trade publications as a writer. Excerpts from a conversation:
Q: How is a trade magazine different from other publications?
A: A trade magazine is just that — a business 2business publication that caters to a particular industry, or even a segment of a sector within a specific industry. A niche could be textiles, fashion, information technology, home fashion, electronics, agriculture, commodities, or retail, just to name a few. In a trade publication, the target audience is the entrepreneur or personnel across the entire value chain of that particular niche. For instance, in the textiles industry some trade publications focus on every segment beginning with fibre to shelf (Fibre2Fashion), some dwell on only machinery, a few only on the fashion part of it (Business of Fashion), a handful on the point of sale (Point of Purchase), etc.
By other publications I believe you mean the B2C products like say a Femina, Cosmopolitan,GrehShobha, Sarita, Mukta, etc. These publications target consumers like you and me. It can focus on men (GQ, Men’s Health), women (Femina, Vogue, Cosmopolitan), prevention (health for all), LivingEtc (Home), etc.
Q: What are the roles and responsibilities of journalists working with trade publications?
A: The role and responsibility of journalists with trade publications is what a member of the Fourth Estate should be doing—reporting facts as they are, analysing trade trends, researching on market segments, reporting on news and developments in the particular trade the publication is focused on, and of course profiles of the business people, their enterprises, case studies and the like.
Q: Should journalists working with trade publications possess good public relations skills as well?
A: Good inter-personal skills is an attribute that every individual must have. In any business or profession, you need to deal with people, like it or not.
Q: What is the future of trade magazines in the digital era?
A. As things turn more digital and less print with every passing day, the future of all print publications lie in the digital domain. But it is not going to be easy because digital publications (trade or otherwise) have to cut through the information clutter. The only way digital publications can do this is by delivering something that is indispensable to the reader.
You can’t publish fluff stuff and get away with it. Trade publications are better positioned than mainstream publications to do this since the content is customised and, hopefully, just as well credible, relevant and streamlined. People will read your stuff and pay for it too if it makes sense to them. Most of the content needs to be hard-boiled. People will and do read longer pieces if those are analyses and to some extent commentaries as well. No one will pay or take time out to read opinions and observations. The latter come for free, and there is a deluge of all that on the internet.