Marketing Through Building Products Publications

Building Brands Ep 12 Chelsie ButlerMarketing Through Building Products Publications

Chelsie Butler, Executive Editor at Kitchen & Bath Business Magazine, talks about the importance of trade publications, the audiences they serve, how a brand can best prepare to work with a publication, and the value of using this type of content outlet.

Episode Links
Find Chelsie on LinkedIn
Visit KBB Magazine Online

Episode Transcript
Tim
Welcome Building Brands listeners. For our 12th episode, I’m joined by Chelsie Butler, Executive Editor at Kitchen & Bath Business Magazine. KBB magazine delivers exclusive features on cutting edge design installations, new products, business developments, industry personalities, best practices and solid market research. And Kitchen & Bath Business was the first trade magazine for the kitchen and bath industry. In this episode, we talk about the importance of trade publications, the audiences they serve, how a brand can best prepare to work with a publication, and the value of using this type of content outlet. Enjoy the episode.

Tim
If you’re an owner and marketer in the building materials manufacturing, distribution or contracting spaces, looking to set up your brand for success now and in the future, this is the podcast for you. On this show, we talk about brand and market strategies used in the real world that grow companies and truly connect with consumer audiences. So sit back, listen in, and let’s get to it.

Tim
All right, welcome Chelsie Butler, Executive Editor at Kitchen & Bath Business Magazine. Thanks for coming on the show. Thanks so much for having me. Yeah, I’m looking forward to what we’re talking about today we’ll talk a little about how to integrate publication outreach into a PR strategy and and how they can work with someone like you in a magazine like ABB and what the value of that could bring, but first, why don’t we talk a little bit about your background. So everyone gets to know you a little bit before we talk about the magazine.

Chelsie
So I started writing in a really young age and decided to pursue journalism at school at the University of Florida, Go Gators, and I’ve been using my degree ever since. What brought me to KBB magazine was my first job out of college was at a sister publication within the same company called Display & Design Ideas. Now it’s called Design Retail. And I worked there for five years and when the position was open with Kitchen and Bath Business Magazine, two of my former colleagues recommended me for the job. So felt really lucky about the opportunity in terms of how I ended up in the building industry. I’ve worked for various publications throughout my career and most have actually been design and construction related. That’s where my interest lies. So again, lucked out with being able to pursue a topic I know a lot about.

Tim
Very cool. And you said that you worked for another division and then moved over to KBB. What you can talk about both I don’t know if you want to just touch on what both are, then we can go into what KBB is, and we can learn a little bit more about that. And then we can talk about how it relates to brand strategy and communication strategy.

Chelsie
Okay, sure. Design Retail the first job I had. It’s a magazine that caters to retail construction. So that is relevant in this discussion as well. The show that they have is called Global Shop. So I had been to that trade show a number of times and then I had a bunch of different positions with other magazines in between. So Kitchen and Bath Business is the exclusive publication of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, also known as NABA and that’s the world’s leading trade association for the kitchen and bath industry. And then we are also the exclusive publication of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show. And that’s North America’s largest trade show dedicated to Kitchen and Bath design. We cater to Kitchen and Bath professionals which include designers builders, remodelers, showroom dealers, and architects. And I think one of the questions you had was what kind of accomplishments I’ve made. I’ve been part of a website redesign as well as a few revisions to the look of the magazine. And then our publication has also won three awards since I have been the editor. And we’re going to pursue much more of those as well.

Tim
Very cool. And, yeah, that’s a pretty wide variety of people that you’re working with architects, designers retail, the whole Whole nine, is it hard to manage that breadth of content? Or does it actually make the job easier because it allows you to develop more content and have more ways to provide education for the readers and the the subscribers.

Chelsie
Yeah. And it makes the job more interesting to be able to, you know, some of the content caters to all of those kinds of people. Some of the content is more specific to, you know, say a builder or a modeler versus a designer. We also have a lot of articles that cater to skilled laborers, things of that nature. So it does make it more interesting to you know, for me to be able to keep up on the topics that interest all those different positions.

Tim
Do you see a larger segment of the audience being swayed more towards the business and contractor side or the the design and homeowner or installers?

Chelsie
I would say definitely the remodelers and the designers. That’s our biggest market segment for the readership.

Tim
Yeah, the main goal of that is is that to connect them with the brands that they’re interacting with? Or is it? Is it an educational thing, a marketing thing, what’s CBeebies main angle there?

Chelsie
Well, the title is Kitchen and Bath business. So along with the pretty pictures and the projects and things of that nature, we also want to be able to provide business related articles as well, so that our readers can continue to be successful in their careers. So it’s a learning curve for us along the way, as well to gather all this content, learn about it, so that we can provide them with the educational opportunities, the business related articles, you know, and even with the project articles that we have, we like to find an angle with those when we feature them. So not just pretty pictures again, but what were the challenges that were overcome? You know, that kind of thing.

Tim
And you’re you’re working a lot with brands do you also work with the contractors too. bring them in and have articles about jobs they’ve done or anything like that.

Chelsie
Yeah, whoever sends us the articles usually, you know, the ideas is usually who we will end up interviewing. And sometimes that does end up being the remodeler.

Tim
Cool. It’s a magazine, do you have a print version and a digital version? I know you mentioned the website redesign was a big part of you coming on and helping make that impact. Where are you publishing a lot of this information and these stories and making these dots connected between your audiences?

Chelsie
Yes, we have a print version and a digital version. It’s on our website, but we have eight issues that come out throughout the year. So of course, that leaves a lot more time that we can dedicate to populating our website with new content, new products, new projects, new features, that kind of thing. We are populating our website with all this information on a daily basis.

Tim
And the content. Do you have advertising too? Is it a little bit of paid and/or and earned content. What would you say the percentages on that, in terms of how you’re acquiring This is are people actually paying to get their product is as a feature in some sort of article? Or is that also being complemented with just really good stories that are coming your way or that you’re finding and writing more content about?

Chelsie
Yeah, we don’t. For the editorial side, we don’t have anyone pay to be included. And we write those articles ourselves. There are like some native advertising opportunities and advertorials in the print magazine that, you know, that’s more along the lines of the advertising side, but we tend not to blur the lines between the advertising and editorial.

Tim
Yeah, that’s good. And how big is your subscriber base? Do you know like, generally speaking.

Chelsie
Yeah, I don’t have an exact number for you, but it is more than 104,000 as part of the circulation, which also includes NKBA members as well.

Tim
So let’s talk about how someone might work with KBB magazine, they’re coming up with their PR strategy for their brand. They’ve done some digital content. They’ve done a lot of things on their own, but now they’re trying to get other outlets involved so they can expand their reach. One thing that I like to start with is to ask someone in your position who kind of manages producing this type of content with those people, how can they be prepared to work with a publication like KBB?

Chelsie
So this is a question I do get a lot of and I, I enjoy answering it because it makes my life a little bit easier,

Tim
Good. We want to make everyone’s life a little easier.

Chelsie
So you know, we get information, you know, usually via email. So in terms of product releases, we depend on brands to share new product information with us so we can pass it along to our readers. Like I said, via the website and in our publication. We share a trend articles and each issue and discuss those with various brands that are representing those trends in the industry. From time to time, brands will share kitchen and bath projects with us that incorporate their particular brand and we may decide to use those, you know, we would pursue the designer the remodeler involved for the interview. As far as continued education than national kitchen bath association with him, we’re partnered offers educational opportunities, including various certifications. And there are plenty of educational sessions that we offer at the show, a lot of which include CEU credit, we post industry news in the magazine and on the website on a regular basis. Same thing with the product releases, we often publish important information on such things as new hires, community involvement, new openings, partnerships, things of that nature.

Tim
So when it comes to some of the things that these companies are supplying you, obviously some information on the product or the story helps, is there anything else from a material standpoint or a design asset standpoint where they can help supply those things to you that you would also Included articles in print or online.

Chelsie
So, you know to make our job easier in going through the mass amount of emails that we get every day to consider product releases, brand information, things like that concise information in the form of a press release is easiest for us. And we also have receipt images and keep in mind they need to be high rez, if we’re going to use them in print.

Tim
Yeah, that’s a big one. Yeah, it is a big deal. Because you know, that just doesn’t reproduce the same way and it looks bad. a physical product sample is not always a viable option, but it’s helpful to be able to see things in person. So like, that’s the benefit, obviously, of attending trade shows and other industry events. So you can see those things in person. We do not typically use logos. We like to use photos instead. So the website isn’t just a bunch of logos. If the news is about teamwork or new hire we like to get photos of actual people. People like to see pictures of themselves and other people and that kind of thing. So that’s That kind of goes to like the second part of having the right things for brand strategies, it’s really good to have the logos and the colors and the fonts and have that all ironed out. But there’s this like, extra layer of creative assets that can help when someone’s working with a publisher like you. And a lot of it really does focus around photography and media production. If you want to get into a publication, whether it’s a print publication, a digital publication, or even a video pre reel or something like that, to have photo and video and to be able to have high resolution, the right composition and get that off to the the publisher. Yeah, just it makes their job easier. It makes you look better to when you provide that stuff for them.

Chelsie
Yeah, and I mean, if we do get something where someone says something regarding a new product, and there’s not a high res photo, so we have to ask for that. And then sometimes people don’t respond and then after a while, we just we have to move on, you know, so yeah, you don’t hear back from them. It’s unfortunate that they may not be included. Because of that, again, we have to, we have to move on to a bunch of other things with the with the brands and you know, who are actually supplying the right information for us so that we don’t have to do too much additional legwork.

Tim
Yeah, I mean, your goal is to have a professional look and professional presentation for the content that you’re producing. And if you can’t represent the brand, or the contractor properly, so that they look at to it’s not worth getting them in, if you absolutely need the imagery to help complement that article information. Obviously, it’s important for those things that happen, how does it make your job easier for people to come to you and have all these things all these ducks in a row already? Is there a benefit to being able to move faster? Is it having a more in depth article? What’s the real benefits someone’s getting by having all this stuff prepped for you?

Chelsie
Um, you know, is the is the copy accurate, we always appreciate not having to do too much rewriting or perfectionist or editor. So accuracy in the copy is really, really appreciated. Professional presentation, sometimes we actually get someone who emails us and they’ll include 100 other editor names in the in the box up there. And that is always kind of frustrating because it says, you know, you’ve emailed an entire list of editors and didn’t use line 50 or personalize it. And a lot of the times they don’t take the time to get our publication name correct. So we always appreciate that as well. Just, you know, we don’t have to go back and say, Are you sure this is who you’re trying to contact? You know, just making sure

Tim
yeah, if you’re if they’re trying to build a relationship with a publication outlet, you have to build the relationship the same way you would with a person sure No, I understand how you guys get along and how the mutual benefits can can work for each other.

Chelsie
Right. Visit the website, get a little bit of an idea. Look at the magazine first.

Tim
It’s like applying to a job without knowing what the company is.

Chelsie
And we also get duplicate emails. So brands sometimes will send us an, you know, a new product release, and we put it in our queue. We don’t ignore those if they’re the photos are there and they’re easy to use, and we’ll post it eventually. But what’s confusing is that a lot of those brands will then email a week later, to touch base and send the exact same email. And that gets really confusing. And I do try it is as often as I can to say, Yes, we have this, we’re not ignoring it. Like it’s just gonna take a minute for it to get posted and stuff like that so.

Tim
What is the typical turnaround time for getting included? I mean, you have eight issues that come out a year is that like every month and a half is what does that work out to you?

Chelsie
Yeah, something like that. Some of them are kind of back to back and then you know, like a couple of them are double issues. So there’s a little bit more time in between deadlines. I think For that, it kind of just depends on what we’re covering in the magazine, we have specific product sections that we feature. So we’ll be working on contacting those particular brands, or sometimes the brands contact us and say, Hey, we noticed that this is what you’re featuring. And next issue, we have something new to share. In terms of the website. Again, you know, we do have some categories that we feature there. But as we get new products, you know, we would hope that they would be able to go up on the website within a week to 10 days, sometimes sooner. Right now, I’ve been kind of working on that a little bit and trying to post as much as possible during all this time.

Tim
And that’s the beauty of digital it can happen much faster. So if someone comes prepared, you got all the ducks in the row, they can work with you or whoever from KBB and that gets up faster on digital and then I’m assuming within one or two episodes of the publication. If they’re coined for that, then they would end up in one of those next few episodes or issues. Yeah, so it’s for someone that’s interested in this when they’re working with you. Do you ever have to do any of the interviewing or outreach or people providing you a lot of pre packaged content that you’re making suitable for the magazine?

Chelsie
Yeah, I mean, we get a lot of information that is sent to us that we don’t have to do a ton of outreach. Sometimes we do need to do it for like, again for the various categories we’re working on. So say an issue is going to have a focus on dishwashers. And we don’t have eight brand new dishwashers to feature then we will reach out to brands to ask like, do you have anything new we can share, things like that. So the more specific it gets, we might have to do a little more outreach, but then again, some of those brands have been paying attention to our editorial calendar and they send it to us knowing that we’re going to be you know, featuring that and another thing that I didn’t mention before is timing, a lot of brands will send something after the due date, or I mean, I don’t know that we have anything, particularly up there that kind of gives them that information. It’s kind of more of a general date that’s up there. But a lot of times they’ll send us something and we can’t use it because we’ve already gone to press. So I think if those brands know that as far in advance, as we possibly can, so Timing is everything for that as well.

Tim
How far in advance Are you hoping to get things before the public if they’re caught if they want to be in the publication side? And not just the digital side know how much of the lead time do you look for for something like that?

Chelsie
So we’re working on July, August right now, this was this one gives us a little bit more time in between issues. And I like to say that this is kind of like the only time during the entire year that I am not always gasping for air. So we have a little bit of time. So Aaron, our Managing Editor I would imagine is reaching out right now to The categories that we’re featuring in the next issue, so she’s probably reaching out to all those brands right now to make sure that we have enough new content to share. And then we go to print in about a month.

Tim
So it sounds like one to three months ahead of time gives you enough lead time to cue them up for the right issue, get the right contact, their contact information for the assets you need.

Chelsie
Yeah, I’d say a month to two max.

Tim
When you’re doing that outreach or the managing editor or when someone’s contacting you. And this might be a two sided question. Who are you usually dealing with on the company side? Is it a marketing director, marketing manager, or a product rep that’s contacting you? And if you have to do any outreach, who do you Who are you usually asking for at the at the company’s at the same type of person?

Chelsie
So we typically like to interview the actual product designer for our product trends, articles and inspiration behind you know, they’re designed for a particular product and some more company wide news. Where the piece like, say, an acquisition, something of that nature, we like to discuss those with an actual company executive.

Tim
So it sounds like when someone’s reaching out to you, they should probably have those people ready in their back pocket so that when that extra asked comes from your side to touch base for an interview that they have that person they’re confident in to put in front of you.

Chelsie
Yeah, that’s great for us.

Tim
So let’s say everyone’s prepared, you have them up on the website, the issues about to publish and everything goes out. And it’s awesome. Do you do anything with brands to help them understand what the reach was for the article or the issue that they were in or, or help provide a snapshot of the value they’re getting out of working with? KBB?

Chelsie
Yeah, I mean, it’s kind of on an asked basis. We have had some people come back to ask, you know, about some metrics there. If it’s published online, we do have metrics that we go right to see how much action the post has done. And with print, it’s a little bit of a different story. But we do get feedback from readers on a pretty regular basis as far as what they like didn’t that kind of thing?

Tim
Yeah, that’s the beauty about the digital side. Yeah, to some degree, it’s, it’s great because you have the data at your fingertips. Sometimes we’d get lost in the data and make a little bit too granular decisions. Sometimes. It is really great to be able to see where your hotspots are, and the things that are grabbing people’s attention.

Chelsie
Yeah, absolutely.

Tim
So for building products, even building materials, companies that kind of share a lot of the same needs, in marketing and engaging with their audiences. What do you think their best value in engaging a magazine like KBB is what’s the real reason that people should be doing this in this industry,

Chelsie
The industry is inundated with similar brands, products, things like that. So being able to tell the industry about you, what sets you apart from the competition is highly beneficial, it lets them learn about a company or brand through news, new products, which designers have used the brands and various projects, what trends and innovations the company is involved in. Because a lot of industry professionals already have their brands like their coveted brands that they use for, for most of their projects and things like that. But being in a publication also alerts them to new brands, new products, things like that, that they may not have had the time to research on their own. So I think definitely being in a publication helps you stand out from the competition and immediately alerts the industry. What’s new with you? What do you have to offer?

Tim
Yeah, and like what you’re saying, you do have advertising opportunities in your publication, but really, this is if you have a great product or a great project, put that in front of people. This is an outlet where you can put that information together, get it in front of a publication that you know the audience will respond to Have them get it out into the world for you digitally and through print. And that’s just another one of those touch points and an integrated marketing campaign. So you’re not just always hitting people with paid digital ads or sales brochures or email marketing. It’s here’s something cool that we have an innovative product article, or a project with a really cool designer that we want you to know about. And here’s where you can learn about it. And KBB is one of those areas where you can publish that content. Yeah. So a little bit more generally speaking, the building materials, industry building products is hundreds of years old. And it’s one of those industries, that’s kind of, like you said, construction designers, construction companies, they love working with the brands that they’ve worked with for years. So you have to if you’re a new player in the market, you have to bring your A game to try and get their attention pulled away. But at the same time, marketing has also changed drastically in the last 15 to 20 years with digital and everything coming around. Do you have any take on where the industry might be going in the future 510 years down the road and and how publications might play a role in that or just in general about the building materials industry, what do you think might happen in it?

Chelsie
Well, just to address the elephant in the room, whether current situation, I think it’s important for building materials brands to be as available as possible as people are going to want to renovate and build once they feel comfortable. Again, price may factor into this as well. I do feel there will be more of a focus on materials and products for well being. I think that will be something that maybe is generated right now with our current situation, but I think it will be something that people are talking about and want for years to come and those kinds of materials and products could include, you know, improve ventilation, low VOCs, hypoallergenic options, accessible designs, for a in place, but I do think that’s going to be a really big trend in the industry. And I think with that and all other trends that evolve, the brands that are going to, you know, come out on top are going to be the ones that are following those trends and coming up with innovations and ideas, ASAP, so that people can go out and get those.

Tim
I cannot tell you how many home DIY home projects I’ve seen on Instagram and Facebook over the last three months of this pandemic. And the other interesting thing that that I think plays into this too is in order to engage your customers in this way. This is where can’t DIY content on websites and educational content, how to use the products what you can do with the products. These are all content opportunities that you can put out through social and start to get that interaction with your audiences and that’s something that you could do in the in the near term. But yeah, in the in the future. I see the home becoming more important from a you’re not just there from 5pm to 7am you might be home a couple days a week working so a lot of people are going to be diving into home office and and you know separated workspace areas in their houses. Definitely. And who knows what happens with the health stuff. I think the the point on the air quality and healthy living lifestyle will probably definitely factor in with that too. From a branding standpoint, from what you know, is working a lot of brands, what do you think is a critical thing that people can do for their brand right now?

Chelsie
I think right now like marketing, marketing, marketing, get the word out as everyone has more a little more free time right now to research their choices. They’re staying home they’re on the computer designers are taking this, you know, design professionals are taking this opportunity to learn more, that kind of thing. So I think it’s it’s still so important to be front and center. During even a time like this, yeah,

Tim
A lot of people are in research mode now, because I don’t want any paying projects are down or on hold. So they’re taking their free time, quote unquote, free time. And they’re using that to go out and find the next best thing. So when the work picks up, they can come in with a fresh attitude and a fresh look on where they want to go with their designs and their projects. Absolutely. And if you go silent during a time like this, but like you said, when when people are actually actively spending more time online to pass the time while while they’re home, or, God forbid, they are laid off right now and they’re trying to just educate themselves and stay up on an industry or, or a trend. That’s an opportunity to get more and more touch points with them to make sure that they understand that you’re out there and that you’re an active player in the market.

Chelsie
Yeah, absolutely. So.

Tim
You know, we talked a lot about working with the publication how to make your job easier, how to make the content better. Is there anything that people pertains to working with KBB that I haven’t drawn out of you through these questions that you want to make sure that people know about before we wrap up.

Chelsie
Um, I would say, you know, I just think trade publications that are specific to the industry, I really think it’s a mistake for brands not to get involved with those publications. I mean, they’re strictly there to serve the trades and the industries who are trying to learn about these kinds of things. So I think it’s, it’s definitely impossible to get involved, not just now just all the time, you know, make sure you know who those editors are making sure you have good working relationships with them. We know some of the people we work with, we feel like they’re friends. In some instances, that doesn’t mean they’re going to get to the top of the list. But those who do make it easier to work with and know who we are and we have a mutual relationship is is really beneficial.

Tim
Yes, because these publication outlets are always going to exist, even if print goes away, right, there will still be digital publications. Yeah. So there’s no reason to not have a relationship with someone that’s in print publishing right now, just because you think that print is going away in a couple of years, right? content will always be a thing no matter what platform it’s going out.

Chelsie
Definitely.

Tim
So I think that is a really good point to end on. But before we wrap up the episode, why don’t you tell us a little bit more about where people can find you and more about KBB magazine so that they can get involved with the publication.

Chelsie
Okay, and our website is simply KBBonline.com. And there you can find information, you know, news products, project sections, as well as our blog, information about our awards programs. We do have product innovator awards, and that is brand driven. So you find information about our awards programs, our media kit, and then we are on Twitter @KBBConnect, Facebook @KitchenandBathBusiness, Instagram @KBB_Magazine. And then we do have a LinkedIn group that is called the KBB Designers Network as well.

Tim
Cool. Well, I will link to some of those on the Show page so everyone can get there do that. Other than that, thanks for being on the episode. This was really great to catch up and learn a little bit more about the publication side and help people prepare to work with magazines like KBB.

Chelsie
Awesome. Thank you so much for having us on.

Tim
If you’re interested in hearing more stories and strategic insights from industry experts, please subscribe to the Building Brands podcast on Apple, Spotify or Google. If you’ve enjoyed this episode, please post a review and share with others who may be interested as well. Thanks for listening.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai