The Benefits of a Career in B2B Journalism

We editors are well aware of the risks of a career in journalism and have been reminded regularly since the first time we told someone our major and they (helpfully) informed us.

A recent Poynter article about the outlook for aspiring and early-career journalists notes that national news and media companies to lay off significant numbers of staff this year alone include The Washington Post, Vox Media, NPR and BuzzFeed. And a 2022 report found that more than 360 local newspapers had closed since 2019. 

But I’ve always wanted to be a magazine editor. And so far I can say I’m glad I chose this path.  It still feels surreal at times that I get to do this every day.

While B2C continues to struggle, B2B publications — like Club + Resort Chef — are met with an enthusiastic, loyal readership base, and events like our annual Chef to Chef Conference, which our readers look forward to each year, help drive revenue.

Like all media, B2B has its challenges, often operating with a slim staff. But for trade publications, in my experience, this translates to an opportunity to make an immediate and significant impact with your work. 

As a whole, B2B remains an often overlooked sector of journalism. As companies continue to merge and fold, there are trade magazines for every industry — hyper-niche publications you’ve never heard of.

I spoke with three other ASBPE members for a broader perspective on the opportunities in B2B.

Claire MeyerClaire Meyer

Managing Editor, Security Management
ASIS International (Alexandria, Va.)
2020 Young Leader Scholar

Isabelle Gustafson (IG): What led you to a career in B2B media? What do you like most about your current role?

Claire Meyer (CM): I was job-hunting after graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism with a magazine concentration, and I stumbled across a number of job posts for B2B magazine positions. We hadn’t focused much on B2B in J-School except for a few asides about B2B publications as viable alternative career opportunities. But mainstream outlets were not hiring outside of freelance opportunities, and I wanted to dig into a beat more steadily. I applied for a role at Security Magazine (BNP Media) and started my career in the security industry from there.

My current role at Security Management Magazine allows me to dive deeper into a number of niche topics that would not otherwise get attention from mainstream media outlets but can deliver value — professional and personal — tailored to my readership. My job tasks change regularly as the industry I serve evolves and as our publishing needs change (print to all-digital), but I enjoy helping my team members achieve their editorial goals and produce articles that help security professionals mitigate risks, stop crime and save lives.

IG: What do you see as the benefits of working in B2B versus traditional or consumer media? Do you believe there are more or better opportunities in B2B than B2C?

CM: B2B publishing enabled me to stretch my skills in almost every area of magazine publishing, from editing and writing to design consultation, website management, SEO and metrics, value generation, multimedia, and more. This “jack of all trades” type of work makes B2B journalists incredibly marketable, ensuring that they can hit the ground running in many different roles. B2B journalism also forces writers to look at previously unconsidered fields or audiences, which teaches them to ask unexpected questions, search out new angles, and always write with a specific reader in mind, instead of writing for the broadest possible consumer base.

Consumer media is facing major shake-ups right now, in terms of staffing models. This puts incoming journalists in difficult positions, often facing low salaries and uncertain job prospects. B2B publications are used to working with slim teams, but they are relatively well paid and stable positions that produce multifaceted editors and writers who can put those skills to good use in their future careers.

IG: What are the biggest pain points in B2B media right now? What do you think students should consider when pursuing a career in media today?

CM: Some of the biggest pain points are publishing questions: What to do when the advertising dries up or changes tactics? Static business models are bound to fail today, even in the most conservative and solid industries. Editors will need to lend their creativity and enterprising minds to publishers’ efforts to find new business models, whether that means embarking into multimedia, digital publishing and reporting, or helping develop microsites on topics that can entice advertising — all while safeguarding the ethical boundary between editorial and sales. It’s a tough line to walk.

For students pursuing a career in media, I would recommend looking for publications that cover topics you either never considered before or that spark a new interest. That sense of discovery and curiosity is invaluable, especially in B2B media. What may have seemed a dry or boring topic at first glance could result in an outstanding story if you approach it with an open mind and open-ended questions.

Maddy RyleyMadison Ryley

Managing Editor, Trade Show Executive
Trade Show Executive Media Group (Chicago)

IG: What led you to a career in B2B media? What do you like most about your current role?

Madison Ryley (MR): I realized I was interested in B2B media when I took a course at the University of Missouri focused on business reporting. It was interesting to learn about all of the public records, financial reports and filings that are available, and even more exciting to see just how many stories were in those documents. I ended up focusing on covering local businesses while in Columbia, Mo., and when I was searching for internships, I really homed in on B2B publications in Chicago. I always knew that’s where I wanted to live post-grad and thought an internship here would get my foot in the door for the opportunity to make that happen. Through my internship at Trade Show Executive Media Group, I discovered the exciting trade show and exhibitions world and have been working at the company ever since.

What I like most about my current role is that there is so much variety to what I do. From print to digital to helping organize our own events, I am constantly learning new skills that I don’t think I would anywhere else. Because the trade show industry is global, I also get the opportunity to travel, which has always been a passion of mine, so I really am getting to combine all of my favorite things — writing, travel and business — in my career. I also get to meet so many interesting people who really keep the industry moving forward, so it’s a constant learning experience.

IG: What do you see as the benefits of working in B2B versus traditional or consumer media? Do you believe there are more or better opportunities in B2B than B2C?

MR: Sometimes I think people view B2B media as being very niche depending on what industry you cover, and in some ways, it is, but in others, it really allows you to dig into the intricacies of the businesses you cover to find how much impact the industry makes on other sectors. It didn’t take long for me to realize that in covering the trade show industry, I would also be covering marketing and sales approaches, event technology, financial filings, economic updates, M&A activity, destination offerings and so much more. It’s really made for a more well-rounded look at the world.

When it comes to comparing B2B and B2C, I think both offer great opportunities, and it really just depends on what you are interested in. I had great experiences at B2C outlets, but I find myself more drawn to B2B. Since B2B tends to be more industry specific, there are lots of opportunities to travel and meet people from all over, which isn’t always the case at more regional or city-specific outlets, whether those be B2B or B2C. I think the main thing is, you should always go with what makes you happiest to show up for, learn about and create.

IG: What are the biggest pain points in B2B media right now? What do you think students should consider when pursuing a career in media today?

MR: I think students or anyone who is pursuing a career in media today should consider what they really are passionate about. Media is one of those industries where it never really stops; there’s always going to be news, no matter what you cover. It’ll benefit you, personally and professionally, to find a place where you’re passionate about the topics and people you’re covering, because in a lot of ways, you’re going to be immersed in that world day in and day out. You know what they say, “If you love what you do, you never work a day in your life,” and it’s very possible to embody that phrase.

Courtney BubléCourtney Bublé

Reporter, Law360
Portfolio Media, Inc. (Washington, D.C.)
2022 Young Leader Scholar

IG: What led you to a career in B2B media? What do you like most about your current role?

Courtney Bublé (CB): I had a pretty entry-level job my first year out of college at NBC News. It was mid-Trump administration, so the news cycle was insane. I learned a lot. I made really good friends. I had really good experiences. I worked around the clock. 

After a year of that, I got a job with Government Executive, which is a trade publication that focuses on the federal government, the federal workforce, the federal agencies. I did a lot of coverage of federal oversight — what inspectors general are doing, what Congress is looking into. It covered the pandemic response, the federal prison system. A little bit of everything. I did that for just under four years, which also was a really good experience. I learned a lot. 

Earlier this summer, I started with Law360, which is a legal newswire. I’m the congressional reporter. Within that, I cover judicial nominees, legislation oversight at the intersection of Congress and DOJ/the courts. I’m new, so I’m still figuring things out. But that’s been my trajectory thus far.

I have really loved the last eight years now, covering government, covering things that affect people’s lives every day. For example, at my last job, I was covering things frontline workers were dealing with [during the pandemic], or oversight of government funds. When I took my current job, I liked that I was still covering government. [My current role] is a little bit different, focusing more on the judiciary and Congress. But I’m a total news junkie. It just fascinates me.

IG: What do you like about working for a trade publication versus a more traditional news outlet?

You could do great journalism in both, but with a trade publication, you often get to really become an expert in topics and get to do some great in-depth reporting. And the audience that you’re writing for is very into that one subject. [Trade publications are] good if you really want to own a specific beat. That’s been my experience.

IG: What should a journalism student or recent grad consider when deciding what type of media job to take?

CB: If you’re still in college, I would highly recommend working for your student paper. I did that for three years, and it was the best thing I did in college. I got so much experience that way, and that solidified that I wanted to actually go into journalism. And I started covering student government-related issues, which led to me then covering government and politics. 

Then see what you’re passionate about, but also don’t be afraid to take on something new. There are so many publications out there.

It can be daunting, taking on a new beat. But if you go in with fresh eyes, that’s actually beneficial because you don’t have any biases. You’re like a sponge absorbing information.

Obviously journalism is a tough industry. But it’s great to see the publications that are thriving, that cover so many different topics, for all backgrounds and interests — there’s a publication for everything.

Isabelle Gustafson

Isabelle Gustafson is the senior editor for Club + Resort Chef, a WTWH Media magazine. She has a Bachelor of Journalism from the Missouri School of Journalism with a focus in magazine editing, minors in Spanish and psychology and a Certificate in Multicultural Studies. Gustafson studied in Spain, received her TEFL Certification in Peru and taught English in South Korea. She is a member of the International Foodservice Editorial Council (IFEC) and the American Society of Business Publication Editors (ASBPE). In 2023, she was granted ASBPE’s Young Leader Scholarship.

Please share this page with your friends and colleagues.