• Advertorial Bill BRyantFor at least as long as I’ve been in advertising, press releases have long been classified as “free press.”  The danger of free press is that, sometimes, you get what you pay for.  You can do all the right things with your press release and it still may not get published—at least through the key media on which you were relying.

    One way to guarantee that your message gets in print (or an online outlet) is to pay to have the story published: an “advertorial.”  In our culture, the statement advertorial is often just an ad that buys a whole page but only uses part of it for a short message.  These often extravagant media buys, usually by celebrities or united activists, often get picked up by other media and fulfill their original intent—a publicity stunt.

    Publicity stunts work; they’re great for one-shot deals.  But if you’re looking to build your brand in the community, particularly an expert brand, journalistic advertorials can get your piece not only published but read.  Here are some tips on how to do that.

    Fill an Information Gap

    If you are properly nichéd, professionally trained, and/or personally connected to hot button issues, people will value your advice.  So, use your space to sell your knowledge more than your company.  People hire experts.  You will establish yourself as a source for answers, which later may grow into a source for solutions. You’re reading my biweekly advertorial right now.  Would you have read this far, if this were a commercial? Do your homework.  Then be prepared to wait a long time for a grade.

    Write (And Edit) Like a Writer

    If you want consideration from readers, you have to write like you value their time.  Use statistics and references; use quotations and accentuate them with “pull quotes.”  Check your grammar, or have a professional edit for you.  Sidebars with stats or charts give you that much more credence.  Look at the media’s current articles; mimic their approach.

    Half Full or Half Empty?

    You don’t always need full pages to get noticed.  You can create a themed article and pay for it to run at regular intervals.  Name yourself as the author, and design the space to look more like a sidebar or column.  Three third-page runs will get you more consumer interactions than one big kaboom.

    Reach Out and “E” Someone

    It can be expensive to rent space from your local newspaper or regional trade publication.  And you may be paying for readers you don’t need.  Many online sites invite expert contributors to their oligarchy of writers.  Some even allow free access to their visitors.  Email can allow you to regularly reinforce your brand to a targeted group of people already familiar with you and open to your company.  It’s usually cheaper than print, too.

    Seduce the Unsuspecting

    Draw people into your stories the way that newspapers do: use large, interesting images and captivating headlines.  Make sure stock photos concretely (not abstractly) relate and that company photos are professionally shot and/or digitally enhanced.  Get multiple eyes proofing your prominent text; you don’t want to end up on Monday night Leno.

    Your message doesn’t need be contained to you, your competitors, and people hiding in the restroomat work.  Hone it.  Enhance it.  If you believe enough in it, pay to publish it yourself.


    Examples of client advertorial designed by publication and by biplane productions available upon request.

    Taking it Personally

    I’m not a regular country music listener, but I love Tim McGraw’s twangy song that became the theme song for CMT’s “Trick My Truck.”

    “How Bad Do You Want It?” is one of my life theme songs.  In the land of the American Dream, I motivate myself by questioning my will, my talent—even my success.  I sort my to do list and my life goals regularly, asking myself that very question, “How much do I want this?  Is [this] worth not having [that]?”

    Sometimes I have to say “no” to some pretty cool things, some fun pastimes, some lesser dreams.  But I know too many people paralyzed by the inability to choose which passion(s) to chase, which talent to exploit.  I don’t want to miss throwing a touchdown by waiting too long to decide between two open receivers.

    I use my unwritten obituary as a sieve, as well as my life mission statement—among other things.  As a writer and a live-er, I realize that I will sometimes (if not often) have to pay—financially, emotionally, and physically—to impact others with the intrinsic message and lesser statements of my life.  Thankfully, like advertorials for business, those costs are outbalanced by the reward.

    Stock image(s) used by permission through purchase from iStockPhoto.com ©2008
    This entry was posted on Wednesday, November 5th, 2008 at 1:30 pm and is filed under Adverpreneur, Marketing Tools. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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