How to Make Advertorial Work

In today’s TWO MINUTE PR TIP we look at how you can use advertorial as a tactical PR tool and get your target audience to read it without even realising it’s a paid-for feature.

1. What is advertorial?

Advertorial is a cross-over between paid-for-space advertising and editorial. It’s used mostly for the written word rather than graphics.

2. But people hate advertorial

Yes. Mostly they do. But that’s only because its usually badly executed and it “looks” like advertorial – so people instantly dismiss it. And that’s before they even see the tiny type at the top which says “Advertisement feature” or similar.

3. Common mistakes

Because advertorial is based on paid-for space, people usually approach it with their “advertising heads” on. Or they get their Ad Agency to do it.

This leads to several unforgivable horrors:

  • They display the company logo. That’s 80 per cent of readers immediately switched off.
  • They or the Ad Agency produce the artwork themselves in a significantly different style to the magazine itself:
    • Two columns instead of four
    • Different font
    • Different line spacing
    • That’s successfully warded-off another ten per cent of readers.
  • And for final confirmation that this is pure propaganda they write the copy in advertising style or brochure-speak.

That’s it. Your advertorial is dead in the water.  It just cost you a fortune and nobody read it.

So here’s how to do it successfully!

4. Write it for the reader, just like PR

Your target reader is viewing his or her magazine or website because they like they style and quality of the content it gives them. Respect their needs!

First, even though the information you want to deliver is not news per se, you can and must deliver it in the form of a “great to read” piece of high quality journalism. (I would always recommend having a professional journalist to write it as we do for everything).

Wrap your story up within an informative article about an industry issue which will interest them – and to which your product/service/company is the ideal solution.

The headline and first 200 words must captivate the reader so well that they don’t even notice the small print; “Advertisement feature” at the top.

(Very occasionally you can persuade the publisher to leave the “Advertisement feature” small print out if the editor agrees the copy is “editorially sound”. But this doesn’t happen often).

If you’ve captivated your reader well enough, then even if they do notice the “advertisement feature” small print, they’ll carry on reading: Because it’s a good read!

5. Make it NOT stand out

You don’t want the reader to realise this is a paid-for-advertisement immediately, if at all.

So make it look EXACTLY like every other editorial feature in the magazine.

Ideally, get the magazine to typeset it and give them the same quality of supporting photographs you would with an editorial feature

If you have to get your Ad or design agency to do the artwork, make sure they do a specific artwork for EACH different magazine and that it is indiscernible from the magazine’s norm.

6. That’s all

It really is as simple as that.

And if you do it this way it really is highly effective.

It’s expensive, of course – so reserve this technique for special and highly important occasions.

But do stick rigidly to these guidelines. It’s so easy to do advertorial badly – and that takes it from “hero to zero”.

Make well executed advertorial your secret hero!