An Advertorial is a marketing tool, written like an article that you would read in any newspaper or magazine, except it is only about you and your company or product. There is no second opinion! Despite the presentation and content seeming to be a news article, the advertorial is YOUR story told in YOUR own way.
Editorial Vs. Advertorial
Since the publication where you submit an editorial has control over what is printed, the article or editorial is printed on the whim of the editor. It is chosen because it is interesting and newsworthy.
Certain uninteresting parts may be omitted, and other, more newsworthy sections may be covered in greater detail. The publication has control over what they want published. That’s the reason why many companies send generic press releases and pitch them to multiple publications – to play the odds that someone, somewhere, may find this news worthy of publication.
On the other hand, an advertorial is actually an advertisement that is paid by the company for submission although it is subtle since the presentation and content does seem like a newsworthy story instead of an advertisement. It attracts or induces potential customers to the company paying for the advertorial.
Some may argue that the publication loses its objective credibility by printing and accepting payment for obviously biased company messaging. However, companies are always looking for new and creative ways to spread their message and to expand their market segment, and advertorials are a great way for them to garner publicity. If you look at it as an ad – albeit camouflaged – then it’s not damaging to the publication’s credibility – it’s just ad.
The best way to describe this marketing tool is that an advertorial is a piece of advertising made to look like content.
Compared to most advertisements, the advertorial needs a different tone. It has to be less promotional and more “newsy.” Basically an advertorial is an ad that’s written to look and sound like an editorial.
With any typical advertisement, you aim for the ad to jump off the page. But with an advertorial, you want the ad to sort of blend in, just as if it’s just another article.
It can be difficult for many writers to switch from a promotional tone to a more newsy tone which is why there is a 7 step process listed below to help you grasp the concept of writing an advertorial.
Seven Steps to Writing an Advertorial
Step 1: Start brainstorming the product to help you find ideas for your storyline. When you’re able to know a product inside and out – its features, benefits and modes of utilization – you are better able to fit it into an everyday context.
Step 2: Choose your everyday setting for your storyline. It’s best to use ideas and surroundings that your audience is familiar with. As an example, if you are selling a new cleaning detergent, you may want to set your story
in either the kitchen or garage in a home where the home’s residents would typically find themselves cleaning.
Step 3: Go ahead – don’t hesitate to include action and dialog into your story. People tend to remember things in different ways because of different learning styles. Because of this, the well-written and effective advertorial must be multi-dimensional and appeal to the visual as well as the auditory learner.
Step 4: Ensure that your advertorial has a beginning, middle and an end just as a story does. Even though an average advertorial is a little less than 800 words, that doesn’t mean there is no logical sequence of events that can’t be concluded. An easy way to remember this is that a complete story is easier to remember than an unfinished thought.
Step 5: Keep a ten- foot pole between you and discussing the price of the product and other topics that the reader might consider out of context or out of character for the particular publication. For instance, when writing an advertorial, don’t come up with a catchy jingle or write overt marketing “buzz words”. The idea of an advertorial is its editorial nature, meaning that contact information such as a website discreetly noted at the end of the story has much more appeal than “MBA-talk”.
Step 6: Remember to include and explain complex product details within the storyline. Even though an advertorial entertains while it informs, complicated products may require a lot more attention than others. Understanding the features as well as seeing their benefits is VERY important to a customer.
Step 7: Take case studies and testimonials into consideration as support for documentation to the storyline.
Remember that when an advertorial is written well, it will bring in a lot of money for you or your client, thus increasing the demand for your writing. A poorly written advertorial will fizzle and flop, and you will be as forgotten as the ineffective piece.
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