If you’re a die-hard editor, journalist or freelance writer, chances are you balk at the word “advertorial.” You know what basic advertorials are – they’re either a full page or half page of promotional copy facing a full-page ad or sitting over a half-page ad. You may feel like you’re a sell-out if you’re writing marketing or public relations copy, but guess what? Advertorial writing fees can really add up for you.
Usually, publishers use advertorials as a value-add to entice advertisers to buy into a particular issue of a magazine or newspaper, or a special section on say, fine wines or luxury travel destinations or freight forwarder services (depending on the industry). You’ll see advertorials in consumer and trade magazines, but quite often advertorials are trade magazines’ bread and butter, if done right.
Let’s take a look at a few types of advertorials:
Basic Advertorial The most basic advertorial is a full page (about 600 words) or half page (300 words) of copy about a company. It can include information about the company’s mission statement, executive team, facilities and locations, products and services, or any big company news (for example, a new facility, a new executive or a new product roll-out).
Advertorial Section A magazine that covers the shipping industry, for example, will probably include themed advertorials on its editorial calendar. Themes could include short-haul trucking, freight forwarding and Gulf ports. The special section is bound into the book, and usually has a cover, an article or two that runs throughout the section, and ads and corresponding promotional copy about the advertisers. As a freelancer, you’re responsible for writing the article, on say, innovations at Gulf ports (that will include talking to port executives) and probably writing or editing advertisers’ promotional copy.
Anniversary Specials If you’re at work in a certain niche like manufacturing or high-tech, you know there are large and small companies that are celebrating anniversaries all the time – one year, five years, 25 years and so on. Anniversary advertorials are quite nifty pieces, since they can get bigger as the number of advertisers increases. If they’re smaller, they may include one longer article about the featured company, or they may include four or five smaller articles about the company. The advertisers place ads congratulating the company on its anniversary, and usually get some promo room to talk about their partnership with the featured company.
Here are some tips for writing effective advertorials:
Write as if to a consumer audience.
Advertisers want their target audience to actually read (and learn from) the advertorial. If the language is very jargon-y or sounds like public relations fluff and manufactured quotes, the reader’s not likely to get past the first paragraph.
Know how to interview and research.
Many times an advertiser doesn’t have someone on staff who can (or has time to) produce 300 or 600 well-written words about the company. That’s where you come in. You’ll be expected to locate basic background information about a company on its Web site, and then talk with a company rep to find out how s/he wants the company to be presented in the advertorial, and what key points need to be included. Additionally, ask about the corporate culture since the company will want its “voice” conveyed through your writing.
Be prepared for rewrites.
You have two clients – the publication you’re writing for and the advertiser(s). It’s a strong possibility that an advertiser will request changes to the copy that will be passed back to you. Usually it’s not about the writing itself – it’s about the content or tone.
The most obvious way to garner advertorial work is to start with magazines that run advertorials already. Look at magazines you like and read, order sample copies of trade magazines in industries you coveror have coveredto see if they run advertorials, or call the advertising department to inquire whether they run advertorials — and if so, what types and how often.
But what if you know of only two or three magazines that run advertorials? It’s possible to successfully pitch your services to publishers that don’t run advertorials.
1) Become an expert on your target companies. Before pitching to anyone at a magazine or a publisher, visit the publisher’s Web site. Read about the company and the magazine. Request a media kit, which contains an editorial calendar to see what topics will be covered each month and if there are any editorial special reports or sections that could benefit from an advertorial component. Become familiar with the basic issues an industry’s dealing with so that you can talk intelligently about hot topics.
2) Find the right person to pitch to. Most likely, if a publisher doesn’t run advertorials, the editor of the magazine will brush off your pitches with”We don’t run advertorials and I don’t care.” However, look for the person in the marketing department who handles custom publishing projects or advertising supplements. If you’re pitching to a small staff, look for a special projects editor. If you reach a marketing person whose job it is to develop advertising-based pieces, she’s more likely to listen to you. Say, “I know you don’t do advertorials, but would you like to?”
3)Have three or four advertorial ideas ready. When do you make your pitch, pick three or four specific editorial topics and develop possible advertorial ideas. For example, if you’re pitching to the shipping industry and you see a special report on refrigerated cargo ships, pitch an advertorial section that features an article about the most unusual food-related cargoes different cargo lines have moved and how they dealt with the challenges; advertiserswould get short writeups about their refrigerated cargo services.
For good advertorial work, you can make up to 75 cents a word; or, if you’d rather charge for a package deal (say, a 1,000-word article and four 300-word promo blurbs), you could quote between $1,500 to $2,000.
Nicole Rollender is editor of two monthly magazines in the fashion industry. She recently had a poetry chapbook, Arrangement of Desire, published by Pudding House. Contact: nrollender – at – comcast.net.