So you are in search of free publicity and want to let the public know that you’re in the marketplace – that your goods/services/ product are ever so useful and worth paying for?
No one knows who came up with the following chunk of statistical intelligence but secretly it has always been common knowledge in newspaper and broadcasting offices: Namely, Editorial has seven times the impact of advertising.
Understandably, ad reps have kept this a deathly secret from their punters because they don’t want to lose revenue on sale of space or time. But the truth is out: It’s a matter of trust.
Think about it. Whatever claims are made in a panel advertisement must be subjective. In other words you would glorify your better widget, wouldn’t you? Why should the public naively concur? On the other hand, editorial which objectively concludes that your widget is a new wonder of the world, is far more readily accepted.
That is why media advertising departments crudely point out when you go in search of free publicity that they have a midway solution – dubbed ‘Advertising Feature‘.
While the advantage is that you have much more control over what is said in these homilies to your genius product compared with genuine columns, the serious flaw is that generally these advertising-editorial hybrids are clearly labelled ‘Advertiser’s Announcement’.
This banishes any pretence at impartiality or conclusions reached in a balanced and objective way. Most newspapers (on-line or off-line) worth their salt clearly prefer to draw that sharp distinction between the veracity of their journalists and advertising which, ironically, pays their wages.
OK, so I’ve convinced you? Free editorial is better than paid-for space or time. So how do you go in search of free publicity and get to appear in the editorial columns or earn a gratis mention on the radio/TV/social networks?
I repeat – one major risk as part of the trade-off to getting free publicity via editorial, is that you lose control over what actually appears. Journalists jealously guard their independence and that includes the freedom to prove that your widget is rubbish or that, perhaps, its design is conducive to sticking in infants’ throats. Public interest, see?
But given that you’re confident in the safety and effectiveness of your wares, I’ll explain in Part 2 of this blog how to work your way into the magic editorial columns.
Key Learning Points: Editorial is the best publicity and costs nothing if you can get it. But control over what journalists write and say is not in your hands. Be very careful about the costs and actual impact of the ‘Advertising Feature’.