If you can consistently, and on your own schedule, achieve positive editorial publicity by independent journalists in large-circulation media read by your current and potential clients, you’ll of course have achieved something equivalent to a marketing home run in the decisive World Series game. You’ll see business surge – and you won’t need to spend a cent for the publicity.
Of course, you can’t control the results, and certainly no salespeople will be calling you to help you along the way (other than, perhaps, public relations specialists who may be selling you a very hopeful dream, without much chance of actual success.)
On the other hand, you’ll certainly encounter plenty of salespeople offering to help you spend money on advertising and, to an increasingly common degree, advertorials — editorial-style advertising designed to make you look good.
We sell lots of these in our own business; advertorials are our revenue mainstay. The advertorials of course are in many ways better than conventional advertising. You look at the ad, see it as such, and give it very poor marks for credibility. If the publication where the advertorial appears has some ethics, readers will be able to distinguish the advertorials from the news-section content, of course, but the stories will still have enough look-and-feel to create a sincere aura. But they are not, nor ever will be, as effective as the real stuff — genuine editorial content determined and selected by the publisher because of its newsworthiness.
How can you achieve these results? Well, you need a compelling story, the ability to communicate it effectively, and the reputation/relationships to market the story to relevant media.
I’ve always taken the attitude that if someone is interested in publicity and wishes to use our advertorials (or advertising) as a medium, we should always be ready to help as much as possible in public relations/communications counselling so that the clients can achieve free positive editorial publicity in other media. (This is enlightened self-interest at work, of course; we make some money and ensure that our clients get results – but our competitors only get a “good story” they can publish in their (free) news sections.) That is why I am travelling across the province today to meet a client, to review the product/technology, write an advertorial — and then suggest how the story can be positioned or planted in the news sections elsewhere.
Perhaps fortunately for my time schedule, not many of our clients take advantage of this value-added service. If you are dealing with sales representatives marketing publicity/features in most publications, they will probably be happy to be content to just deliver their feature. The best value, of course, occurs when there are the extras. I’m hoping (but cannot guarantee) the client service initiative here will lead to a case study which we can examine and replicate.