Advertorials are advertisements disguised to look like news or features. Many magazines sell advertorials, filling pages with what looks like an article but is really an ad. Magazines love these because they increase the content of a magazine but, more importantly, they increase revenue. Advertisers love advertorials because they aren't blatant ads. They look like an endorsement by the magazine. In writing an advertorial, you not only have to produce quality writing, you have to please a customer.
- Skill level:
Other People Are Reading
Things you need
- Notepad or digital voice recorder
- Computer with word processor and Internet access
Pretend. Even if you don't love, or care, for the product, or service, you are describing, you have to pretend that you do. Ads must be believable and compelling and move quickly to point out the positives of the product. Interview the customer. Inform him that this is his advertisement and it can say whatever he wants. Many business owners, when interviewed by a writer, clam up and hesitate because of nervousness. They don't want to be misquoted or sound stupid or they are intimidated. Of course, not all customers are like this. Some are the exact opposite: Cantankerous, difficult and obnoxious. Either way, assure the customer you will not make him look stupid or misquote him. The advertisement is designed to make the customer look good.
Ask the customer what he wants the focus to be. For some reason, customers have difficulty with that question and don't know what specifically to say. Just try variations of the same question: "If a reader only takes one thing away from this article about your business, what do you want that to be?"
Forget being creative. When writing the advertorial, don't try to be super creative. This is ad writing. Keep it simple. Like any article, the focus needs to be at the beginning and then elaborate as you go. Basic AP style is the norm for most magazines and all newspapers.
Be aware that, depending on the publication, conclusions are not always necessary. In journalistic style, conclusions are frowned upon; however, magazine writing is different. Read the publication's previous issues and advertorials to find the magazine's style. If other writers use conclusions, throw one on there. If not, stop writing when you pen the last important detail. Finish the advertorial with contact information, store hours and website, if applicable.
See the results. Every publication is different but most allow customers one proof, before pubication, after the article is written and the ad is composed. Generally speaking, this is not up to you. If you are freelancing, your only duty is to interview the customer, write the article, and submit it on time to the editor. The editor or ad rep will then take care of the proof. During the interview, if the customer asks if he'll see a proof--and he most likely will--say, "I'm just the writer. You'll have to speak with your ad rep." Some customers will ask you to e-mail them a copy of your article before you send it to the editor. This is entirely up to you. But don't do it. Many customers will nit pick every minute detail and attempt to rewrite the article, thus doubling the amount of time it takes you to complete the advertorial. If the customer is worried about quotes, take the time during the interview to take exact quotes that the customer is happy. Don't work backwards.
Tips and warnings
- Some advertorials work well featuring clients of the customer. A short intro about a client's experience with the product, or service, works well to describe the product through a "neutral" source. Fictionalising these clients is also a common practice, although it is often noticeable.
- You are the middle man when writing an advertorial. To the customer, you represent the publication. To your editors, you represent the customer--to an extent. Technically, the advertising rep or account executive is the customer's representative, but some ad reps only focus on the sale. Once they sell the ad, they move on to sell the next ad. The customer puts his faith in you to represent his business as he wants it represented, not as you see it or as it truthfully is, but as the customer is paying to have it represented.