This week’s Celebrity Apprentice introduced a term that not all of America is familiar with: Advertorial. It’s especially relevant with many current conversations regarding how to get paid in blogging. So, totally upfront, here are a few opportunities in blogging.
This is a paid advertisement but written in the style of the publication. In a magazine sense (as should have been done in episode 3 of the 2010 season of The Celebrity Apprentice), it’s an ad that blends so well into its’ magazine’s pages that the reader would think it was written by the staff of the magazine for the readership to enjoy. Except it has the word “Advertisement” at the top of the page. In blogger speak, it’s a post that’s written in the same style as the blog posts, but it was written by the advertising company or the product’s company.
A sponsored post is a paid post, but it was written by the blog’s author. It likely fully supports the product or service because the post was paid for, though often it is written about a topic that ties the blog and the product. Sponsored posts are often written as biased posts, and that’s fine and expected.
An editorial post (paragraph, story, etc.) that is not paid for and represents the writer’s feelings and opinions about a product. Bloggers should write about items and experiences they have enjoyed (or not) firsthand.
A paid item appears on your blog. An advertisement on your blog is the same as an advertisement in any media. The company pays to play. They produce the image or design. The difference between an advertorial and an advertisement is that an advertorial has an editorial effect: it looks and reads more as journalism, whereas an advertisement is focused more on graphics, images, and catchphrases.
In all cases, the amount of payment is left for the blogger to determine based on your blog and your standards. You own your blog. You set your limits.
Advice for bloggers and marketing professionals
- A non-biased review should not be a paid review. Media ethics come into play, and your readership will doubt your honesty if it is paid.
- An Advertorial (which the company provides copy) or a Sponsored Post (where you provide a copy) should be paid.
- Consider your brand when accepting items to review. I have had a great discussion about this with several other bloggers, and I see the point raised around the scope of bloggingadvisors. Review items that you truly believe in. Items you are proud to see on your blog. Its very, very, very tempting to want to grab grab grab the freebies and the money that can come in. (I know this first hand.) But you have to consider yourself first and foremost. If you start reviewing products and talking about things you don’t believe in, you’re no longer supporting yourself, your blog, or your readership. You’re losing respect all around.
- Additionally, keep in mind that many companies ask you to review a product or website without providing a product for you to review. Some bloggers will do that. Here’s the problem: what are you really reviewing? How can you discuss or provide feedback or input on something you do not experience? They are asking you to talk about a product based on an image. Or a website based on viewing it. How can you describe an experience, back it up, and recommend it to your loyal readers without tactical knowledge? In these cases, I recommend expressing that you either need a product to review (in order to review it) or suggest they write and pay for an advertorial. If they aren’t interested, they likely won’t respond. And that’s their problem. Not yours. Do you really want to squeeze all over something or someone that has no respect for you?
- I’m a former PR agent with a degree in Public Relations. I recognize that PR=free press. But. There is a time and a place where it is appropriate. And another time and place where paid marketing and advertising must be recognized.
- Public Relations is great. And when you receive a pitch that you totally believe in and can stand by, go for it. Toss it up there on your blog. Just make sure it’s worth your time and effort to post it.
- Recognize, too, that not all PR agents have a full understanding of Marketing and Advertising. Do not ignore them. Offer, instead, to guide them. Their understanding will enable our community. It will also offer you a key relationship for your future.
- Always write with your heart. Always recognize your brand. Always, always, always support yourself with your honesty. Companies that can’t respect you enough to provide you support don’t respect your brand. Do you really want to represent that on your blog?
In my dreams, The Celebrity Apprentice (or next year’s Apprentice) will do an episode, or several, about blogging. Create a blog and explore the options in social media. Create a word-of-mouth campaign for XYZ products using the realms of social media. We want viral links! We want giveaways! We want a YouTube video. We want product reviews! We want the moms who make 80% of household buying decisions to know about our product. Find normal Brand Ambassadors. Create a blogging team. Go!