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Editorial vs Advertorial: Understanding the PR difference

Many businesses believe that as long as your brand is mentioned in the media, it’s just as valuable no matter how it got there. Content is content, right? Wrong. 

Bill Gates, business magnate, philanthropist and outspoken advocate for the benefits of employing a good public relations agency, famously said: “If I was down to the last dollar of my marketing budget, I would spend it on public relations!”

So, what is the PR difference? An advertisement is paid-for space on a page or platform that is clearly there to sell a product or service. Unlike a traditional advertisement, an advertorial presents itself as editorial. However, it will typically be labelled as paid-for content to avoid misinterpretation. 

Studies have found that consumer confidence in advertorial copy is relatively low. One study by Contently, for example, found that 54 percent of readers don’t trust sponsored content. 

Editorial content, on the other hand, features in a publication and expresses the opinion of the editor, writer or expert in the field relating to topical news or relevant subject matter. 

Paid space simply isn’t as valuable in terms of consumer engagement as editorial that features your brand. In fact, editorial is proven to be worth three times more than the cost of advertising space. 

How do you get into that space? First, determine what you want to showcase about your business ‒ whether that’s a great product that meets a demand, an expert opinion on topical news, statistics you want to share with the world, or whatever makes you stand out. 

Second, you need a good public relations agency to guide you through this process and ensure your voice is heard in the right places. This isn’t about punting your brand in the editorial space as if it was advertorial. It’s about showcasing your ideas in a thought leader space, pitching you as a pro in the know. 

Your chosen agency will create a content calendar for you that highlights your business in a variety of ways across a range of targeted media platforms. 

Additionally, the fee you pay your public relations agency gets you a lot more bang for your buck than purchasing ad space. On top of the value gained from featuring in reputable top-tier media, agencies offer a range of services that benefit business. For example, media training will guide you through how to expertly carry yourself through big presentations, press conferences, live television interviews and more. 

When things go sideways (a sudden global pandemic springs to mind), crisis communications can be the difference between panicking and getting your message wrong or navigating treacherous waters smoothly ‒ and maybe even getting some good press in the process. 

Social media strategy will help you drive engagement across a range of platforms, building your online presence and reaching your target audience on a larger scale. 

Ultimately, running your business should be your concern while public relations professionals handle your media presence. 

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