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Should Your Utility Consider Advertorials?

image credit: Illustration 212404421 © Iulian Dragomir |
Andy Gotlieb's picture
Editor of a specialty publication, former public relations practitioner Freelancer

I hold 34 years of experience in communications, mostly in journalism, with a decade in public relations, too.  The first 17 years were spent in print journalism, where I covered, at various...

  • Member since 2016
  • 1,004 items added with 508,502 views
  • Apr 27, 2021

There are lots of different ways to secure publicity for your utility.

You can get “free” publicity with successful public relations and/or skillful use of your social media channels and website.

You can pay for advertising, which is costly, although you do control the message.

Then there’s marketing, which is somewhere in between.

And even more in-between are advertorials, which have grown increasing popular in recent years and may have a place in your utility’s promotional efforts.

Advertorials are paid advertisements that are designed to look like to look like the regular content of the chosen media outlet. There’s generally some kind of distinction to indicate that it’s not unbiased content – a voiceover on a TV program (also known as an infomercial) or the words “paid content” on top of a newspaper ad for example.

Let’s focus on the print variety.

So, should your utility consider an advertorial? Maybe.

Remember that an advertorial might be expensive. Space comes at a premium.

And what do you want to say? You shouldn’t be writing about mundane topics such as the utility being honored or evergreen topics such as calling before digging.

Advertorials should be used to explain issues that are complicated, possibly controversial and require some in-depth discussion.

Some examples of weighty topics might include pandemic-related repayment issues, rate increases so you can use more green energy or the issues related to wildfire prevention and the associated costs

As for writing style, you’re going to have to adopt a journalistic style: You don’t want this to be a glorified press release or a dry white paper. Ideally, mirror the publication’s writing style.

Unless your advertorial is appearing in a trade publication, eliminate any industry jargon and write so the average reader can understand. The average newspaper is written at between the sixth- through 11th-grade level, so if you have some teenagers at home, run it by them and see if they understand what you’re saying.

Write using the “inverted pyramid” style. Put the most information in the advertorial’s lead, followed by the next-most-important thing. Information decreases in importance the deeper you go into your narrative.

The longer an article goes, the more people drop off. By having the key information up top, you’re most likely to get your main points across.

Paragraphs should be short and focus on a single idea. Keep them less than three sentences long in most cases.

Andy Gotlieb's picture
Thank Andy for the Post!
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