Advertorials are not the enemy

In the new world of native advertising, quality content is more important than ever. It needs to be relevant to specific audiences and fit in seamlessly alongside editorial, says Trinity Mirror Solutions' Samantha Cope

Advertorials are not the enemy, argues Sam Cope
Advertorials are not the enemy, argues Sam Cope
Just as it's the purpose of editorial to spark debate and inform, so too should branded content. 

Advertorials were once treated with disdain and not given the time nor attention to look good and read well. 

However that has changed in recent years and it's now an incredibly exciting time as commercial content ups its game and truly competes with editorial.

As a journalist – former editor of the Sunday People’s supplement Love Sunday – I don't view my job on the advertising floor any differently from my previous editorial roles. At the heart of every good piece of content is audience understanding.

Just as I used to advise PR on what would work for our audience, I now advise my clients on what makes our audience, the modern mass market we call Modal Britain – the people there are 'most of' in society – tick. I try to make sure we create and serve content that appeals to them in a way that adds value to their lives, whether that's in a light-hearted or meaningful way. 

When we're creating commercial campaigns, I always ask: is this interesting, informative or entertaining? 

If not, it doesn't make the cut, in the same way editors throw out ideas at their daily conference. 
As we walk the tightrope between editorial and clients, if a content idea damages the editorial integrity of our newsbrands, it's straight in the bin.

The struggle of balancing client needs and expectations with quality editorial content is something with which I know PR can empathise. 

Yet there is a reluctance for PR to be part of the advertorial process. PRs are in a unique position – they really understand both the needs of their client and those of the media. 

The resulting editorial might be paid for, but the process of it is just the same as creating PR-friendly content. 

The bonus is that the content that results has had thorough consultation from the people who know their audience best. If PRs and journalists are truly partners, surely collaborating on paid-for content is the next step forwards in the relationship.

Publishers are essentially hyper-informed readers, which means we're well positioned to advise brands on how their audiences want to see content.

That’s why we can play a fundamental role in helping PR professionals bring their clients’ stories to life. 

Samantha Cope is creative editorial director at Trinity Mirror Solutions

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