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Oil of Olay is the perfect example of the benefits of well-written and designed advertorials. Image via People Magazine.

As a newspaper journalist, I’ve written many an advertorial in my day. I’ve also written many an editorial for an advertising client.

They’re called “plugs” and while neither is genuine editorial, they certainly have a place in print and online publications as a means to promote the goods and services of businesses in an informative and interesting way.

So what’s the difference between an advertorial and an editorial – and what are their benefits to your business?


As the name suggests, an advertorial is a cross between an ad and editorial (ie a news story). The best ever example of an advertorial is the Oil of Olay pieces that have run in newspapers and magazines since Moses was a lad. And seriously, who doesn’t think Oil of Olay when someone says “moisturiser”?

In fact, those advertorials have become a part of Australian pop culture.

Below is another example of an advertorial.

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This is what an advertorial looks like. Note the word “Advertisement” in the top right-hand corner.

So what makes it an advertorial?

  1. The word “Advertisement” at the top.
  2. The fonts used are always different to the “genuine” news stories.
  3. The client has bought the space – just as they buy the space for an ad.
  4. The client controls the wording, images and design.

What are the benefits?

  1. You own the space, so you completely control it.
  2. Because you’ve paid for the space, you’re guaranteed that it will appear.
  3. Because an advertorial “looks” like a story, it gains credibility in the minds or readers.
  4. It allows you to give more details than an advertisement.

What are the drawbacks?

  1. You have to write or provide the copy. (This can be time-consuming, stressful and risky if you don’t have a particularly good grasp of spelling, grammar and punctuation.)
  2. Journos can very rarely be prevailed upon to write or edit the copy for you.


Editorials are published in the editorial section of the paper. They are entirely at the discretion of the editor – unless the advertising manager has pulled a swifty and convinced management to compel the editor to publish it. (Or it’s a huge client, who spends a lot of advertising dollars and management wants to keeps them happy – and spending!)

Editors guard every column centimetre of their paper or magazine like a dragon guards its hoard of gold. (I’ve had editors who resembled dragons in many other ways as well. Ah, how I miss the old days!)

There are two ways you can score an editorial:

  1. You’re a regular advertiser and a special advertising feature comes up where stories about relevant businesses are needed to complement the ads.
  2. You have a genuine news story that deserves to be told. What constitutes genuine news? That’s the subject of another blog entirely.

What are the benefits of editorial?

  1. It’s free.
  2. Editorial carries with it the weight of authority. Readers subconsciously consider the story to be of genuine importance – not an attempt to sell them something.
  3. You don’t have to write the copy. In fact, you’re not allowed to. A reporter will be assigned to write the story. They will either interview you by phone (face-to-face is, sadly, the stuff of a bygone era) or send you some questions via email.
  4. It’s a chance to form a relationship with the reporter and/or editor. If you’re nice to deal with, they may remember you next time they need an “expert” from your industry to quote for a news story. You could find your name and that of your business, popping up in lots of stories – thus building your credibility with potential clients and boosting your image.

What are the drawbacks of editorial?

  1. You don’t get to dictate anything about the story. When and where it appears (if at all) is entirely at the discretion of the editor and available space. You also don’t get to approve the story – so don’t ever ask! Would you tell your dentist how to pull teeth? Then don’t tell a journo how to write.

Above all, remember that advertorials and editorials are great marketing tools that, used effectively, can boost your sales or clientele.

Want to know more?

Contact me and I’ll be happy to talk.

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