What you need to know before you do any advertising

  • Izzy PR - Public Relations

Advertising is a great way to get across a controlled message to your audience allowing you to say exactly what you want (within reason!), to whom you want. But when you’re paying for the space, it’s doubly important to make sure the investment is worth it.

There might be occasions where you struggle to place your news in the media due to a busy or competing news agenda, lack of space or, unfortunately, it just might not capture journalists’ interest in the way you’d hoped.

So before booking any advertising space, whether print, digital or broadcast, here are the questions you must ask:

  1. Is your target audience reading this publication?

Are they listening?
Are they watching?

When considering a title, ask their team for details about the audience demographics – how old they are, their income, where they live, for example. If you’re a trendy hairdressing salon in Bristol, a magazine mostly read by pensioners in the South East is probably not going to drum up much business for you!

Don’t be dazzled by big names, either. We’ve worked with businesses who have taken up offers of space in big national publications under the assumption that featuring in a prestigious title will be great for business. However, if your services are only available in your local area, the percentage of potential clients among that readership will be tiny – in contrast to the fee which will likely be huge!

Quite simply, if the title’s audience doesn’t closely match your client profile, don’t waste your money.
Keep asking until you get all the information you need to ensure your target audience will see your advertising and don’t part with a penny until you are sure.

  1. What’s the circulation/listener/viewing figures?
    A simple but important question – if you have limited budget, it makes sense to use it where it will have the greatest reach BUT bigger is not necessarily better when it comes to circulation.
    The important thing is that your advertisement is seen by the biggest proportion of your target audience as possible.

Also, if it’s a digital or printed publication, ask how it is distributed. Subscription titles will be emailed or posted directly to subscribers and the title will have specific data on its readers. Free titles that are handed out or left at busy locations to be collected may be read by a wider audience that doesn’t as closely match your target. Plus it will be harder to record how effective a campaign in one of those is. Harder, but not impossible.

Generally speaking, any title that is paid for is more likely to reach its intended target audience as readers make more considered choices when a cost is involved. This doesn’t mean, however, that free publications do not have insights into their reader profile or well-researched figures and data on their readers, so always ask.

  1. What’s the readership?

Circulation and readership are often confused but they’re not the same thing. Circulation is the number of copies of a title that are actually distributed. Readership refers to the number of people who actually read it, and for every magazine sold, that could be four readers, for example. So their readership figure will be four times their circulation figure.

For example, you buy a magazine, take it home and your friend and daughter read it too. That’s one copy added to the circulation but three to the readership.

  1. Will the advert be featured online?
    You might assume that paying for printed space will mean your advert is included online too but this is not always the case. In fact, online adverts can often be more expensive than in print as the traffic is greater than the print circulation so it’s wise to try to strike a deal.
  2. How big are their social media platforms and what’s their engagement?
    If the title has a website or is digital only, ask whether your story will feature on their social media – this could potentially add thousands to the number of people who will see it.

Check how many followers they have – if it’s tiny, then it might not be worth it – unless that tiny audience is well engaged.

High engagement figures are important – this indicates the publication’s content is resonating with their audience and that it has a strong online community. Far better to advertise with a title with a smaller following that interacts with its content, than one with thousands of passive followers.

  1. When does the next edition come out?

Keep in mind that some titles work very far ahead. Monthly publications have the longest lead times – around four months in advance. This is longer for their Christmas editions, which are usually being tied up in July/August!

Also, editions of monthly titles will often appear on shelves in the month preceding that of the one on the cover – i.e. August’s edition will be on sale in July. Always check exactly when your advert will appear – the last thing you want to do is pay to publicise an event that has been and gone by the time your advert comes out, or leaves people with no time at all to buy a ticket.

  1. Does the advertising team have your best interests at heart?

Any reputable ad salesperson will be focused on working with brands that are a good fit with the title, ensuring interesting content for the reader and an uplift in sales or awareness for the business.

Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Some are simply interested in hitting their monthly targets and are less concerned about whether their publication is the most suitable for you.

Check out the title before you pay for any space. If the adverts seem inconsistent with the target audience, be wary of parting with any cash!

The best approach is to scope out advertising space as you would any other purchase for your business – is it good value and is it likely to give you the best return on investment?

Of course, having a nose for a great story, crafting it into a well-written press release and knowing which media to target is a sure-fire way to increase the chances of your news being featured editorially.

If you’d like help with achieving media coverage and supporting it with well-placed adverts, drop us a line on hello@izzypr.co.uk