After doing media training for decades one learns that every class is unique.
One class might be comprised of media veterans who are savvy about many of the nuances when working with the media. Another group might not be at the same level.
In both cases, a review of the basics is always a good idea.
As an example, you might “assume” that veteran businesspeople would clearly know the difference between advertising and editorial. (What is it they say about “assuming?” It’s true!)
However, even some savvy business folks will often remark, “Our competition says their prices are lower than ours and that is a lie the media keeps repeating.” When probed further it often is revealed they are quoting their competition’s paid ads. Journalists had nothing to do with it.
If you travel around important battleground states in this Presidential election you can see the dramatic difference between advertising and editorial media content. Hillary Clinton is flooding the airwaves with paid advertising and has an almost unlimited budget. Through her advertising, she can deliver her message exactly as she wants without any changes. She controls the exact message she wants the public to hear.
With advertising, you don’t have to give your opponent equal time. You paid for the air time, picked the time it will run and are no different than any other company pushing a product or service. Clinton gives selected media interviews (LINK) but avoids press conferences where it is much more difficult to control the message.
Clinton and her staff often hand-pick which media people she will permit to interview her. However, her massive ad spending goes directly to the bottom lines of the media corporations employing those journalists.
On the other hand, Donald Trump does not have the resources to buy advertising at nearly the same rate as Clinton so he must rely on editorial coverage to get his message out. According to NBC News (LINK), Clinton is outspending Trump by a 15-1 margin and has spent $75 million to his paltry $4 million.
While you don’t pay for editorial coverage, it can be extremely difficult to control your message. You also have to make your message unique and newsworthy or the news media will ignore you. It is said, “If a dog bites a man is not a story. If a man bites a dog it is a story.”
You also have to make your message unique and newsworthy or the news media will ignore you. As they say, “If a dog bites a man is not a story. If a man bites a dog then it is a story.”
That’s why through August Trump has conducted 17 press conferences to Clinton’s none (LINK). In addition, rather than choreographed speeches he often says newsworthy items the media are forced to cover. Press coverage of Trump has been brutal and he likely could get zero newspaper endorsements, but he uses the media effectively to get his message out directly to voters.
In most cases, editorial coverage is considered up to 8-10 times more believable than advertising. People know that advertisers can pretty much say what they want in their commercials. With editorial coverage the public expects the news media to provide balanced reporting so there is much more of a believability factor.
An old media maxim is “Advertising you pay for; editorial you pray for!”
There is no better example in history than the current Clinton vs. Trump campaign. It is her massive advertising spending vs. his editorial coverage. Only time will tell which is the most effective tactic.