The Atlantic Gives Niche Publishers a Free Case Study in How NOT to do Advertorial



Chris ware By Christopher Ware, Sr. Director of Business Development at NAIOP

About noon on January 14, The Atlantic posted a sponsored content page for The Church of Scientology.

No big deal, right?  Publications post sponsored content all the time.  Usually no one notices or cares.  The advertiser is happy to get its message out and the publisher is happy to get the revenue.

Only this time the whole thing backfired.  Blogs such as Gawker reported on it under the lovely headline, The Atlantic Is Now Publishing Bizarre, Blatant Scientology Propaganda as ‘Sponsored Content’”.

The controversy continued online, and soon The Atlantic took down the post, writing: “We have temporarily suspended this advertising campaign pending a review of our policies that govern sponsor content.”  The Washington Post ran a full article on the situation the next day and since this is the Internet, nothing is ever really taken offline.  You can view the content here.

Good idea, Bad idea

Good idea: boosting your bottom line with advertorial. Bad idea: running poorly-marked advertorial that doesn’t match your brand

Where did The Atlantic go wrong and how can we learn from their mistakes?

Lesson One – Content Matters:

As the Washington Post notes, “The lede of the piece was decidedly un-Atlantic.”

“2012 was a milestone year for Scientology, with the religion expanding to more than 10,000 Churches, Missions and affiliated groups, spanning 167 nations.”

“Un-Atlantic” is putting is mildly.  It reminded me of reading a press release from the official North Korean news agency.  And if you haven’t checked out the fine writing done by the KCNA, check it out – it’s great fun.

A competent ad rep should have called a time-out and told his client that the content isn’t going to work.  A good rep would have suggested alternative content – maybe something on the church’s community outreach programs, for example.

Lesson Two – Know your brand, know your advertisers

The Church of Scientology isn’t a stranger to controversy.  The advertising team at The Atlantic should have been aware that there are groups like Anonymous, the guys in Guy Fawkes masks, who track the activities of Scientology and are happy to let the world know about it.

I am not suggesting that advertisers should be rejected because they are controversial – I am saying that any content, be it traditional print or advertorial, coming from a potentially controversial source should be subject to an extra round of review.

Advertising should bring in revenue and do no harm your publication’s brand.  Ideally your advertisers should add value to your brand.  But in all cases, trading credibility for money is a bad deal.

Lesson Three – Advertorials must be clearly labeled as such

One of the biggest problems The Atlantic ran into was the content looked exactly like editorial content.  True, it had a box that said “Sponsored Content,” but one would be forgiven for missing it.  The font and format mirrored the editorial content exactly.

The Washington Post runs advertorial inserts, as they noted on their reporting on the controversy.  But the font and format are clearly different from what the Post uses.  And the words “Paid Advertising Supplement” appear prominently.  And as a result almost no one complains.

According to the Washington Post, the advertorial feature was taken offline around 11:30 p.m. the same day it was posted.  In its apology, The Atlantic said that it is “working very hard to put things right.”

What they have to do to “put things right” remains to be seen.  Refunding most if not all of the advertising money is a given.  Rebuilding trust with their readers may be harder.  And finding a way to make advertorials work – well, that’s something we all have to work on.  At least The Atlantic succeeded in showing us how not to do it.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com  Check it out!

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Ad Sales Pros – Give Prospects a Reason to Talk to You!!!



Carl LandauBy Carl Landau, Niche Media’s Grand Poobah Carl Landau, Super Nicheman!

All  ad sales people know it – the number one reason prospects don’t want to talk to you is because you want to talk about the dreaded “advertising word”. Don’t be so transparent. Anyone can try to sell advertising, but the great ad sales people have ideas that can really help their prospects.

Running an effective traditional advertising program is important, but what clients really want – and what makes you stand out as a resource – are creative ideas that can help them accomplish their marketing goals within their budget. This is particularly true of your small- and medium-sized clients that just don’t have a lot of marketing expertise.

If you get this right you will never get the cold shoulder from prospects again. Here are 5 key areas where you can really help your prospects  or offer creative solutions.

1. Driving web traffic: You need to become an expert in search engine optimization. At the very least know the SEO basics. So many prospects really need help with this, and it is an easy way to become a resource.

2. Social Media: Offer to run a short post on Facebook or Twitter about a product of theirs that your audience would be interested in to get the prospect interested in social media advertising.

3. Surveys & Research: Find out what your prospect wants to learn about your audience and run a short, 3-question survey to a part of your list.

4. Contests: Develop a contest for your client using your magazine and website as the launching pad (this is part of an ad program they will be buying).

5. Lead Generation: Help them develop a lead program using unique web landing pages and unique 800 numbers.

These are just a few ideas. Literally there are hundreds of creative ideas you can use. By becoming your prospects’ marketing guru you will gain their trust. They will want to take your phone calls and buy bigger advertising and sponsorship packages. It all starts by selling them a few ideas.

Have some great ideas to share? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter!

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com  Check it out!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

Is Your Niche Magazine Pinteresting Enough?



Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler  By Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

  Sticky, viral and doesn’t go away. No, I am not talking about the latest new flu strain. Pinterest still continues to be one of the fastest-growing platforms in social media since its inception in 2009. Are you using it to your magazine’s full advantage? Have you ruled it out completely, as it is only effective for wedding, apron, knitting magazines, or other B2C’s? Guess again, publishers. Whether you are a Business-to-Customer (B2C), Business to Business (B2B), or an Association magazine, this applies to you. User rates continue to increase rapidly and they are spending an average of over 80+ minutes on some boards.  ID-10066060

That’s not only supremely sticky, it’s ROI. Why? Because if your magazine actively engages in Pinterest, you are putting out powerful visual images for your current readers, future readers, and advertisers to learn more about who and what you really are. It’s branding and it’s easy.

I stumbled upon this great free tutorial from Marketing Profs that really explains well the reasons why any business should take full advantage of Pinterest. It was published last year, but it’s still very relevant to what you need to know. (It’d be a quick read on the plane, tuck it in your carry-on.) Still not convinced that Pinterest is worth evaluating as a social media tool for your niche magazine? Check out these stats  from Forbes Magazine.

Pinterest’s user engagement does not decrease like Twitter. It’s highly viral, with 80% of pins being re-pins, according to Marketing Profs. Think about it: If your niche magazine is about software usage or scrap material or for accountants, you can pin an “Infographic of the week” or “Inspiration of the week” for your particular niche. You just need to use your imagination. How does your niche magazine effectively use Pinterest? Tell us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments! Plus, Carl Landau – Niche Media’s Grand Poobah – just launched a blog all about creating and marketing targeted events – blog.NicheEventNation.com  Check it out!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

 

Image from freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Ad Sales People: Pick up the Damn Phone!



Carl Landau By Carl Landau, Niche Media’s Grand Poobah

 My biggest pet peeve with today’s new ad sales people is that they rely too much on emails! Hey, I love email. It’s a great way to communicate with many people in a fast and efficient way. Media buyers prefer emails as well. they love it because they can turn you down very quickly and efficiently in an email reply.

I know that it’s totally old school, but here’s an idea: Pick up the damn phone. The phone call is so outdated and underused that it’s become the new latest thing. Just think about how few phone calls we get now compared to 10 years ago. It is almost quaint these days to get a personal phone call. It’s much more effective in overcoming objections. You can endear yourself to new prospects and also to get a feel for the “tone” of prospects. You often can’t get that in an email. People misread the tone of emails all the time. When you actually call someone, breathing and laughing are really good vital signs.  ID-10063996

Use an opening email to set up a time to call prospects. They appreciate you asking them when is a good time to chat. I always tell them that I literally will only talk to them for 5 minutes and want to find out more about their product, company, plan, etc., and I have a few ideas that I think will work for them. Here’s the secret: I stick to the time limit and talk all about them on the first call.

I actually have one or two ideas for them other than advertising in our magazine or website. Advertisers appreciate my approach and are usually open to me talking to them for a longer time—provided that I’m sincerely interested in THEM and have some unique idea. Then I always follow up with an email. Every call.

See…”the phone call” is the new 40 and the new black rolled into one!!!

Have great ideas for using sales phone calls effectively? Tell us here or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

 

Image from freedigitalphotos.net

Audience Development Done Right: Publishers Get Personal with a “Lifestyle” Strategy



Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler By Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

There’s no doubt this is a challenging time for niche magazines and you have to get it right to stay profitable. You may need to adopt a whole new way of thinking. Here’s a niche magazine that is serious about its strategy for getting to the right audience in a big way: John Taraborelli of Providence Monthly told us that for his publication, “…..we recognize we are in the lifestyle business, not the magazine business.” This lifestyle strategy  doesn’t just apply to B2C magazines, it can also apply B2B and Association publications as well. How? Successful magazines have discovered that focusing stories on interesting people and their lifestyles within their niche resonates most effectively with their target audience.  ID-10066844

It’s what their readers say they want to be informed about and it works. Increased subscriptions and overall retention is the result. For example, Association magazine publishers tell us although it may seem counter-intuitive, their readership does not want to always hear a ton of association chatter. They want to hear about cool people within their niche who do interesting things. Who doesn’t?

This does not mean you have to turn your magazine into the latest edition of The National Enquirer. But you and your teams can look at ways to profile your niche’s best of the best, the most innovative, the most unconventional, the most inspirational.  Or just thoughtful stories about what your readers are doing–it’s all good. Share with us how you successfully focus on lifestyles within your niche on our Facebook or Twitter.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

 

Introducing Niche Event Nation!



cropped-NENheaderv2.jpg

Like most people in the event business—I got here by accident. I was a niche magazine publisher for many years. I started out with magazines in the microcomputer programming industry and then went on to hobby magazines about homebrewing beer, winemaking, and craft brewing. Naturally it made sense to start events that integrated with our magazines as we already had a built-in audience.

To give you an idea of how long I’ve been at it: Bill Gates was the keynote of our first computer conference. It took a 5 minute call to him (yes, this is before the Internet when people actually communicated in person) and he said “Fine.” No big deal. Although I’ve sold all 5 of the magazines I’d started and have been exclusively in the event business the past 12 years, I still absolutely love it! We now exclusively put on events for niche magazine publishers.

I’m starting a new blog, Niche Event Nation, to help others in the event business. Maybe you can learn from my successes, challenges, and mistakes? Stay tuned for my upcoming posts about crazy event marketing ideas, pricing strategies, media partnerships, video promotions, and a ton more! You can always ask me questions on  Facebook or Twitter.  Or you can ask me in person at the upcoming Niche Magazine Conference and Niche Event Workshop in Tempe, AZ on Feb 11-13.
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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

How to Handle Ad Sales Cancellations with Positive Results!



Carl_New_Headshot By Carl Landau, Niche Media Grand Poobah

One of the taboo subjects ad sales people don’t want to talk about is how to handle rejection or when an existing advertiser or sponsor cancels some business with you.    ID-10022271

We recently had a vendor that we didn’t renew an agreement with once their year-long contract was over. We liked them but decided to take it in-house. The sales person didn’t handle it well and the transition to not using their services went anything but smoothly. I went from a fairly happy customer to a pissed off ex-customer.

As an ad sales person, don’t ever let this happen to you! If you think about your current advertisers and sponsors, probably at some point the majority of them had to cancel or change their schedule. How you handle this is incredibly important for the long term relationship you want to establish with your clients.

Carl’s 5 Tips for Overcoming Rejection on Canceled Ad Sales Programs:

  1. You need to push them a little to find out what the real reason is for canceling. The real reason may not be what they originally say.
  2. Don’t be a pushover. If there is a contract, then remind them of the terms and how much money they will lose (or the special issue or extra distribution they’ll be missing).
  3. Re-selling the ad program. We all hate it, but it seems like half the time we’re reselling advertising we already sold. Just reminding them why they went into the magazine, website, or event they had signed up for.
  4. Point out that you can just delay the program for 2 months until they resolve whatever is the problem. (Money, delay in product development, change in management, or whatever.)
  5. If there is no turning back and they have to cancel, be just as nice as you were when they originally signed up. I hate seeing ad sales people that start out all super nice and sweet, but as soon as something goes a little south they turn into mean SOBs about it all. You need to be in it for the long run: work and plan for when they’re going to come back, and do it in a positive and upbeat way.

You can now look forward to Mondays! Every Monday you’ll get a cool ad sales tip that will make your week a better one courtesy of Niche Media. Want to learn more? Attend the The Niche Magazine Conference for ad sales knowledge and inspiration this February. Have stories about about ad sales cancellations? Share here or on Facebook or Twitter. It’ll be like therapy for all us niche magazine ad salespeople.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

 

Buzzwords that Matter for Your Magazine’s Social Media Plan



Diana Landau, Niche Content WranglerBy Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

Hello all you astute B2C, B2B and Association Niche Magazine Publishers! Today I would like to discuss the latest technological advancements of GetGlue and Viggle.  I’m kidding. That’s a discussion about the burgeoning Social TV medium for another post at another time. However, with our rapidly changing content marketing world there are new terms to be learned every single day. Sometimes more. To create your own buzz, you must know the buzzwords, grasshopper.

Some of you may know all of these words or terms below, use them frequently, are totally immersed in the concepts of each, plus you enjoy the side benefit of greatly impressing your colleagues or at least your mother.  ID-100124017But there are also some of us out there who are wide-eyed and learning, not afraid to say “What does that mean?” Also possibly sweating a bit that we don’t always know as much as we should.

Although there will be no Official Niche Magazine Pop Quiz later, here is a handy little glossary below for your education and/or amusement:

  • Break through the clutter:  All the web chatter out there. Break through it. You may need to attend the  Niche Magazine Conference in Tempe in February to learn the best ways to do this.
         
  • Data Miner:  Person within an organization who mines or sifts or surfs through data for patterns and trends, interesting new content and/or updated contact information. This activity should include interns, assistants, sales, marketing dept—wait, ALL the depts plus the Publisher/Editor-in-Chief.
         
  • Digital storytelling:  There are many kinds of online storytelling today–such as Visual (video), Data-driven (infographics), Audio (through podcasts) and more.
         
  • Going for the longer burn:  Similar to oft-used term “long tail”, but this refers to a PR strategy that keeps lighting the interest fire through an integrated multimedia plan that includes video, analog, print, blogs, etc.
         
  • Newsjacking:  It’s walking the fine ethical line of dovetailing on a current event. Sometimes you can use today’s news to piggyback and share some info about your magazine with your readers.  Here’s some good advice on how to do that right.
         
  • Noisy:  Constant content with no substance. For example, some could say that if our U.S. Congress has a blog, it is, um, noisy.
         
  • Snackable content:  Short little content pieces or visuals that give a little something tasty for the reader to munch on–works great for Business-to-Consumer magazines on Pinterest.
         
  • Supercreatives:  Those that excel in the brave new content marketing world. You network with them at Niche Magazine Conferences all the time.
         
  • Stumbler:  Someone who is actively engaged in Stumbleupon. Second definition is someone at a niche magazine that does not learn how to integrate their media plan.
       
  • Tactical Enthusiasm:  Jumping into all the media streams (blog, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, Vimeo, Google Plus, Pinterest, etc.) without having overarching communication goals and strategy first. Not necessarily a good thing.
         
  • Vlogging: The concept of combining videos with blogging.

There are many more buzzwords out there we haven’t even touched on. Share some of your best buzzwords with us on Facebook or Twitter.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

 

 

 

Use Podcasts to Maximize Your Online Content’s Potential



Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

Peer to Peer magazine

Peer to Peer magazine increases reach by linking articles with podcasts.

By Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler

 

How do YOU get the most out of your online content? Savvy niche magazine publishers are figuring out that one of the best ways to breathe extended life into their brand online is by linking some of their specific website articles to podcasts. This easy-to-implement strategy allows the author of the article to then make an announcement or introduce a new development associated with the recently published article. It’s also a way to continue to expand on the subject further detail.

Peer to Peer, a professional trade association magazine, frequently links their online articles to podcasts with great results. The authors get to interact with your readers in a new way.  At the same time, you get the opportunity grab the attention of all those audio-learners out there. Plus this strategy also offers your niche magazine audience more flexibility to get the information they want from you in the media format that works best for them–whether it’s on their desktop, ipad or ipod. Last tip–don’t forget to measure your new listenership. Share your successful podcasting strategies with us and our niche magazine publishing world on Facebook or Twitter.

 

 

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ

2013 Inspiration for Your Niche Magazine from Wanda the Amazing Pug



Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler  By Diana Landau, Niche Content Wrangler  

Happy 2013, Niche Magazine Publishers!

Wanda the Pug poised for 2013.

Maybe it’s the prospect of knuckling down to work after the excess of the holidays, but Wanda, our amazing pug, has taught me some valuable lessons about getting inspired in 2013:

  • Be fully engaged in the present. When Wanda is about to get fed, she barks likes crazy and watches every single human movement with laser focus until that bowl is put down for her. When you are working your editorial calendar and setting sales goals for your niche magazine, give it your full attention. Put aside any other pressing concerns even though there are many in 1Q. Forget about multitasking–it means tasks that you away from your present top focus.
  • Set your goals and then prioritize them. Wanda’s top goals are very clear: chowing down, napping and going for walks. Baths and chasing cats are way further down the list. Don’t just set the top 2013 goals for your niche magazine, prioritize them. Understand which goals will affect your ROI and your time in the most profitable way.
  • Wag it. This little pug does not do anything half-way. When someone walks in, she is literally all over them and will instantly adopt a lap in record time. Use that same level of enthusiasm when you answer the phone, talk to and email your co-workers, customers and advertisers. Even in the cold stare of the first weeks of January, your genuine, enthusiastic effort will warm people to you. Wanda fully embraces this concept and will always, always let you know she is happy to see you.
  • Be loyal. She may jump over my dead body to get to a treat, but Wanda will never, ever abandon her best friend and pooch to cuddle with—Cosmo. (Especially when it’s very cold and she is also going after the top-level goal of napping, this is a Win-Win situation for Wanda.) Take the time right now to thank your best customers and advertisers sincerely. Tell them you appreciate their loyalty and why. Reach out right now without all the holiday fluff behind you to truly appreciate the commitment of those who matter.

    Life Lessons from Wanda the Pug

    Wanda the Pug knows how to get what she wants.

  • Be consistent. Wanda knows that the best place to be right now is in front of a warm fire. Period. Have the wisdom to know what integrated media plan works best for your niche magazine and stick to it.
  • Always be open. As a highly opportunistic pug, Wanda never misses a chance to inhale anything that might fall to the floor. Never. Be at the ready and open to new opportunities in 2013 that may benefit your magazine in ways you haven’t anticipated. Are there new revenue streams you keep thinking about but have not taken action on? Now’s the time to jump on it.

No bones about it, these lessons from Wanda may seem like common sense. But she works her plan daily and gets the results she wants. I am going to let her be an inspiration in my planning process in 2013. The Niche Magazine Conference is my favorite source for publishing inspiration. Tell us where you find your inspiration in 2013 in the comments or on Facebook or Twitter.

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Niche Media has created super niched-out events specifically for magazine publishers for over 12 years. We’ve helped pave the way for the era of boutique events that connect specific audiences and provide great educational, friendly and super-fun environments!

– Twitter: @NicheMediaHQ
– Facebook: NicheMediaHQ
– LinkedIn: Niche Media Network
– YouTube: NicheMediaHQ