Easy Ways to Advertise Your Media Brand

English soccer star and captain of the England Football Team David Beckham is pictured on an advertising billboard on June 19, 2003 in Tokyo, Japan.
••• Junko Kimura/Getty Images News/Getty Images

Media advertising should be part of an overall promotion campaign that targets desired audiences and convinces them to take action that benefits your company. There are several easy ways to advertise your media brand, depending on what you want from your customers. The best media advertising strategy creates a mix of different types of ads, each one targeting different needs.

Topical Ads

Topical media advertisements are the simplest to produce and address specific goals. For example, if you want to give your audience a call to action to tune in to a particular newscast or pick up a specific edition of the newspaper, this is the type of ad you might want.

A newspaper might highlight its own content with an ad that says, "Read our complete 14-page high school football preview in Friday's edition." A television station might promote its newscast by saying, "Bed bug battles: What hotel workers don't want you to know. Tonight on Channel 2 News at 6 o'clock."

Topical ads are most effective when you have exclusive content that will compel people to read, listen, or watch, or when you need a quick boost in your audience numbers.

Topical ads have a short shelf life and cease to be relevant after a special section has been published or a special broadcast has aired. However, if you string together a series of topical ads over several days or weeks, you can turn these small gains into long-term trends.

Image Ads

Image-based advertisements are the opposite of topical ads. They have longer shelf lives because they're not geared toward getting people to the newsstand or newscast for specific content. Instead, they build your brand by highlighting the qualities you want audiences to associate with your media product.

A TV station may want to be known as the leader in breaking news coverage. To accomplish this, it could produce a gritty, aggressive image spot with quick edits of the news team in action during a flood, hostage crisis, or plane crash.

A competitor may seek a different image, one of a compassionate neighbor who cares about your problems. Its image ad could show members of the news team in the community, pushing a child on a swing at the playground, handing a bouquet of flowers to an elderly lady, or picking up trash off the curbside.

This form of media advertising won't translate into an instant Nielsen ratings boost for either station, but they can help differentiate your station in an industry where local TV news broadcasts sometimes are viewed as all the same. It's also a good way to target audience demographics because certain imagery performs better, for example, with males aged 18 to 29 than with females 50 or older.

Comparison Ads

Comparison advertising sets aside imagery for hard facts. If your audience isn't noticing the reasons why your media product is unique, comparison ads might be the solution. Care must be taken to not appear mean-spirited. If your news outlet wants to be seen as a friendly, neighborly alternative, comparison advertising may not work at all.

If you do want to set yourself apart, something like this might work: "Channel 4 is the only station with live radar. Not Channel 5. Not Channel 17. Only Channel 4 brings you important weather updates before they become a threat." You also can soften the punch by not naming your competitors directly.

Customer Testimonials

Some advertisements allow readers, viewers, or listeners to do the talking, touting the benefits of your media company. These ads sometimes are considered more credible than other forms of advertising because "real people" are seen as more trustworthy than an announcer making a pitch.

A parent could be seen saying, "I used to start my day with the local paper or by flipping on a morning newscast. But now I go to my hometown website to know which way to drive to work to avoid traffic."

While a reader or viewer offering a testimonial is seen as more believable than either an announcer or an employee of the news outlet, the reality is that many such testimonials are scripted and use paid actors whose home settings are studio sets.

Whether using real customers or actors, it is critical to use people who match the demographic you are trying to reach. For example, if you are trying to reach younger viewers, a testimonial from a middle-aged man won't help. Scripts also are important. If you write something for the person to say, make sure it sounds conversational. An alternative is to allow the person to speak her own mind about what she likes about your company.

Jumping on the Bandwagon

A jump-on-the-bandwagon ad conveys that "everyone is buying a product, so shouldn't you?" A fledgling top-40 radio station might try to convince listeners that "everyone is making the switch" away from their longtime competitor. This can persuade people who want to be part of a trend and don't want to be left behind.

Because this type of pitch is everywhere, it works best when it's used with another form of advertising. Otherwise, it will seem empty when you say you're the "fastest-growing radio station" in town with little else to back up your claim.

Bandwagon ads are more effective when backed up by data. For example, if your TV or radio station has experienced a ratings boost, this type of ad can be an effective way to share that information.

Proof of Performance

A proof of performance ad uses past events to show how your news organization handled a big story, like an election night or a hurricane.

The ad could use statements such as "When Hurricane Hilda battered the coast, Action News was there" or "The next time bad weather threatens, turn to Action News."

You want to remind people of what you did better than anyone else. Even people who missed your hurricane coverage will be exposed to what you accomplished and will be left with the message that the next time there's an emergency, they need to choose you for information.

It's important to be tasteful with such ads because bragging too much can be a turnoff, especially in a crisis involving the loss of life. You don't want to say, "When 10 people died, we were the first to tell you" and have your audience accuse you of poor taste.