My background in journalism has provided me with a few extra tools in my marketing tool kit. I spent time as the features editor of my college newspaper and online media outlet, the UNF Spinnaker.
I also interned at our local NPR affiliate WJCT as a reporter and covered several local features for NPR.
This experience, along with a few years freelancing for magazines, revealed to me that there was an art to incorporating advertising into media.
I knew that the nature of feature stories allowed for an abundance of opportunities to seamlessly incorporate sponsor’s products that highlighted or supported the story. This experience led me to be a natural at utilizing the native advertising strategy as a marketer.
I have used the native advertising style often in my four years as the marketing coordinator for a Florida real estate company. My first project was inspired by some particularly effective native advertising I saw from Down East Magazine and their special features section Maine Homes.
I saw brokerages in Maine sponsoring content that promoted their listings alongside the Maine Homes feature stories
I wanted to try this at my company in Florida, too. However, the price for advertisements on similar publications here such as Jacksonville Magazine, was incredibly high and didn’t work for my company’s budget.
Therefore, I decided to design and create a new media outlet for my company and to use great journalism to create feature stories that had creativity, substance and credibility. I would treat my content as I had any other news story, I had written in the past so that Top of the Coast could stand on its own as a lifestyle blog.
I followed the formula I learned as part of an award-winning team of University of North Florida (UNF) students who created a Northeast, FL media outlet, One Tank media devoted to regional travel stories.
This decision led to the creation of our company’s media outlet, Top of the Coast, which was devoted to publishing the types of features covered by most established regional and city magazines.
I followed the formula I learned at OneTank Media which was 1. create a media brand 2. create a WordPress site for that brand 3. create social media accounts for the brand 4. publish content as a blog post on WordPress 5. promote that content using social media.
I added buttons to our WordPress blog that directed traffic to my company’s main real estate website, and designed the buttons and other promotional content from my company in the style of native advertising.
Our Top of the Coast brand has been expanded into a vlog on YouTube and our video content is promoted in the same fashion. There are even talks of expanding the Top of the Coast brand in the future into a podcast and perhaps expanded onto other media platforms.
Last, we have recently begun using the native advertising style in our email marketing efforts.
I was inspired by a really great e newsletter called The Newsette that had excellent content and design and incorporated sponsored products seamlessly. I was also inspired by a local blog, 904 Happy Hour, that had a lot of great hyper local content with native advertising from a variety of sponsors incorporated into it.
I used some of that inspiration when I designed our current e newsletter, the Door to Door in 904 news. That newsletter was recently launched and went out to thousands of contacts in our target audience. I made sure to feature hyper local, trending content that would be valuable to our target audience along with some subtle advertising of a few of our properties and real estate services.
To sum it all up, native advertising is something that can be extremely effective if done correctly. I try to continue to discover new and creative ways to use it as I continue my marketing career and there is always something learn to learn out there!