Why Infomercials Work (And What PR Pros Can Learn From Them)

It happens when we stay up past our bedtimes. The Late Late Show credits start to roll, and then, without warning, we’re suddenly in the clutches of one of those infamous infomercials. No matter how silly and cheesy these long commercials are, when you watch more than one infomercial, you’ll start to notice a few common characteristics. 

Retro TV CommercialThough you, in your sleepy state, may wonder how people “fall for” these tired old sales techniques over and over again, there’s a good reason that infomercials are a $91 billion dollar a year industry. Infomercials have perfected the art of selling, and as a PR pro, you can take a hint from some of their fundamental qualities.

“Have You Ever Had Trouble Getting Cake Out of the Oven with Plain Old Oven Mitts?”

With 30 minutes in which to pitch their product, infomercials never immediately go in for the hard sale. No, they first explain how and why the product was invented and what niche it fills. While very few people would answer “sure!” if asked outright if they need a Left-Handed Rolling Pin, once they’ve heard the engaging pitchman (or woman) spin the back story for a product, the gadget suddenly starts to seem ingenious rather than unnecessary. Learn from infomercials and give your clients some background on your company instead of going immediately in for the sale.

“Before I Bought the Rooftop Polisher …”

Infomercials employ testimonials from satisfied users. Because infomercials attempt to sell a product sight unseen, they must make the audience feel like they know all about the product. The detailed back story and ubiquitous demonstrations do part of the trick, but the audience is further swayed by what is called “social proof.”  When they see other men and women just like them endorse the product being pitched, they trust the pitchman more. As a PR pro, make the most of testimonials from satisfied customers and clients.

“Don’t delay! Call Today!”

What’s an infomercial without a hearty “Call now!” or an urgent “Time is running out! Place your order before all our Super Duper Widgets are gone!” These broad hints encourage the audience to buy and subtly caution that they may find themselves left out in the cold of they don’t.  Make like a pitchman and include calls to action your PR writing.

“But Wait … There’s More!”

Infomercials offer value-added services. A cook might be hovering on the fence about whether to purchase a Deviled Egg Cutter for the low price of just $19.99, but the addition of a Hot Dog De-Bunner free of charge could be just the thing to push them over the precipice and close the sale. You too can make like an infomercial and find value-added services to offer your current and potential customers.

While an infomercial probably isn’t the best way to advertise most businesses or products, borrowing their tried and true sales methods can benefit almost any PR pro. What are you waiting for? Act now!

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here:

2 Responses

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  2. Thanks for mentioning the tweet — appreciate PR Fuels great content!

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