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Going Direct – Why Owned Media Continues To Be Vital In Your Communications Mix

By Travis Claytor, APR

Ask 10 PR professionals for the definition of public relations and you’ll probably get 10 different definitions. Public relations experts may be known as content experts, event planners or even celebrity publicists. As the public relations industry evolves, so do the perceptions about the profession, and unfortunately, there are a lot of misconceptions about PR professionals.

This likely, in part, is due to the many elements of a strategic communications plan that PR practitioners are responsible for: media relations, brand managements, social media, content creation, crisis communications, issues management and the list goes on and on.

If you subscribe to the Spin Sucks PESO model (and you should), there are four main buckets within the integrated communications process:

P – Paid

E – Earned

S – Shared

O – Owned

While I could write multiple articles on each of these areas – you can read more about the elements of a Strategic Communications plan, including the PESO model, here – today we’re going to focus on owned media and why it continues to play a crucial role in managing an effective communications strategy.

Define “Owned Media”

Owned media channels are the channels we, or our clients if you’re an agency, own and operate, where we have full control. What it does NOT include are social, or Shared, channels.

Ask yourself this question – do you own the content you put on Facebook? How about the data from your fans or followers? Or the user experience on the platform? If you think the answer to any of these is yes, I’d encourage you to read the Facebook Terms & Conditions a bit closer.

So, owned media are our websites, landing pages, blogs or anything where we control the content, the cadence, the data, branding and user experience.

Benefits of Owned Media
As consumers’ attention spans decrease, and the news cycle speeds up, earned and shared outlets are oftentimes creating content that is skimmable at best.

Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned are all crucial elements of a successful strategic communications campaign. But, with the lack of control of shared channels, or inconsistency of earned channels, and the resources needed for paid channels, your owned channels are more important than ever.

In a time when PR professionals are navigating through hundreds of thousands of news outlets, blogs, news websites, digital publications and streaming content, owned media channels offer some distinct advantages.

As strategic communications professionals, we look to reduce the number of variables to the success of our campaigns – basically we all feel the need to be in control of who sees our messaging and how they consume our content.

Owned media channels offer the control we’re looking for – in cadence, messaging priority, user experience, brand representation, and data mining. It also allows you to tailor content to specific, niche audiences in the ways they want to consume it.

Messaging Priority and Brand Representation – what does your content say about your brand? Working through earned or shared content, you leave this to chance. But, by making your owned channels one of the pillars of content creation, you control the messaging each and every time new content is distributed.

Cadence and Consumption – how often does your audience demand content, and in what way are they engaging? Hopefully you’re paying attention to some of the KPIs across your channels and you know this answer already, but if not, start digging in now! By focusing on your owned channels, you have the versatility to control how often you put your messaging out for audiences, and doing it in a way that maximizes engagement and ultimately action.

Data – this is probably the biggest advantage of owned media channels. From audience behaviors to content and website engagement, data drives everything we do and gives us the knowledge to create campaigns and content that drives real results. Having access to this information allows us to create content with intention and purpose.

“The But” of Owned Media

There’s always a “but” and working with owned media is no different.

First and foremost, this is all you. Your content, on your channel, the way you want audiences to consume it. That means you need to know the best way to deliver this content and dedicate resources to do it the right way.

With great control comes great responsibility.

One of the biggest challenges of working with owned channels is the potential of not being trusted. These are, after all, your channels and there’s no obligation for you to be objective, which could lead your audiences to be suspicious of your intentions.

It should come as no surprise that, as PR practitioners, we need to build trust and credibility with our key audiences, no matter who they are. It’s even more crucial for a channel considered to be biased. In order to achieve that credibility, make sure transparency is paramount in your approach.

The Takeaway

Simply put – owned media channels are crucial to a successful communications campaign. And so are the others.

Don’t get lost looking at the shiny object as you’re creating and executing your strategic communications campaign. National media hits are great. Shared and social media channels are crucial for engagement. Paid efforts provide targeting opportunities and amplification. And owned channels provide control.

It’s easy for public relations practitioners to focus on getting that next media hit, or launching a new social media channel. But if we’re really going to create meaningful results for our businesses and clients, we need to think in an integrated and strategic way.

How do these elements fit together? How do they enhance the results of the next tactic, or better move your audiences to take action?

Strategy is the name of the game for an integrated communications campaign. Act and execute with meaning and purpose, and you’ll find success with all elements of the communications process, elevating your client and the industry.

 

 

 

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