Strategy: Owned Media Before Earned & Paid #OwnedMediaRocks


Once again I sit through another meeting where a public relations professional’s performance is based on the number of print articles earned in the local newspaper. This has driven me to finally write this post.

Owned media can be a huge influencer for earned and paid. Let’s be honest, earned media is about relationships. Organizations can have the best stories, provide the best value for the community, and have the most topical items to influence media outlet’s bottom line…but without relationships this means nothing. ZILCH! That’s why you see organizations hire PR firms, mainly for their relationships leveraging their sphere of influence.

Organizations that do not know how to tell their story (and tell it well) can have great relationships with earned media outlets, but do a horrible job of communicating their message. That is why I love the owned space. LOVE IT!

Investing in storytelling is not this hypothetical catch phrase that can make everyone feel warm and fuzzy, yet it is a practical, strategic approach that can influence ownership of messaging. It is an operational way of taking ownership of the stories that happen on an internal basis, funneled through digital properties as pitch mechanism, and influence media relationships to broaden the storytelling strategy. Plus…I think journalists are competitive and sometimes want to prove they can write better than the organization.

If you tell your story well, influence your community to engage with your story, people want to share. Creating a digital storytelling strategy as an internal focus can be executed very simply:

  1. Create blog
  2. Create a news area on the website
  3. Create a content plan
    – Create a content calendar
    – Capture and write an organization’s story through first person narratives via the blog
    – Capture and write third person news articles via the news section
  4. Write consistently (leverage content calendar)
  5. Share through social and digital outlets
  6. Leverage content as pitch narratives for earned media outlets.
    – Email blasts to media contacts
    – Have coffee/lunch/meetings with media contacts with story ideas from blog/news.
  7. Integrate paid promotion around content boosting performance (reach and funnel metrics)
  8. Track and report

This is the owned approach, putting a focus on telling your “own” story leveraging the organizations’ content for earned and paid media strategies. This allows organizations to focus on content on the tactical level (specialist, managers, directors) and the true function of PR, building long term relationships (director and vp level).

The best part of this approach is once the tactical strategy of content creation funneling through the organizations digital outlets…you can measure, refine, then scale.

Refining is the fun part! Measuring content that resonates with digital audiences then comparing the content narratives that support the communication/marketing focuses of the organization’s growth goals.

Now, I can here you out there…”how do I get my internal team to focus on creation of quality content?” That is a whole other discussion, but it comes down to creating a commitment to this strategy, incorporating into individuals job functions/titles, and hiding them accountable. It also includes inspiring and recruiting the right people on your internal team that has a passion and voice for your organization, including outside the communications team.