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The word “media” has become an insanely popular buzzword. Think about it – there’s social media, earned media, interactive media, paid media, print media, owned media, shared media…the list goes on.

Media, in all its glorious forms, literally evolves by the day. Fun fact: digital interactions are two times more important to customers now than they were before the COVID-19 pandemic. Much like anything else, the more something evolves, the more confusion is bound to arise.

So, to spare you from too much confusion, we’re going to focus on the types of media that most heavily influence businesses – paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media, otherwise known as the PESO model.The exciting news is a growing number of brands across various industries are beginning to see how important these different forms of media are to their business growth. The kicker (and the reason we’re writing this), is how often we see brands rely too heavily on their earned media strategy as opposed to enhancing their owned media strategy. Or brands investing their dollars into paid and earned without having owned solidified. And the most shudder-worthy…ignoring owned all together.

Now, that’s not to say owned media is the most important form of media, but it does lay a sturdy foundation for the rest of the media in the PESO model. Yet, it’s constantly underestimated.

Repeat after me: an owned media strategy should ALWAYS come first. Why? Without prioritizing an owned media strategy, all your other marketing efforts will fall flat and fail to reach their full potential.

By juicing up your owned media strategy on the platforms you’ve likely already created, you’ll soon find you have more control over your messaging and the overall traffic/engagement. You’ll also see how much more of a lean and mean strategy you have, packed with relevant and evergreen content your audience truly wants.

What is Owned Media?

SpinSucks’ Gini Dietrich says it best:

Owned media is otherwise known as content. It is something you own, and it lives on your website or blog. You control the messaging and tell the story in a way you want it told.

Before diving into the list below, keep in mind that some examples are more encompassing than others. If you’re a visual learner, picture it like a funnel that gradually gets narrower the farther down you go. Owned media is at the very top of the funnel, bulleted terms are toward the top/middle, sub-bullets are in the middle/bottom and sub-sub-bullets dwell at the very bottom of the funnel.

Content Marketing: If you’re reading this, you likely already have somewhat of a grasp on content marketing. If you’re not sure or need a refresher, Neil Patel sums it up as, “…a long-term strategy that focuses on building a strong relationship with your target audience by giving them high-quality content that is very relevant to them on a consistent basis.”

Owned media examples include:

  • Webinars
  • Audio (think voice recordings and podcasts)
  • Brand journalism (here’s a great example: Red Bull’s The Red Bulletin)
  • Visual content
    • Presentations
    • Photos
    • Graphic design images
    • Videos
    • Infographics
    • Screenshots
    • Memes
    • Employee stories
    • Customer stories

Search Engine Optimization (SEO): SEO is the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. Check out this definition if you want to dig deeper.

Examples of SEO include:

  • SERPS (search engine results pages)
  • Voice search
  • E-A-T (Expertise, authoritativeness, trustworthiness, also known as page quality)
  • Domain authority

Part of understanding what owned media is, is also understanding what it is not. Many sources, including those with top search engine results, lump certain media examples into owned that don’t belong. For example, some top sites consider social media to be owned. (Once you’re finished reading this article, Google “owned media.” You’ll see what I mean.)

Consider this – if you publish an image to Instagram or an article to LinkedIn Pulse, will that content be deleted if the platforms ever go away? You bet. This is why social media best falls under shared media.

To truly own content and never lose it, always publish it on your website first, then use your shared channels for distribution and promotion.

The Role of Websites & Email in an Owned Media Strategy

While the PESO model does an excellent job listing and categorizing the buckets that different forms of media fall into, I want to highlight what the most popular examples of owned media channels are: websites (including blogs) and email. These are two key elements in establishing a strong owned media strategy and are where you can house all that stellar owned media mentioned above.

In addition to being easily accessible places to keep your content, there are several other benefits of working your website and email marketing platform into your overall strategy.

  1. You Control the Messaging. Now, this one is somewhat of a given, but your website and email platform are two channels where you have complete control over the messaging. Paid, earned and shared are all incredible in their own ways, but part of what makes owned so special is the fact that you dictate everything that gets published there.
  2. Minimal Costs. While you pay for your website domain/hosting and you may pay for your email marketing program, you don’t incur additional costs to get your message out, like you would through tactics that fall under the paid media bucket.
  3. Lower Maintenance. While paid, earned and shared media execution often needs a refreshed strategy, owned can tend to be more evergreen and require less maintenance.
  4. Owned Media is Foundational. Owned media is foundational because you can use paid, earned and shared media to drive back to the content on your own channels. For lack of a better term, this allows your audience to hear it straight from the horse’s mouth.

Owned media will continue to play an important role in communications and marketing programs for the foreseeable future. It’s critical to reflect, prioritize, create and refine your strategy now. Ready to get started? Check out part two of our blog series: 3 Owned Media Best Practices for 2021.

Reach out if you’d like help aligning your owned media efforts with an integrated communications strategy.

Both VP of strategy Nikki Little and digital account executive Kaiti Horn contributed to this post.