PR Watchwords for 2015, Earned, Paid and Owned

For 2015, three key watchwords are earned, paid and owned. If the last few years have been about optimizing for mobile and social, this might be the year to focus on you and your clients’ “owned” media.

Many of us who joined the PR profession from journalism know a lot about earned media. It is relationship based, news value-based, story-based approach, but certainly not always very controllable. Paid media is controlled media. Like Marshall McLuhan said, “The medium is the message.” The paid media strategy varies with the medium involved. For instance, often times if you look at the costs of pitching and tracking something particularly on radio, paid media is often a cheaper option. And because it’s controlled, a paid placement audio news release often makes more sense than trying to place an “earned” one. That said, there are so many talk radio options both over broadcast, satellite and the internet, a radio media tour should seldom if ever have to resort to “paid” placement, there’s just too much opportunity and demand to justify that. So look for earned media for “live” radio opportunities.

With a satellite or TV media tour, the best results are often a mix of earned and paid, particularly if a client has to target a specific market and none of the TV stations are interested in an earned or “free” media interview. Synaptic and others have done very well with segments like “In the Know” which are paid segments that appear in commercial breaks very often in news programming that you might see on CNBC or other news/business outlets. They look like news stories and are edited with a journalistic bent, but are in fact controlled/paid media. TV now works best with a mixed paid and earned strategy. But the video clips you generate might be perfect for “owned” media as well.

What is “owned” media? Let’s start with the web. A large retailer’s Facebook page has 10 million followers—while that means the potential universe of people is larger than the audience that watches all the morning network news shows combined, at the very least that means hundreds of thousands of people may be looking at that social site every hour. That’s a very valuable piece of internet real estate and to keep those eyeballs, the retailer has to have special offers and sticky content like multimedia, things to engage the audience to keep them there and also to keep them coming back. Here’s a place for those video clips you generated from an earned or even a paid campaign. In fact, in every campaign, content can be developed that fits all three needs, earned, paid and owned. Think about all of a company’s social media channels, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, etc, as “owned” media. Don’t forget about the main website, too. Multimedia helps search engine optimization there, too.

When we think about a company’s web page as its “owned media”—they often have more owned media than they may realize. How about the TV set in their lobby or waiting room? How about putting signage on their trucks or real estate? That’s all potentially owned media, too. Many hospitals have their own TV networks and if they don’t they can turn to companies like Health Media Network which allow them to customize or personalize the TV content. The best place to generate new business is always with your existing customers. Owned media also plays to the emerging field of brand journalism—your owned media can be a home or “launching pad” for your brand journalism.

Questions, comments, feel free to reach out! Happy New Year!