As I’ve written previously, earned media is the most powerful form of media. It adds the reputation of a trustworthy source to the reliability of that same source, making your message more approachable and believable for consumers. However, it’s not the only way to get a message out; there are several other kinds of media that are also important to consider, and owned media – media that a brand controls, including websites, blogs, newsletters, and social media accounts – is one of the best ways for brands to increase their impact.
Owned media, while not backed by an outside media outlet, is a direct communication from a brand to a customer, and as such, all the communications through owned media must be in line with the brand’s goals and messaging. Too often, owned media is managed entirely by a marketing department – who is likely focusing on posting pithy tweets or pictures of cats with the product on facebook – instead of being managed by a public relations team that are experts at disseminating a message and making information relevant to a unique audience.
Public relations professionals are the consummate relationship builders: they work for years to connect, network, and reach out to people at media outlets in a way that is appealing to them and also to their broader audience. Public relations is a constant dance of tailoring your content to be the most interesting it can be, specifically to target those broader audiences who may not know about your brand. Granted, public relations generally focuses on acquiring earned media coverage, rather than managing owned media, but the very essence of public relations ensures that the pros are always focusing on managing the brand’s relations with the public.
Owned media is a way for a brand to build relationships with their customers, turn brand buyers into brand evangelists, and connect with their public audience directly. Public relations professionals should be the ones managing owned media – especially given the chance to turn a successful outreach or connection with the public into an opportunity for earned media coverage.
This is not to say that owned media should be managed entirely by a public relations team – rather, the management and day-to-day use of owned media should be viewed as a public relations responsibility, and treated as such. Content can come from the marketers and the advertisers, but should be distributed appropriately by the public relations team. Owned media’s management belongs with PR.