The power of owned media (and why you should be taking content-first communications seriously)

The ‘owned media’ opportunity is real, but are you truly taking advantage of it?

The ubiquity of social and publishing technologies means that any business, government agency, nonprofit organisation or individual can in effect become their own media channel by producing meaningful content that resonates with a desired target audience community.

Here at Digital Citizen, we are ‘all in’ on taking a genuine content-first, or owned media, approach to brand communications.

If anything, the deeper into this space we go (and we’re in it up to our necks these days!), the more bullish we are on why businesses and organisations need to be throwing their lot behind becoming their own media channel first, before worrying about trying to game the system in order to squeeze more people down their metaphorical sales funnel.

With this in mind, here are five key reasons why you should seriously consider taking a content-first approach for your brand’s communications.

1. The way we get our news and information has changed, irrevocably

People today get their news and information from many and varied sources over and above traditional media outlets they may have relied upon in days gone by. These sources can often include companies and organisations themselves, but only if they’ve earned the right to become a trusted source of information (that takes time, effort and seriously good content).

  • The opportunity is for an organisation to become its own credible media channel and produce and distribute genuine news stories, feature pieces and interesting micro-content that not only finds an audience but builds trust and credibility with that audience over time.
  • This option gains credibility when you take into consideration that interrupting the masses with a constant one-way barrage of promotional messaging is becoming less and less effective as people become seriously more adept at ignoring, or blocking altogether, unwanted advertising noise.

2. Trust matters!

For many years the Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that one of the most trusted sources of information for a company or organisation are its internal subject matter experts (along with independent third-party experts such as academics).

On the flip side, CEOs have not fared nearly so well in the ‘trusted source’ stakes.

  • The opportunity for businesses and organisations is to leverage the power of their internal (and external) experts to inform and educate the community by publishing content that’s useful, thoughtful, helpful and relevant.
  • Equally, a content-first approach can also be a powerful way to boost the public profile and credibility of C-suite executives, including the CEO, but only if they do it in a way that’s open and authentic; the world does not need another blog article that resembles an over-edited press release full of jargon and weasel words! 

3. We live in an ‘opt-in’ world

People increasingly are opting in to receive news and information that’s of particular interest and relevance to them, and then screening out the rest of the informational noise.

  • The opportunity is to establish mechanisms online that make it easy for people to follow a company, organisation or individual through whatever means suits them; for example this could be an opt-in email subscriber list, segmented RSS feeds as well as social channels, particularly Twitter and Facebook.

4. People want to go ‘behind the velvet rope’

We often forget ‘consumers’ are human beings; we have an innate desire to go ‘behind the velvet rope’ of an organisation, project or community endeavour, and connect emotionally with interesting authentic stories and the people behind them. But unfortunately, so many companies and organisations are intent on hiding in the shadows of the boardroom, churning out soulless content that’s overly varnished and ultimately provides little value to anyone.

  • The opportunity is for any organisation to develop an open and transparent ‘content-first culture’ in which leaders and employees learn to understand the power of authentic storytelling and the positive effect it can have on their brand’s visibility, influence, trust and reputation in the marketplace and community.

5. Traditional media increasingly craves collaboration with content creators 

Traditional newsrooms have shrunk considerably as we know, resulting in less journalists covering more stories and becoming stretched work-wise as a result. This lack of time and resources may mean in some circumstances stories aren’t covered in as much depth as they used to be, much to the chagrin of both the audience and journalists themselves.

  • The opportunity is to help supplement the media’s editorial output with (paid) native content, which still needs to be editorially robust, as well as provide a stream of stories and ideas that have the potential to spark conversation with print journalists and broadcast producers alike.
  • Collaborating with the media by contributing ‘op-eds’, for example, is all part of a content-first communications approach; ditto producing industry research reports and sharing the findings with journalists. The same can be said for creating content collateral such as charts, infographics and video snippets – if these help a journalist or editor improve the quality of the story, this is a win-win for all parties.
  • If nothing else, the content you produce helps journalists and producers more effectively determine your professional bona fides and the level of your knowledge and expertise before they decide to source a quote from, or run an interview with, you or someone from your organisation.

As the social web matures, we are seeing a growing number of businesses, nonprofit organisations and individuals (‘personal brands’) taking a content-first approach and in doing so becoming their own media channel and building loyal audiences as a result.

TrinityP3 springs to mind.

So too does Iron MountainCaspar Bedding and The Concrete Network.

Ditto Darren RowseGECisionNASAKellogg’sBabbel and Neopost.

What about your brand?

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