February 1, 2022
3 Reasons Your Professional Services Firm Should Develop an Owned Media Program
In today’s digital-first environment, people are empowered to seek out uniquely meaningful information from an ever-growing pool of sources. Counter to this growth in choice, however, is the declining trust in traditional media channels, with business emerging as the most-trusted institution.
That’s according to Edelman’s 2022 Trust Barometer. For organizations, notably professional service providers, this is an opportunity – maybe even an obligation – to provide answers in times of great uncertainty through owned content channels. To be clear, traditional earned media engagement remains an invaluable tool and likely always will. But increased trust in business means that every research report, blog post, white paper, or podcast demonstrates your firm’s ability to meet the specific needs of your audience, helping them make sense of an increasingly chaotic world.
As such, some of the things that we (along with others in the public relations and content marketing space) have been saying for years about the importance of producing owned content – and producing it well – have never been more salient.
1. Quality, Self-Published Content Establishes Your Firm’s Authority
The experts at your firm know your industry inside and out. They possess valuable insight and experience that benefit your clients every day. And their deep knowledge empowers them to communicate positions of authority that differentiate your firm from the competition.
It can seem counterintuitive to give some of their hard won expertise away for free. But that’s exactly what effective content marketers do. They identify topics and ideas that will resonate with prospective clients and provide useful information to help solve their toughest challenges. This establishes credibility and sparks the prospect’s interest to learn more.
How Sharing Expertise through Content Generates Business
Here’s a real-life example of how the content marketing dynamic works. I’m an avid runner, and I recently began experiencing hip pain that slowed me down. I turned to Google for answers. My search brought me to an article on the Treadlabs blog that explained how different types of foot arches can influence a runner’s gait. I scoured their site to learn more about what might be causing my issues. After reading several of their in-depth, thoughtful articles, I deduced that my high arches were the culprit. As a result, I purchased insoles from their site. They gained a happy customer, and I found a solution to lessen my pain.
Although this is a B2C example, the same principle works in the B2B space. Communicating your message directly to your audience in a way that’s useful and informative draws them in and shows them the value of becoming your client.
Your Owned Media Program Must Function Like a Well-Oiled Machine to Be Effective
As you create an owned media/content marketing program at your firm, be aware of the pitfalls that can hinder your progress. For one thing, generating content takes a tremendous amount of time and attention. As such, it’s crucial to think like a publisher. Stay hyper focused on your content plan. Determine what questions your target audience needs answered and set deadlines to publish content regularly. Consistency is the name of the game.
Additionally, it’s unlikely your subject matter experts have the bandwidth to author their own content without significant support. They have myriad priorities competing for their professional attention. And without a plan, your owned media goals can easily fall to the bottom of their lengthy to-do list.
As a marketing leader, it will take a concerted effort on your part to draw out your colleagues’ expertise. Furthermore, you will have to think through how to position their ideas in a way that matters to your audience. You may find it necessary to hire an employee to focus on this effort or engage a comms agency to help.
2. Content Marketing Gives You a Direct Line to Your Target Audience
Media attention can be a cause for both celebration and concern. Yes, it’s exciting when a journalist picks up your story. But at the same time, you ultimately have no control over how that news outlet communicates your message. They might shorten a quote, leave out salient information, or pick and choose what to focus on based on their own editorial needs.
Furthermore, it’s difficult to track the effectiveness of these PR efforts. Given the multitude of media outlets available today, there’s no guarantee earned media coverage will reach your target audience at all.
By contrast, a solid content marketing strategy allows you to craft the right narrative using your own brand voice and style. For example, let’s say you want to communicate your firm’s position on a hot button social issue. Owned media allows you to contextualize and fully flesh out your position so that your meaning is crystal clear.
Using keywords and smart SEO tactics help your audience find the information they’re looking for. But you don’t have to wait for organic search to bring you prospects. Using paid media and social channels, you can share and promote content to attract your target audience. Additionally, because your insights live on your site, you can easily track what prospects read, see how much time they spend on each piece of content, and observe whether they take the next step to subscribe to your emails, fill out your contact form, or request more information.
3. Owned Media Can Generate More of the Earned Media Coverage You’re Looking For
It won’t happen overnight, but once you’ve established a consistent owned media program, you may find that it generates meaningful earned media coverage, too. Highlighting your firm’s expertise while simultaneously providing useful insights to your audience has the potential to command attention.
As part of our own content marketing program, Greentarget has written and spoken about fake news and its impact on journalism for the past two years. We’ve conducted and published in-depth research and shared our POV on the topic with our audience in various channels. As a result, MSNBC picked up the story and used it as a basis for further exploration of and conversation around the topic.
We’ve worked with clients to achieve similar results with their owned media programs as well. It takes time and dedication, but the results speak for themselves.
Make Owned Media Part of Your Multi-Faceted Communications Program
Owned media isn’t meant to supplant your other communication efforts. Rather, it should work in tandem with your paid, social, and earned media efforts to function as part of a vibrant ecosystem. You write quality content and promote it via paid and social media channels. Your audience engages with that content by visiting your site and perhaps sharing insights with their own network. And when that happens, you’ve created the right conditions for journalists to use your content to craft compelling earned media stories.
Do you need guidance thinking through how to tell your firm’s story while highlighting your talent’s expertise? We’d love to help direct conversations that matter as part of your comprehensive media strategy. Let’s talk.