The Herald Bulletin

Overnight Update

Local Business

November 6, 2013

Susan Miller: What is your owned media?

Have you ever heard the phrase, “Own it?” In branding parlance, “own it” typically refers to an attribute of your business that serves to define how you do business.

Some categories that businesses try to own include low cost (or high cost), local source, premier provider, and fastest. The problem with such categories is that they’re subjective and hard to claim. Even given Wal-Mart’s size, there are plenty of companies striving to be the low-cost provider. And in a world where profit margin means survival, do you really want to hang your hat on price?

In the absence of a clearly defined area of ownership, a business may feel it can’t own any category. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whether a business is cognizant of it or not, it continually deals with “owned media.”

It may be easiest to compare owned media to two more widely discussed types of media. First, there is paid media, which is what you say about yourself. This is brand messaging that is paid for through advertisements. Ads in this newspaper and on its website are examples of paid media, as are TV commercials and Facebook ads.

While paid media is what you say about yourself, “earned media” refers to what others say about you. An example of earned media is an article or blog post about your company. Earned media enjoys the benefit of being perceived as more objective than a paid advertisement because it wasn’t purchased.

However, the third type of media is most powerful of all. That’s what we called owned media. While paid media is what you say and earned media is what others say about you, owned media refers to what is unspoken about your brand.

Owned media includes the condition of your parking lot, the competence of your staff and the cleanliness of your service vehicles. An HVAC technician who puts on protective shoe coverings before entering a customer’s home is sending a message that equates to earned media. A website that has erroneous or incomplete information is also owned media.

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