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How To Make An Owned and Earned Media Approach Sing Sweetly

earned and owned media

For an earned media strategy to work the secret is to be miles ahead of the ‘lets send this in and see what happens’ approach.

Many of my articles are focused on how to build and nurture an owned media approach, but the earned path can help solidify an overall message within the same marketing ecosystem.

Imagine a game of ‘Whac A Mole’ and you are the mole. The longer your head is surfaced in daylight so others can see you and you are visible, the better it is for your overall exposure, reach and recognition.

I don’t want to go all textbook on you with a detailed definition of owned and media. I’ll do it in the following three sentences:

Owned Media – the content approach that you harness and the media channel ownership is 100% yours.

Earned Media – in old money this was regarded as PR. An earned media approach is when another media source effectively do your marketing for you (and true earned media is that you don’t pay).

One represents more of a focus on creating content (owned) while the other has a heavier focus on promoting content (earned).

If you can get this working together, you have the ability to build strong foundations that are not reliant on bowing down to the house of Google and the font of Facebook. If you want to read further on how a solid base is structured, have a read of Trevor Young’s Understanding The Power Of Owned And Earned Media In An Opt-In World. It’s a cracking article and gives real context to the whole media landscape.

The most important thing I want you to take away from this article is proof.

You want the proof, you can handle the proof.

The Evidence Of Owned and Earned Approach In Action

owned and earned media

Last week my local daily newspaper (The Bournemouth Echo) featured what I stand for and featured the Content Revolution book within it’s business section.

This goes beyond putting together a 250-word press release and emailing it to the business editor, but actually meeting up with the business editor. Darren Slade covered the story and I genuinely appreciate his time and spending an hour with me last month. Relationships with other people really are worth their weight in gold.

The difference between sending an article to the press and hoping for the best contrasted to earning the right for someone else to sit up and listen is down to having something to say that isn’t in the same park as everyone else (take a bow the award win; the new member of staff; the new premises; the new investment). What you create has to be newsworthy in its own right.

The earned media exposure generated noted measurement within two owned media channels (trust me this ecosystem does work) last Tuesday.marketing_homebrew

  • the appearance within the Tuesday local newspaper resulted in a healthy spike of listeners to the Marketing Homebrew podcast (although Ian Rhodes will want some glory from his SAGE article)


  • the appearance within the Tuesday local newspaper resulted in 11 new subscribers (from a local audience) to the You Are The Media email that is sent every Thursday morning.

What You Have To Do

This is where the biggest challenge lies for businesses. When you stop a commitment to feed a continuous loop (earned complimenting owned and vice versa), eventually one route will disappear into the distance. For instance, if communication with Darren (from The Bournemouth Echo) comes to a grinding halt and we never hear from one another again, then the local earned channel could become dry.

Everything explained here is via an organic approach (whether owned or earned). It has nothing related to going down the route of paying someone else to sing your praises as though you are clambering for the attention of someone from Made In Chelsea or Geordie Shore.

If you take this approach, the eventuality is when you stop paying someone, the goodwill disappears.

owned and earned media

The reality TV owned approach.

The Marrow Growing Contest

owned and earned media

Imagine everything you are tending to is to create a prize marrow at the local village fete. By giving the most love, care and attention can result in an opportunity to be alongside the three finalists. This is from being committed to growing throughout all seasons and not just thinking that spring and summer will deliver a desired effect.

You can’t cut corners by thinking that fertiliser will speed the whole process up and then walk away (in real world terms this could be the fascination with collecting numbers on social channels to think this represents a true meaning of audience).

To grow a first prize marrow takes time, commitment, nurturing and a combination of tending to the soil (earned media) as well as the marrow (owned media). The soil helps the marrow grow. Get it right, you have fully deserved the rosette and free cider.

Being Continuously Relevant

Building a foundation with an owned and earned approach is all about being continually relevant to an audience who understand what you represent. Your viewpoint has the opportunity to be seen in different channels that go beyond the spaces that you control. The biggest opportunity that earned media compliments is reach.

To do this involves a mix of planning, getting your story right, targeting the right media channels and then the ability to monitor whether earned spaces can generate a return (in my case it was more subscribers and more listeners to the Marketing Homebrew podcast).

Another route that I found useful where an earned media approach can play a key role in sharing what you have created is to work with other bloggers who have a presence. Working with Rebecca Perl from Messagelab Communications to review and share The Content Revolution, enabled a further outreach.

Rounding Up What I Have Learnt

This represents a longer-term strategy to focus and evolve what you represent and the ability to recognise the spaces to collaborate within your marketplace. This is not a short term approach to win favour within Twitter and think that a mention from someone with more followers represents credibility, this is a very shallow place to be, get out of the puddle.

If you can build relationships with others with an organic approach that you control, when the worlds of owned and earned media work together, it can enable further reach, generate new subscribers and widen your audience.


3D-bookcoverThe earned and owned media approach is looked at in The Content Revolution.

If you want to read what the book is about and to download the first chapter (don’t worry you don’t have to leave your email address), then click here.

If you want to buy now, click here. If you would like the ebook version click here.

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