Gini Dietrich

What is the Future of Owned Media?

By: Gini Dietrich | March 23, 2017 | 

Future of Owned MediaWe’ve spent the week talking about the importance of owned media.

First with a discussion about its place in the PESO model and yesterday with benchmarks and metrics.

Now let’s talk about its future.

I’ve not been shy in saying that the cornerstone of any communications program is owned media.

That belief has cost us business and I’ve even been the laughing stock of a certain LinkedIn group that will go unnamed.

In fact, I once spoke at a meeting of business leaders and, during a break, one attendee said to me:

It must be lonely.

When I asked him what he meant, he said:

You’ve built the path and you’ve provided the torches to light that path, but no one is following.

I grinned at him and said:

Oh, but they will.

And, in 2017, we’re both right.

Prospective clients still call us, asking for “buzz.”

When we discuss our approach, and how owned media is at the center of it, either they drop the torch and run away.

Or they pick two up and hand one to a friend.

Owned Media is the Cornerstone of a Comms Program

But the fact of the matter is, you cannot do earned, shared, or paid media without owned media.

If you don’t have owned media, what the heck will you share on social? Other people’s content?

And, if you don’t have owned media, what will you boost on Facebook and LinkedIn?

If you don’t have owned media, what will you email your list about…that isn’t boring and all about you?

But, even more importantly, if you don’t have owned media, how will you—in today’s world—prove to a journalist that you are an expert?

Everything we do must start with owned media.

If you’re not creating articles or white papers or eBooks…

If you’re not doing videos or podcasts or newsletters…

And if you’re not providing real value to your industry through owned media…

…you’re already behind.

The Future of Owned Media …

Because the future of owned media, as my friend David Hunegnaw says, is user-generated content.

David founded a site called BYLINED, which is a site that was built to help brands connect with those who create content.

(And, by-the-way, is one of the coolest things I’ve seen in a long time and I’m not saying that because he’s a friend. In fact, I tend to lean toward being more critical because he’s a friend. But it’s COOL.)

Take Apple, as an example.

Their “Shot on iPhone” campaign is probably the very best example of a user-generated owned media campaign.

But, in true Apple fashion, rather than create a hashtag and have people use that when they shoot fabulous photos on their phones, they scour the web looking for interesting art.

When they find it, and can prove it was shot using an iPhone, they pay the creators for the rights to use in the “Shot on iPhone” campaign.

Now imagine all of the billboards, print ads, bus wraps, content images, subway banners, and social media images they have…

…that was all created by their users.

Open Your Minds and Your Hearts

It’s at this point, when I speak in front of an audience, that someone inevitably raises their hand and asks:

Can I just skip the company-generated owned media and jump to the user-generated content?

Sure, I suppose you could.

But do you really think, if you haven’t spent time building your brand through owned media, that anyone will actually create content for you?

I mean, if you can, more power to you and I want to know how you do it.

But for the rest of us mere mortals, we have to create a foundation and build on it before any customer even thinks to create content based on our products or services.

And, sure, it’s a lot easier for a consumer brand, particularly if you’re Apple or Starbucks or GoPro.

But, as I challenged a client just yesterday, stop being crotchety and open your mind (I wasn’t that nice when I said it to him).

How can a business-to-business organization encourage user-generated content?

And what about a services business?

There is a ton of opportunity out there if you just allow yourself some quiet time to think and be creative.

Because, my friends, the future is user-generated content. And the future is here.

image credit: Apple newsroom from the Shot on iPhone campaign

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • @thepaulsutton @dannybrown so this Shot on an IPhone campaign. To me this would fit an honest paid ‘influencer’ campaign. The user already uses an IPhone. They are not asking for the user to place a deceptive native ad on their own website or blog etc. They pay the user for rights. And if you think that person isn’t then showing off the fact that Apple found their content and used it in advertising/promo on their own public and dark channels you have no pulse. What a brilliant campaign.

    @GiniDietrich I agree 100% with this post. The frustration I have always had working with small clients is convincing them to pay for resources for better content they own. ‘Well we already pay you to talk to people and make friends for us’. Yeah but a small investment in a nice 15 – 30 sec spot with a cable buy gets you the double bang. You get content you can reuse for promotion and a promo/ad campaign for not that big of an investment. That video can be used on social channels, web content, and if you do it right it can stay current for 2-3 years vs 1.

  • We were just having this very discussion with another client yesterday. UGC campaigns are a blast to create and drive, and they multitask by building community as part of the process of building content.

  • dare

    Gini have you ever heard of the Core Media Team Concept in public relations particularly used in crisis management. A colleague explained it to me a while back but I have not seen literature that examine the concept

    • Sorry for my delayed response! I’ve not heard of this, but can maybe guess what it means? Can you provide me some additional context so I can see if I can help?

  • Hi Gini,

    I just stumbled across your post and was pleasantly surprised to catch your mention of BYLINED.

    Today’s consumers want a more meaningful relationship with the brands they buy… they want to be a part of the brand story.

    That’s why we created BYLINED. We connect brands with their fans and customers for “owned” UGC… versus “earned” UGC.

    Owned UGC is the perfect way for brands to truly engage their fans UGC that can be used in digital/print/social campaigns without worry of licensing issues.

    And when brands own their UGC, they also own all of the metadata associated with the owned UGC, allowing them to build their email lists… they can also measure ROI.

    We’ve done Assignments for a number of brands… here’s photos of two of our fave photos. One for Donatos Pizza. Another for Jeep.

    Thanks for the BYLINED love, it means the world to me.


  • The way major players are focussing on their apps are strengthening their walks (AMP/InstantArticles), owned media could very well become a thing of the past. Those like yourself with a strong following are like the 300: determined but without reinforcements, tough to win that war.