As we round out our month-long PESO Model™ series, I’d like to spend some time talking about the O in the process—owned media. 

This is the one area I believe communicators can—and should—well, own, but am disappointed every time I see marketing take it over, and it becomes feature/benefit content. NO ONE wants to read, watch, or listen to content about features and benefits. They want to be told a story, which is something communicators are best suited to do.

That’s not to say marketers can’t do it. More that communicators have been trained to do it. Marketers focus on the brand, which includes features and benefits, and is more aligned with sales than with a narrative. Communicators, on the other hand, have learned how to engage several audiences at once (not just prospects), and, to do that, we’ve had to learn how to tell several different stories using the same messaging.

To boot, owned media is the one thing we can control. We control the messages, the story, the outcome, and the deliverability. The idea that we’re leaving that to marketers while we focus on things we can’t control (earned media, cough) is crazy! 

It’s time to step up and take control of owned media.

The 2023 Focus for Communicators

As we venture into 2023, there are three areas communicators are going to be responsible for: discrediting misinformation, teaching execs how to not only stand for their values and culture, but communicating it externally, and diversity, equality, and inclusion. 

This is because media distrust is incredibly high—and governmental bodies are joining their ranks. For the first time in maybe history, businesses are trusted and respected more than the Fifth Estate. 

While it’s incredibly sad to live in a world where that has happened, it’s a great opportunity for brands. If you can help your execs or clients and the organization build trust and reach beyond feature and benefit marketing content, owned media will be your 2023 (and beyond) best friend. 

Part of the reason organizations are more trusted today than government or traditional media is because of the commitments and actions so many of its people made during the pandemic. 

Advocating for social justice, protecting communities and the economy by keeping people safe at work, continuing the supply of household goods, fast-tracking vaccine production, providing small business loans, raising wages, and charitable commitments all created this trust and enhanced reputation. 

Building Your News Organization Plan

Yet, there is more work to be done, particularly if we’re all to change how society functions, not just in creating results for our organizations. Which means this is more than content marketing. Your owned media efforts focus instead on a news operation that’s fully integrated into the corporate marketing stack. 

Think about the people and organizations that influence your work every day. What is it about them that has made you decide to spend some of your time every day or week with them? It may be a blogger or a podcaster or a TikToker or a YouTube star (though I can’t think of many of those who are influencing work unless that’s what you aspire to be). Perhaps it’s the way an organization communicates through its content or how they’ve handled an issue or crisis in the past (I still really love how Fast Company handled being hacked—and continues to use some of the practices they put in during the emergency). 

Write down a list of these people and organizations that you trust enough to pay attention to what they’re saying. What are their similarities? How are they communicating in a way that builds your trust? What do you like most about their content? Is there anything you don’t like but put up with because it’s minor enough that it doesn’t lower your trust? 

The Things That Build Trust

The opportunity now for business leaders—and for the people telling the stories—is to assess what earns trust among your communities, set up matching priorities, monitor progress, and take quick action to admit and fix problems when they occur.

None of this is new to a communicator. It’s what we do naturally. But this can lead our strategic decisions and how we present our content.

A recent PWC survey found that there are four ways organizations can build trust they’ve already created:

  • Data protection and cybersecurity
  • Treating employees well
  • Ethical business practices
  • Admitting mistakes quickly and honestly

This means the organization is living and breathing these things—not that there is a PR campaign around them not supported by its claims.

Some Things That Don’t Work

For instance, if a company is required to meet diversity targets for its workforce and fails to achieve those goals, the executives lose pay. Or if a goal is set to increase wages for the lowest paid employees by a certain date and that goal isn’t met, those monies are taken from the highest paid employees. Or if a company’s culture is extolled externally, but it doesn’t match what the majority of Glassdoor reviews say or what you experience internally, there are financial consequences.  

Again, these are things you can’t implement, but you can affect them and certainly can communicate them. 

Build Trust Via Your News Organization

Now that you know what is going to build trust, you can set out to build your news organization that is fully integrated into the corporate marketing stack. Just like traditional news media, you’ll create a process that allows you to produce content on a consistent basis. It doesn’t have to be daily, or even weekly, but it does have to be consistent. Just like a newspaper or magazine, if you publish on the third Thursday of every month, ensure it’s the third Thursday of every month. 

The content will include news items and features, subject matter experts and executives, external and internal interviews—and videos, audio, and written content, alike. You’ll use it to provide a platform to showcase your values and your culture (the things people use today to decide whether or not to buy from you), the diversity, equality, and inclusion measures you’re taking, and to debunk misinformation. 

Once your plan is built, you’ll use the PESO Model to integrate and implement it. You, of course, already have the owned media portion ready to go. Then you’ll use shared media to distribute it, earned media to give it credibility (even in a world where your organization might be more credible than your local or trade media), and paid media to amplify it.

This is the wave of the future and, between you and me, it’s lots more fun than leading with earned media. Build trust, tell the story well, and use the PESO Model to communicate it. Suddenly you’ll have a beautiful machine that scales easily, builds awareness and trust, and helps sell.

PESO Model Implementation

If you’d like to learn more about using the PESO Model to build a news organization as part of the corporate marketing stack, join us in the Spin Sucks Community

It’s a community full of crazy smart professionals. It’s free, it’s fun, it’s smart…and you might just learn a thing or two from your peers. 

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich