“Owned media” is on the mind of clients and is changing the PR mix

COVID-19 makes everything happen faster – and using “owned media” is on the rise. Of course, with Covid-19 dominating all traditional media, opportunities for “earned media” have declined. On top of that, major media is shrinking the numbers of journalists.

Add technology to this mix and you have a big change for PR.

India is leading this change in the PR mix.

Kunal Kishore, founder director -Value 360 Communications makes a prediction – “Previously earned media made up the majority of external communications. In the future there will be a good balance on earned and owned media for brands. This balance could be 70-30 or even 60 -40 (Majority going to earned media).”

PR firms in India have been alert to this shift and many are hiring aggressively from journalism for this shift to “owned content”.

One of the leading innovators in this PR shift is Sujit Patil, vice president and head of corporate communications, Godrej Industries Limited, who says: “Consumers today prefer to have a direct channel of dialogue with brands, there is also sadly a shrinking trust in media channels due to the fake and paid news. The issue of authenticity and the blurring lines between earned content and paid content has resulted in activating a sense of ‘ad-blocking’ in the minds of consumers.”

Patil describes “owned media” as a slow burn process.

“The key aspect of any communication strategy is to generate awareness and engagement amongst the existing and potential audience of the brand. While earned, paid and social media are mediums to do this, essentially, they offer lesser control on the narrative.

”Owned media gives brands the opportunity to share stories creatively with their customers, and vice-versa albeit with more control…it builds a bridge between customers and brands to engage with each other more experientially, authentically and effectively.”

Kunal Kishore makes the point that “owned media” was always important. Brands were using it reach their end stakeholders even before.

”For example, Lufthansa worked with TiE to create a start-up symposium to communicate with entrepreneurs. After COVID-19, this has become multifold. Discovery of content by brands has become very important, and they have discovered that a digital footprint travels”.

Aniruddha Atul Bhagwat, chief executive officer, Ideosphere says, “In today’s post-COVID digital world, established brands as well as emerging businesses are finding the first opportunity in owned media to not only reach out to the external world, but also bring their internal teams together, spark engagement, and fuel collaborative innovation in remote, omni-present work environments.”

Partha Ghosh, vice president and head, corporate communications, Samsung India & South West Asia commented that, “The pandemic has transformed the way people are consuming media, with a definitive shift towards digital. During this period, brands have developed great appreciation for owned media as a platform to tell unique and authentic stories to consumers and other external stakeholders.”  

Examples of Owned Media PR driven properties 

Sujit Patil explains the thinking and impact of the PR led property Godrej L’Affaire, In the last four years it has grown as a strong community and platform that brings together brands, influencers and customers. The platform provides experiences in all things’ lifestyle – food, fashion, travel, music and wellness.

“We launched it as over 7 our businesses and many brands at Godrej are in the lifestyle space. Making the platform brand agnostic (meaning external non-competing brands in the lifestyle space also made a part of the platform) has actually helped create a positive rub-off on smaller brands,” according to Patil.

Nandita Lakshmanan, CEO, The PRactice says, “We believe we will see more clients who will recognize the value of owned assets like resource portals, blogs, newsletters, magazines, podcasts, video channels, documentaries, short films. For example, for a real estate client, we decided to focus on LinkedIn and blogs as well as launched a podcast series, while focusing on the work they did with their foundation.”

Getting Owned Media Right 

Patil says the theory of gate-keepers of journalism is offset in owned media with the theory of RECCE (Relevance, Engagement, Content, Community, Experience). Since the customer experience and brand ethos are the core of owned media platforms, it pushes brands to create Relevancy among its target consumers to drive Engagement using interesting Content which eventually leads to Community building through Experience (RECCE).

Kishore suggests organisations should be alert to the quality of content, the credibility and authority of the person sharing the content, transparency, interactivity, listening and curating content.

It’s the fast changing world of Public Relations.