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Using paid, owned and earned channels to drive customer endorsement and brand recognition

Jeff Watt | 12.07.2022

Every financial institution that we work with has its own target market, audiences, geographic area of operation, products and brand identity.

While each firm has its own unique characteristics, personality and business goals, at heart they all have the same core communications ambition – that is to maintain a healthy and positive relationship with their various audiences, be they customers, prospects, business partners or competitors.

Ultimately this helps to build a good reputation for their firm and, in times of trouble, provides some protection against unforeseen challenges that they may face.

But while they might all have a similar communications end goal, how they get to this point, and the tools they employ, can vary significantly.

One of the growing trends we see in the communications strategies employed by our clients is the combination of paid (e.g., advertising), owned (e.g. a firm’s website) and earned (e.g. editorial) media to reach and influence their customers and build their brands.

So, a single theme or topic might be used as the subject for writing a blog that appears in a specialist financial industry trade publication.

It could be used to create content for the firm’s website and social media channels, as well as be distributed directly to existing and potential clients, perhaps via a white paper, research or a speaker platform.

The firm might also create a video interview, perhaps involving a client or other industry expert, to be posted on their website or YouTube channel with clips sent at regular intervals on Twitter and Instagram.

How firms mix their investment in paid, owned and earned media will depend on their objectives (and, of course, budget). Among our clients we see a preference towards more cost effective earned and owned media rather than higher cost paid.

Specifically, we notice that it is increasingly difficult to get good quality earned coverage as the media landscape evolves and becomes more crowded. There is less space devoted to company news and press releases but on the flip side, as media have less resource to write content themselves, they seek industry professionals (our clients) to provide expert commentary in the form of byline articles.

Furthermore, with a rapidly changing media landscape, in part accelerated by the after-effects of Covid, there are new channels and opportunities for firms to be content creators and owners.  For example, there is huge scope to increase output not just on LinkedIn but also via podcasts and on platforms like Facebook, as well as creating video content for channels such as YouTube.  And the same content deployed here can be re-packaged for use on earned channels too.

We also see opportunities for paid to shift towards being more thought leadership-lead as firms work with media owners to create bespoke events such as panel discussions on the topics relevant to their business or industry, with output also written-up as pieces of expert commentary.

When you think about it, combining paid, owned and earned media channels is simply a logical extension of any communications campaign.  With great content sitting at the heart of all three, activity in one channel supports and complements activity in another, thereby creating a virtuous circle of growing audience endorsement and greater brand recognition.

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