The most important thing you can do as a leader of an owned media initiative is manage your resources, including your outside partners. Set the appropriate boundaries for your partners, and communicate those boundaries.
If they want to contribute across the multiple disciplines of owned, earned and paid media, by all means, collaborate with them, but don’t ask your public relations firm to buy your media, or ask your agency to pitch stories for you, or ask your owned media team to develop your brand strategy. Use the right tool for the right job, and keep those tools in their respective tool boxes if they won’t stay there of their own accord.
One of the best clients Raidious has ever worked with included outside partners from an SEO firm, a media buying firm, a web design firm, a branding agency, as well as a large internal PR department, all on the same initiative.
Right before our first collaborative meeting, our client sent an email to all of us: “Please check your business card at the door. This is not the place to pitch your services. You are here as an extension of our team.”
It was simple, direct and to the point – and highly effective. It’s OK to set some ground rules for your internal and external partners, so everyone knows they are there to work for you within their area of expertise.
Make no mistake, every marketing services firm is in business to make money. They do that by making you successful, but if opportunities arise on the fringes of their scope of work, they are going to ask for the business. And if they don’t arise organically, these firms will bring them to your attention.
This is not a bad thing by any means, but being aware of your team’s limits, experience and expertise – and using the right tool for the right job – will make your owned media efforts more focused, easier to manage and ultimately more successful.
Marketing agencies might understand your whole goal of owned media, and many of them are making a move in this direction. Good marketing agencies understand the new relationship-based marketing era social media has ushered in. They understand word-of-mouth marketing; they know where social media fits into the mix and can make it part of a larger strategy.
Their writers tend to be focused more on writing marketing copy than the kind of compelling stories you will be looking for, although many of them can easily make the switch with a little rethinking.
Occasionally, they will have a writer who has some journalistic experience, whether they came from the newsroom or public relations, and can write the kinds of stories you need for an owned media campaign.
However, not all marketing agencies have embraced social media. Some of them recognize that it’s not their strength, and so they won’t offer it at all.
Still others have added it to their service offering, but their solution is usually to hire a couple of coordinator-level staff members to actually do the social media work.
We know a few agencies that “offer” social media services, but their strategy has been to sell it through their account executives, who have no social media experience, short of the Twitter account they set up two years ago, and haven’t used since.
The account execs typically have the coordinators actually do the work. What ends up happening is the coordinators come up with a passable channel-specific approach, but it is not the fully integrated strategy that a seasoned pro could create, and it is usually an afterthought from strategic perspective.
The best agencies have fully embraced social media. They use it as a regular part of their strategy, and they see it as one more tool in the marketing toolbox, not just an afterthought.