The five pillars of your media empire

Wouldn’t it be great to have the media clout of Oprah Winfrey, Arianna Huffington, Rupert Murdock, or Mark Zukerberg? While all these icons have carved out substantial media empires on broadcast, print and online platforms, never before has there been such opportunity to leverage your own content and channels in building awareness and a brand position. If you’ve got expertise and knowledge, you should be building your own media empire.

Three compelling reasons to build your media empire:

  1. Authority: Be seen as the expert, the one who gets the calls, the quotes, and let’s face it, the business!
  1. Search: Be the most visible. You want to dominate SEO without ever paying for it, simply because of the volume and quality of your content and knowledge.
  2. Engagement: Build community; generate engagement with your brand, which ultimately leads to sales.

The five pillars of your media empire:

1. Owned media: These are your media assets. Your assets include things like your website, blog, enewsletter, podcast, webinar, and video. As such, you own them, which is a good thing, since nobody can change the rules of how they are used except you. And you host them within owned properties of your media empire. Anchors are key players for search, authority and engagement. Ultimately you want your other four pillars to drive people back to your anchor content, on your owned platforms. Your owned media are where you will convert exposure and engagement into sales.

2. Rented media: Think of these as rented property. Rented media include social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Instagram, Pintrest, Vine, Youtube etc. While you customize them like your own property, often decorating them like a home and taking ownership, ultimately someone else owns them and can change the rules at any time. They could charge you more rent, restrict your access, or use your property if they want to. But before you think of them too much like a nasty landlord, you must also consider the power and opportunity they can deliver. Social media platforms have the ability to broadcast and share content, and by their nature, they offer two-way engagement, which helps build community around your brand. Rented media should be used to broadcast and engage, but ultimately drive people back to your anchor content. That’s where you own them and that’s where you’ll convert the relationship or sale.

3. Earned media: This is third party endorsement. In the traditional sense it is when a print of broadcast media company publishes something about your business, giving it visibility, without you paying for it. But it could also include other online media like the Huffington Post, industry authorities through their social media, or well read blogs. Since it is an earned property and it can’t be purchased, it is coveted and valued. Usually these days coverage by other media outlets includes content online, which is great, since you can feed those links back into your outpost media engines and also feature it in your anchored content. If you earn media coverage, maximize the exposure as much as you possibly can.

4. Embedded media: Embedded media is where you publish or broadcast as an author using the reach of an established platform. To the reader, you appear to be contracted by the organization to provide content either regularly as a columnist, or on occasion as a contributor. You could also be a regular commentator on a radio or TV broadcast, or you might be contacted on occasion to comment as an authority on a particular subject. Embedded media can provide tremendous reach (such as the Huffington Post or New York Times) or they can solidify you as an expert if you are featured regularly in an industry publication for your niche.

5. Paid media: This is the strategic stuff you do to boost and promote content online to a selected audience. It could include boosting posts, Google ad words, paid featured content, pop up ads or SEO. It used to be that a Facebook Like meant that everyone who “liked” your business received the post in his or her feed. Since going public and needing to show revenue, they have closed the “Like” funnel down. Current estimates are that 7-10% of content gets through to the folks that like your page. To reach the rest, you need to boost your posts. The good news is, boosting can be relatively inexpensive, and offer the opportunity to be very strategic and picky about who the post is delivered to. Of all the social media platforms out there, Facebook likely represents the broadest spectrum of the population, so depending on your offering this could be a strategically good route. I’d suggest experimenting and then measuring with analytics to see the effects on site visits and links. Overall I’d exercise caution and only go with platforms your audience uses a lot, and monitor closely what works and what doesn’t. Gone are the days of not knowing what works. Measure and monitor if you’re going to spend money on paid media.

Success comes when all five pillars are leveraged together

The successful building of brand awareness through content marketing usually has at least three and oftentimes four or all five of the media pillars. Original content is created and shared on several owned platforms. Social media is used to broadcast widely and create engagement. If earned media picks up the story, it is fed back through outposts to generate more interest and ultimately drive people back to the anchored content. If embedded media is in the mix, links to it can be shared through owned and rented platforms. Sometimes paid is also used strategically to fuel outposts and drive people to the owned content, or to generate awareness and coverage by earned media. While the pillars of your media empire are separate entities, if used well with their purpose and unique abilities in mind, they build on each other offering you incredible media content clout.

Mary Charleson


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