Unlock the Power of Owned Content

May 20, 2024

The “O” in the PESO model (the four types of media representing the full interconnected landscape of channels for distributing your firm’s messages) stands for “owned,” the content your firm creates and distributes itself.

Building an effective media plan has to begin with creating great owned content because without it you cannot activate the three other media types (paid, social and earned).

  • Without excellent practice descriptions, attorney bios and articles, you have nothing to link to in paid advertising.
  • Without well-written news items and polished graphics, you have nothing to share on social.
  • Without concrete messaging, press releases and supporting materials, you have nothing to pitch to reporters.

Here’s what’s great about owned content: Your team has editorial control over it! Unlike the nail-biting experience that comes with earned media (pitching reporters and hoping for the best), owned content is guaranteed* to be high quality and on message. You decide on the story you want to tell about your firm, and you tell it in the precise way that makes sense for your brand and audiences. Owned media is also cost-effective compared with paid programs.

Here’s what’s challenging about owned content: You may have noticed an asterisk next to “guaranteed” above. As anyone with experience in content creation will tell you, that guarantee of control over owned content is actually contingent on a few factors you may or may not be able to influence:

  • Consensus and clarity on your firm’s strategic goals so that you can distill messaging and create content aligned to those goals
  • Availability of your subject-matter experts (attorneys and firm leaders) to give you the raw material you need and review drafts in a timely manner
  • Technological resources for designing appealing content and posting it where you want it on the website

If one or more of these factors is not going well for you, it may seem like that guarantee of editorial control is slipping through your fingers. But don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Make big plans and expect to encounter obstacles along the way. You may not be able to create everything on your content wish list, but with flexibility and creative problem-solving, so you deliver excellent owned content that lays the foundation for your work across the other types of media.

As you consider where to direct your energy in the owned content category, think beyond traditional owned formats. Owned content also includes:

  • Internal communications — Internal firm newsletters are a great place to tell stories of achievements and client service, and spotlight accomplishments and activities of individual attorneys. And this material can seed earned media by creating opportunities for pitches and social media posts.
  • Firm newsletters — Staying in regular touch with your clients is key, and newsletters are a great way to push out website content that may be shared beyond your network. The secret to success here is understanding your contact list and embracing segmentation to ensure that your content is targeted and relevant to the people who receive it. Check out these best practices for segmenting your list and think carefully about which content is the best fit for each of your segments.
  • All website content — Obviously, your home page and practice descriptions need constant tinkering and updating as your firm’s service offerings evolve and groups change shape. Second to that in importance are your attorney bios. Surveys consistently show that this is the destination for most visitors to your site. A prospective client receives a referral from a colleague and wants to learn more about the attorney’s experience before reaching out. Bios need to be crafted from the client’s perspective. Here’s how to do it.
  • Client alerts — So many firms do not understand that the way you handle client alerts is an expression of your firm’s brand. If they are inconsistently formatted, too long, too frequent or not frequent enough, hard to understand or otherwise annoying, client alerts communicate that you are not thinking much about what your clients need. This is a category of communications that needs far more attention. Here’s how to do better.
  • Thought leadership articles published to your website, LinkedIn and other owned platforms. Yes, LinkedIn is a social platform, and we’ll cover more about social practices when we get to the “S” in PESO. But you need to create high-quality content in order to share it. Help attorneys who want to write and publish create a content plan and editorial calendar, draft and polish content and share it on the appropriate channels. This can seed pitches for earned media, speaking gigs and RFPs.

Feeling overwhelmed by your owned media to-do list? Give us a call!