Getting to grips with POEM

Paid, owned and earned media (POEM)
Don’t worry, you haven’t stumbled across a ‘Poetry for beginners’ post (I’m afraid I never mastered that particular literary art!) but one about the different types of media marketers can use to connect with consumers.

POEM stands for paid, owned and earned media, and all three types should be used by marketers to create a robust, integrated marketing plan. Each type has pros and cons and some forms of media can be leveraged more easily by some companies than others. The trick is to find a balance that works.

So what is paid, owned and earned media and how are they used?

Paid media

Paid media involves purchasing media – either directly or through an agency – such as sponsorship, paid search or advertising. A company will buy media space on someone else’s media ‘property’and promote their products and services accordingly.

The huge benefit of paid media is that it is easily accessible, giving any company the opportunity to broadcast and control their message within a particular channel (providing, of course, they have the money and resource to do so).

However, the drawback of paid media in today’s increasingly interactive and democratic mediascape is that paid media doesn’t offer the credibility it once did. Consumers are becoming more media savvy whilst relying on word-of-mouth recommendations and referrals from their peers.

Owned media

Owned media is where a company or brand controls the media channel, for example using a website, blog or presence on social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter (although this is probably better defined as partially-owned media).

I have always been an advocate for companies creating interesting, diverse and interactive websites precisely because this becomes their piece of online real estate from which a message can be tailored and controlled to reflect exactly what the brand is trying to convey.

Building an effective website takes a lot of time and effort but is nevertheless extremely cost effective considering the vast potential it can bring in the long term. In addition to this, a great company blog, co-ordinated with a relevant social media presence, gives brands the opportunity to reach out and form relationships with consumers by creating immersive, dialogue-orientated online experiences.

Earned media

Earned media was traditionally the remit of public relations, where ‘free’ media would be obtained through promotional efforts and editorial influence. However, earned media has since evolved, primarily as a result of the emergence of of web 2.0 and social media.

Earned media can therefore be defined as conversations, discussions and ‘buzz’ around a product or brand that is not being controlled by a single source but organically via a community or customer group. The idea is that a company earns the conversations of others by reaching out and giving people a reason to enthuse about them. The customer becomes the channel.

Although money isn’t exchanged, earned media isn’t free. Whilst you do not pay for placements within traditional media outlets you must instead pay in time, effort and resources and this is probably the biggest disadvantage of earned media for many companies. Earned media isn’t easy to achieve and for many paying for an advertisement is quick, simple and often easier to calculate ROI.

Nevertheless, the advantages earned media offers is vast. By listening and responding to consumers and generating positive word-of-mouth, transparency and credibility are at their highest and brings down the barriers between a brand and its customers generating goodwill and customer advocates. Great social media efforts can have a viral effect within online communities and beyond and live on after a campaign has ended.

Combining them all

It’s important for any brand to consider all three types of media and use POEM as part of an integrated media strategy. Paid media should be used along with dedicated owned media efforts to generate conversation among the customer groups and communities that matter.

Brands must take the time to discover the right places to interact with consumers on social media channels and encourage constituents to engage with them within owned media channels. It’s about finding the right people and giving them something to talk about.