How to Own Your Company's Owned Media And Prevent Others From Stealing It Creating your own media isn't enough: You need to truly make it your own if you want to stand out.

By Kimberly Zhang

entrepreneur daily

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Media is the answer to just about every question in business today. How do you increase brand awareness? Media. How do you generate new leads? Media. What is your business's primary method of image control? Media, media, media.

Related: A Simple 3-Step Approach to Successful Social Media Advertising

Companies are increasingly investing in content marketing and owned media as ways of forming customer relationships, but new entrants into these worlds should be aware of their pitfalls — one of the biggest being loss of ownership. Once you create media, be it a video, infographic or even just a clever tweet, you run the risk of having it plagiarized or hijacked by others. Here's how you can ensure that your owned media is yours alone to hold:

1. Angle towards earned media

Owned media is content that your business creates itself, whereas earned media is content done about your business by an independent creator, normally a news outlet or blog. The two work great in tandem — according to ecommerce platform BigCommerce, earned media was found to be 88% more trustworthy than a content portfolio that relied on owned media alone — and combining them can give you a lock on your owned media as well.

For example, if your business creates a viral video, that virality will often be reported on by various news outlets that will then credit it back to the original source, making it more difficult for your content to be infringed upon. Attribution to your business by a prominent news outlet can be a strong deterrent for content thieves. Create owned media that invites the attention of earned media, and the power of both types of content will increase.

2. Create a strategy

The promise of owned media is an alluring one: Just start creating your own content and deploy it on the web, right? The reality is a little bit more complicated. Without a cohesive strategy, your media will appear haphazard and lacking in voice. Most concerning, it will make it easier for bad actors to steal and publish it as their own. If you don't have a strategy, you don't know what was published where, by whom, and who saw it — perfect ingredients for it to slip through the cracks.

Related: Why Your Brand Should Double Down on Owned Media

Every bit of content you create should be planned out and curated ahead of time in order to craft an overarching message about your business. This ensures that any media created by your company can be immediately recognized as such by someone who watches it — it's hard to copy something that consumers would widely recognize as part of your style. Once you've got that set, make a content calendar that determines where, when and how your media is deployed, so that you can keep tabs on everything you put out there.

An owned media strategy helps you keep tabs on the circulation of everything your business creates, but the benefits don't just stop there. Digital rights management platform Aux Mode reports that some content creators have seen a subscriber increase of over 600% after adopting a long-term content strategy. Not only can you keep your media secure, but you can also give it further reach simply by giving it some much-needed direction.

3. Stay away from stock content

Part of owning your owned media is curating every aspect of it — the messaging, the visual style, the circulation and so on. Although there's nothing inherently wrong with appropriately using pre-created elements such as a stock photos or videos, it does run the risk of leaving your media in an ambivalent relationship with your business writ large.

Related: Are You Ready to Start With Paid Media? Here's What You Need to Know

If you regularly use stock photos, someone else might use those same stock photos in order to infringe on the style of your media, and there's not much you can do to stop them. Try to make all aspects of your content completely original, as the benefits go far beyond media security: A survey conducted by infographic platform Venngage found that although 40% of marketers use stock content more frequently than original content, only 13% believe that it produces the best results — 40% believed that original illustrations and infographics produced the optimal outcomes.

Creating your own media isn't enough: You need to truly make it your own if you want to stand out. The more distinct, eye-catching and memorable it is, the harder it will be for anyone else to claim it as their own.

Kimberly Zhang

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

Chief Editor of Under30CEO

Kimberly Zhang, president and editor in chief of Under30CEO, has a passion for educating the next generation of leaders.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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