Social media is popular for various reasons including the fact that it’s easy to reach people and that it’s free. Media such as advertising and marketing often is not free, so for many companies it is hard, if not impossible, to find room in the budget. For companies who don’t mind taking a leap of faith, there’s another option, one that TerraCycle relies heavily upon: owned media.
I say “leap of faith” because sometimes you have to shell out some cash to create the owned media, and then be patient and wait for the fruit of your efforts to materialize. Here at TerraCycle, we just started a bi-weekly podcast that documents eco-tips, eco-news, and features interviews with key players from our partners such as Elmer’s, Dropps, and Garnier as well as leading voices from the sustainable industry.
Of course there was some limited start-up capital required to outfit one of our tiny meeting rooms: making the space soundproof, purchasing a podcast mic and sound equipment, and making sure our social media manager had the most appropriate sound editing programs on his computer. So, how do we justify spending the money on something that won’t bring us outright income?
Well, the podcast is an affordable investment. The start up cost wouldn’t have paid for a few days of Google Ads and this piece of owned media (the podcast itself) becomes a multi-use platform. When people hear the podcast, they learn about the company, its mission, and then (hopefully) are encouraged to sign up for the TerraCycle Brigade program and help us collect and recycle waste! Moreover, we can offer interviews to our valued partners and create or solidify relationships with industry leaders.
Other pieces of owned media include books, TV shows, company magazines, and blogs. Some of these require a larger output of money, but in return the outcome can be greater. The product can end up paying for itself. Additionally, with things like magazines, you can partner with advertisers to help foot some of the costs involved.
Some pieces of owned media will be more of a challenge than others. You can always write your own blog, you can’t just sign up to have a TV show. As with all things, it’s easier to start small, at TerraCycle we began blogging for smaller sites years ago, today we write for the New York Times, Treehugger and other major news sites. TerraCycle was in the media long before the founder and CEO, Tom Szaky, wrote his book and appeared on the National Geographic Channel with TerraCycle’s show “Garbage Moguls.” But any company can find a unique engaging angle worth pitching for a show or a book; just turn on your TV to find a 100 examples of small business turned reality TV hit show.
Additionally, you have to remind yourself that owned media is an investment. There’s cost involved, and while it may pay for itself in the long run, you’ll have to be patient. For the less patient, or for those who can’t (or don’t want to!) put up the cash, blogs are a great option. Social media partnerships allow for collaborating with like-minded businesses and charities and you can support each other’s causes with guest posts and mentions.
The vital element is this: you must remember what you can offer to other people, not always what they can do for you, and you should keep in mind popular media and how people are consuming content these days.
For TerraCycle’s podcast, visit iTunes and search “Talking Trash with TerraCycle” or visit www.terracycle.podbean.com.