Stories sell, choose well

Owned, earned and paid media platforms

Stories sell, choose well

Persuasive copywriting the craft of convincing people to try or buy whatever it is that you have to sell.

Brand storytelling is the art of elevating persuasive copywriting into a consistent series of stories that becomes a platform for a business or brand – something I call “owned media”.

Owned media is really the platform from which your stories can be told. It’s all one big P.O.E.M of paid, owned and earned media.

Earned media is the social shares and word of mouth you generate, and paid media is the advertising you can use to boost your owned and earned media. Content marketing is the strategy that wraps Owned, Earned and Paid media up to grow a business.


Newspapers are the most classic platform of “owned media”, in that each day they tell new stories that (ideally) build ever-increasing influence and trust amongst its audience.

Artists and performers have a unique form of “owned media” – their reputations, their reviews, websites and social media are all features of the platform that supports their sales.

So let’s take a look at an America’s Grammy-award winning violinist Joshua Bell. He has a detailed website, which asks fans to sign up with an email address to access gallery photos. He probably sends those fans regular email updates of where he is playing.

Bell also has a good social media presence on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Heck, he even has a MySpace profile.

Essentially, Bell makes most of his money from ticket sales to his classical music performances. Bell’s owned and earned platforms are an ‘always on’ way to promote himself and tell the story of his passion for classical music.

This week, Bell is playing in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and tickets are selling for between $45 and $125, depending on where you sit in the theatre.

Just below is a 10-year-old video from a Pulitzer-prize winning Washington Post story  about Bell playing in an unpublicised busking event at the subway in which he was ignored by more than 1000 people and earned a total of $32, even though experts said he would earn at least $150.

Bell’s 2007 busking experience was in stark contrast to his concert performances, where he earns up to $1000 a minute from audiences who appreciate his special talent.

Seven years after the Washington Post experiment, Bell did a similar busking event but actually publicised it, no doubt using his owned and earned platforms.  You can watch the video of the 2014 event below.

“I felt like one of the Beatles today,” he said of the 2014 busking event. “We need to experiment with more creative ways of reaching audiences.” Publicity, platforms and promotion can change everything, right?

The problem with Joshua’s 2007 busking experience was that he didn’t have a sign or a context for his ‘story’ as a violin virtuoso while he busked. When Bell played without his ‘story’ – or platform – Bell could not earn as much as he when he has an appreciative audience that sees his special talents.

And this tale is probably the same for most brands or businesses, not just classical music artists. If you don’t have an owned platform, you have no way to communicate what makes your business unique and able to command a premium price.

No-one is saying that all businesses need a brand storytelling platform, but you do at least need a web and social media presence enables you to start building something that shows off your unique voice and promise to customers.

How much – or little – brand storytelling you do is up to you. Though it’s possibly one of the best investments you could make …