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The Owned Media Observer

The Owned Media Observer

By Shane Schick
A podcast that applies media criticism to content marketing -- identifying which of the new breed of publishers is best serving their audience, where the biases are and what others can learn.

Season 3 coming September, 2020
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How Costco Connection Became One Of America's Biggest Magazines
Being an executive member of the grocery and retail giant has its privileges -- specifically a print and online publication that's filled with recipes, health advice, tech tips and feature interviews.  In this episode I explore:  The balance Costco Connection strikes between true editorial and flat-out PR What's missing from the mix, and where Costco Connection could be improved Ideas from Costco Connection other content marketers to adapt and apply Links:
September 30, 2020
The Coca-Cola Journey Brought Soft Drink Stories To Fans Around The World, But Did It Go Far Enough?
More than 20 international editions. More than 12,000 pieces of content published in the first year. Available in 14 different languages. The scale at which Coke developed its digital magazine may be unprecedented. But what has it actually been saying, and how well does it resonate since the project began in 2012?  Links in this episode:
March 05, 2020
Why Uber's Vehicle Magazine (Like Its Previous Two Publications) May Have Stalled
First came 'Arriving Now,' aimed at riders attending New York Fashion Week in 2015. Then there was 'Momentum,' which offered content exclusively for its drivers. Most recently was 'Vehicle,' a digital magazine that focused on Washington in Seattle. It doesn't appear to have been updated since its launch two years ago, but remains a fascinating study in how the startup that ignited the sharing economy has been trying to change the narrative.  Links in this episode:
February 28, 2020
Open Up California Closets' Ideas Of Order Magazine To See How It Makes Space For All Kinds Of Stories
In the beginning there was HUSH magazine, but after initially backing away from the idea of its own publication, California Closets decided to do a sort of renovation, or rebuild. The result is Ideas Of Order, now in only its third issue in three years. Get a sense of why a closet company needs more than a catalog, and come away with ideas about beauty, confidence and joy.  Links in this episode:
February 21, 2020
A Close Read Of Lithub, The Site That Gave Book Publishing The Online Salon It Needed
It was a highly ambitious goal: to find and curate what's best about contemporary literature on the web and bring it into one place. Similar projects had already failed. Yet Grove Atlantic, in partnership with the magazine Electric Literature, has pulled off something extraordinary. If you work in marketing for an industry that's facing disruption, find out how one of the most analogue forms of communication is making a home for itself on the Internet.  Links in this episode:
February 13, 2020
How Morsel by Plated Found The Winning Recipe For Food Content Marketing
Its home delivery service may be no more, but the startup now owned by grocery firm Albertson's should look at continuing Plated's culinary content hub, which has all the right ingredients to build and sustain a community of foodies. And even if you're in a completely different kind of market, I offer some perspective on how you could apply Plated's approach to connecting and building relationships with customers.  Links In This Episode:
February 07, 2020
Unpacking Away's Here Magazine And The Power Of Branded Travel Writing
Away is best known for its chic but affordable luggage -- or at least it was, until a news story revealed a toxic work culture that stemmed from its controversial CEO.  In another part of the company, though, sits Here Magazine -- an owned media property that uses some standard elements of the genre but offers some very personal takes on them. And there are some ways the content marketing reflects the brand in ways I never expected.  Links In This Episode:
January 31, 2020
The Priceless Lessons Wealthsimple Magazine Could Teach Content Marketers
It was already being bold and innovative by entering the world of "robo-advisors," but Wealthsimple has become as noticeable for its storytelling as for some of its other business moves. Wealthsimple Magazine, which evolved from a blog called Grow, has created several major content pillars, the best known of which -- Money Diaries -- contains human-centered narratives that will outlast their use in helping build affinity with customers. Believe me, this episode will be worth listening to.  Links in this episode:
January 24, 2020
How First Round Review Became The Favorite Read Of Startup Founders Everywhere
It's published by a venture capital firm but the quality of its editorial-style writing and editing has drawn flattering comparisons with the Harvard Business Review. Learn about a publication that's stayed true to its mission for seven years, despite operating in one of the most disruptive areas of business -- and setting a high bar not only for other content marketing teams, but other business magazines.  Links in the episode:
January 17, 2020
Kickstarter’s The Creative Independent Shows An Investment In Content Pays Off
The demise of Coolest Cooler may give crowdfunding a bad name, but don’t blame Kickstarter. It’s merely the platform for allowing such projects to potentially happen, and it offers value in other ways, too. In this episode, I explore its slightly zany digital magazine, The Creative Independent, and discuss why interviews with poets, musicians and artists contribute to one of its core mandates as a brand. Links to sources in this episode:
December 12, 2019
What Makes Airbnb Magazine Worth Exploring
Its first attempt at content marketing -- a quarterly print publication called Pineapple -- lasted only one issue. With Airbnb Magazine, however, the company best known for disrupting the hospitality space has tried to do something similar with one of the most hackneyed genres: Travel writing.  In this episode I journey through some truly exceptional pieces of writing, while also taking into consideration the stories left untold that pose considerable challenges for a brand like Airbnb.  Links from this episode:
December 05, 2019
The Players' Tribune is looking to win in sports media. Here's the score so far.
It's billed as "The Voice Of The Game," and with a new partnership with Minute Media, the sports platform co-founded by Derek Jeter is set to become even louder. This has not been a storytelling property without its challenges, however. Although it may not fit the normal definition of owned media, I think the Players' Tribune's ups and downs offer a lot of perspective for content marketers trying to create a similar showcase for subject matter expertise. Links In This Episode:
November 28, 2019
In Search Of Van Winkle’s, The Lost Digital Magazine Dreamt Up By Casper
Top-notch writing, rave reviews from content marketers, recognition from the Webby Awards -- none of it was enough to guarantee the suvival of Van Winkle's, a digital publication launched by Casper prior to its current print quarterly and web site, Wolly.  In this episode I decided to take a closer look into the Van Winkle's archives -- which turned out to be harder to access than you might assume -- and provide some reflections on the end results so that brands who want to try something similar can do so with their eyes wide open.  Notes:
November 21, 2019
Equinox flexes its editorial muscles to make gains with Furthermore Magazine
If Equinox is "a temple of well-being," (as the brand describes itself), Furthermore magazine is probably almost like a bible for its true believers.  The luxury fitness company has been producing the publication since 2016, and it has steadily expanded into subject matter that includes not only  tips for working out but style and travel. There's also a lot of great video and social content, but in this episode I'm taking a deeper look at the stories that form the magazine's core -- just like one of its trainers would probably focus on strengthening the core of your body before moving onto "mirror muscles."  What does Furthermore really offer Equinox members, though? And what about those who aren't members? Join me in exercising some critical thinking skills and maybe get your own content marketing efforts in better shape.  ________________ The Owned Media Observer is a podcast for content marketers who want to do better work, for media professionals who want to size up their competition, and audiences of all kinds who want to better understand all the new sources of information popping up everywhere around them. I'm Shane Schick, a journalist and content marketer focused on business, technology, marketing and fashion.  Notes: Articles mentioned in this episode:
November 14, 2019
How Dollar Shave Club is putting a fresh face on men's lifestyle publications with Mel Magazine
"Bro bibles like GQ, Esquire and Playboy seem poised to do a backpedal of Michael Jackson moonwalk proportions from the formula that kept them perched at the publishing pinnacle for a half-century," according to a Nov. 2 story that ran on the New York Times. The same, however, cannot be said of Mel Magazine. Produced by Unilever-owned Dollar Shave Club, Mel Magazine not only seems to be continuing the path laid out by those more traditional publications, but to be maintaining standards of journalism and quality that others have had to sacrifice. Yes, there's still a bit of "bro" tone in there, but it is too much? What are the details that really make the difference? And what can other brands -- even those who aren't targeting a specific demographic like men -- learn from Mel Magazine? I explore these questions and more in this first full episode of The Owned Media Observer.  Notes:  Mel Magazine:  (FYI: I make a comment later in the episode about not seeing a lot of LGBTQ content. I've since learned there's actually a whole section of such content here:  NYT: As Men Are Canceled, So Too Their Magazine Subscriptions: 'Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,' Gay Talese: About the host:
November 06, 2019
The Owned Media Observer: An Introduction
Brands are acting more like publishers than ever before, but we lack a traditional form of media criticism to suss out examples of who's truly serving their audience who's innovating and who could set the bar for others.  This is a podcast for content marketers who want to do better work, for media professionals that want to get a better sense of their new competition, and for audiences of all kinds that want to assess these new sources of information that are emerging everywhere around them.  In this episode, host Shane Schick looks back on his decision to expand beyond traditional journalism to content marketing, the inspiration of the Owned Media Observer podcast and some ground rules for how future episodes will work. 
September 30, 2019