International Market Communication is a multi-level strategy game that is tied to the overall business strategy of the company as well. Today’s digital landscape provides companies with huge potential to leverage not just the paid methods of communication but also the unpaid (earned, owned) methods of communications. What are these different paid and unpaid methods of communications, how do we benefit from using the different tactics involved and how they can be integrated with each other to optimize communication resources.

At the core, International Market Communications is all about communicating the value of your product or service to customers and developing a long-term brand image is vital to success. To promote your product/company/service. Without promotions, your ability to create awareness and favourable attitudes within target segments is limited. These promotions can be broadly broken down into two channels that they communicate through: Paid or unpaid (owned, earned).

Paid media like the name denotes is everything that the company pays for. The company is paying to leverage a channel with the aim of driving traffic to their owned media (web sites, blogs), and landing new business. Paid media needs to be focused, well planned, and effectively executed, and include compelling calls-to-action in order to deliver exactly what your prospective customer is looking for. Advertising is majority of the paid part of a marketing communication strategy that includes paid broadcast, print or other media messages. Television, radio, newspapers, magazines and online media constitute the common, traditional media used by advertisers to present messages. Billboards, directories, aerial and transit media are support media used in advertising. By paying for ad messages, you typically have greater influence over the placement time and place, as well as the message itself, since you buy this service from the medium.

Unpaid media further has two components to it. It can be communication through ‘earned’ channels that put the target audience/customer in the driving seat like word of mouth or social media shares. Or be ‘owned’ channels like all of the properties that belong to the brand or business. That can be websites, blogs, social media channels, apps, and stores (online and offline). Both paid and earned media are designed to drive prospects to the owned media estate and its strength is critical to converting them into paying customers. Publicity makes up the bulk of unpaid communications. Publicity is any type of unpaid media coverage, such as a newspaper article or television feature. Small businesses try to make use of local news media opportunities because of their limited budgets. Relationships with local media are a huge plus for local companies. The risk is that you have less control over the timing or placement, as well as the message. A news reporter could use the information to write about negative items, for example.

There are clear differences between paid and unpaid communication media channels. Tight control and targeting for paid, against little control over the nature and placement of earned. However to be fully effective paid, earned, and indeed owned media must converge and be integrated as far as is possible into international market communications to optimize the companies global presence.

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