The Difference Between Earned, Owned, and Paid Media

Media coverage is valuable to any company, especially a startup looking to build its brand and publicize its products and services. But all media isn’t created equal. In this post, we’ll look at the differences between three major types of media – earned, owned, and paid.


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What is Earned Media?

Earned media is organic media coverage that you achieve by garnering public or industry interest in your products and services. For a handy shorthand, remember: Mentions, Shares, Reposts, Reviews. For example, if you make designer passport covers, you might be contacted by a travel magazine looking to write a short article about your product line. If you’ve created a fitness app or a successful upscale gym franchise, you might be contacted by a health and fitness magazine for a profile piece or review. This kind of coverage is invaluable. You’ll reach an audience that is pre-selected to fit your target demographic, and they’ll see positive attention from a neutral party.

The problem with earned media coverage is that you have no control over its timing, placement, focus, or tone. You can’t make Outdoor magazine review your premium lightweight sleeping bags, or command Martha Stewart to order a six-page photoessay about your organic beeswax candle business. Part of the value of earned coverage is its independent, spontaneous nature.

Click here to read about proven strategies for getting reviews in the service industry.

How Do You Create Earned Media?

If you can’t mandate coverage, how do you persuade these media powerhouses to pay attention? Well, you have a few options.

First, and most basic: make sure that your contact information is prominently displayed on your website, social media pages, and marketing emails. Make sure that your team checks inboxes multiple times per day, and shoot for a response time of twenty-four hours or less. That way, when Martha Stewart does get in touch, you’ll be ready. You’ll also want to make sure that all information on every platform is up to date, so that journalists report accurately when they review your company and products.

Second, prepare a press package so that you can provide standardized materials for journalists. You’ll seem much more professional, and you’ll know that your team is giving the same information to everyone. You can use services like Ereleases and Newswire to ensure that your press releases receive wide media attention, sites like Muck Rack to locate journalists who might be interested in writing about your company, and sites like Mention to track any organic media coverage pertaining to your business.

Third, never underestimate the power of social media. You might not be able to get attention from a celebrity, but you might be able to solicit a review or three from a circle of interested amateurs. Bloggers, for example, are a great source of positive reviews. If they like your product, they’ll rep you to their readers. Their audience might not be large, but it is handpicked to want to buy products and services like yours. Creating a strong social-media presence across platforms allows you to turn customer loyalty into viral advertising.

What Is Owned Media?

Owned Media is in-house media – you control it, and it’s part of your brand. Any original content on your website or social media pages, and any content you create to post elsewhere qualifies as owned media. The more owned media you have, and the more diverse it is, the more opportunities you have to extend yourself into the social sphere. Consider format, too – owned media content includes photos, infographics, and videos.

Click here to read budget-friendly ways to create videos on Instagram.

How Can You Take Advantage of Owned Media?

Simply put, produce it! The key to successful owned media marketing is a steady stream of content on a diverse set of platforms. Companies that successfully deploy owned media make sure to maintain a vibrant presence on blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and a host of other popular sites. This might seem a bit overwhelming, but you don’t have to do it all at once. If you start with a commitment to post weekly on your blog, you’ll have readymade updates for your website and shareable posts for social media accounts. You may also want to look for guest posting opportunities, since this will raise your profile among colleagues and industry thought leaders.

Owned media content doesn’t necessarily have to be produced in-house. If you’re a small startup, it can be difficult to devote several hours per week to publishing and monitoring owned content. However, owned content is easy to outsource. A digital marketing firm can hook you up with professional content writers at low cost, so that you can display polished, professionally-edited, SEO-optimized content. You can also use an app like Hootsuite to help you schedule posts on social media, so that you can reach customers at the best time.

Click here to read our comprehensive tutorial on Facebook Advertising – Part One and Part Two.

What Is Paid Media?

Paid media is basically advertising. That can include conventional advertising, like a full-page ad in a magazine or a sidebar ad on a blog. These days, paid media has become an integrated part of owned and even earned media. Successful companies pay to promote their content by using Google Ads to drive traffic to their sites. Facebook Advertising is seamlessly integrated into Facebook’s popular social media platform.  Paid “influencers” spread the word about a new product or feature – for a fee.

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How Can You Take Advantage of Owned Media? 

Be creative! Especially if you’re on a budget, you’ll benefit from hybrid solutions like social media sharing. Social media sites like Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn all offer integrated advertising options that give you high-impact exposure at a bargain rate. You may also want to look at finding paid media options for promoting cheaper owned media, since this can be much more cost-effective. Think of paid media as a microphone amplifying the voice of your company.

Click here to learn how to make sure that your website is search engine optimized.

As this post has shown, you have a wide array of options for spreading the word about your company. The key is to see all three types of media as cooperating parts of an integrated media strategy. If you consider every alternative, and ensure that your marketing campaigns are open to opportunities in all three media sectors, you’ll be on your way to a highly successful marketing strategy!

Click here to learn how to create an inbound marketing plan that integrates diverse types of media.

Are you interested in learning more about different types of media, and the ways they can fit into a successful marketing plan? We recommend speaking with a digital marketing firm whose team makes it their business to provide every client with a marketing plan optimized for their business needs. Contact Square 1 Group for a consultation today! 

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