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Your Guide to Earned, Owned and Paid Media

By Mikayla Schneider
Awesome Intern

During my four months as a public relations intern here at Colorado Springs advertising agency Blakely + Company, I have come to realize just how much verbiage is in the public relations/marketing industry. While I may be somewhat new to working in this field, I have had the pleasure of spending four years in college writing flashcards and memorizing the vocabulary that might, or might not, come up. (At least the degree will look nice hanging on my wall … although it’s sure to be the most expensive “art” I will ever own!)

It turns out all those hours put into studying has paid off, and I can (for the most part) keep up with the fast-paced jargon being thrown around the office. The concept of earned, owned, and paid media may not be the hot topic of every conversation here, but having a fundamental knowledge of what they are and how they work together can deeply benefit anyone who wants a better understanding of working with the media.

Today we’ll define earned, owned and paid media, and why each type is valuable.

Earned Media: Brand endorsement developed by a third party. Publicity that has been earned from backlinks, word of mouth, blogs, online reviews, press, and other reputable sites.

Earned media is a form of brand awareness created by people who aren’t paid by the brand. For instance, a positive Tweet about a brand’s new product. It is the conversation people are having, but it is usually the result of something that the brand has done. This can take the form of the experience people have with your product, and their reaction, or it could also be interacting with your content. This type of media can be thought of as an amplification of your content or other marketing efforts. Without that overall awareness, you can lose out on a lot of other essential media opportunities. It also tends to be more credible and trusted by audiences, which adds great value. Combining earned media with the content put out by the brand (a type of media we will talk about next) can be highly effective. Additionally, gaining earned media gives a company or non-profit the potential for an increase in organic reach on other platforms. (Organic reach refers to the number of people viewing your unpaid/earned content, versus those viewing your ads or something you paid to have posted.)

Negative media can also be a possibility, and can be hard to control or measure. The impact that earned media can have on a company is promising, but in some ways, a challenge. The possibility for it to be either extremely advantageous or damaging proves why the press and PR department are extremely important. (Which is job security for me!)

Owned Media:All the content that you create. A website, blog, social media accounts, or channels that you are in control of fall under this category.

Here is your opportunity to soar. You have complete control of the content that is being published, which can be exciting and terrifying at the same time. Talk about pressure! Rest assured, it can be as simple as posting relevant content on social media, or making sure the website is up to date. Although with owned media there are no guarantees and this can take time to scale, it is meant to last and generally costs very little in hard costs. You can use it to establish and maintain a long-term relationship with existing and potential audiences. Owned media is also a great way to receive earned media by creating interesting and useful content your audience wants to see. When a brand puts out their own media (owned) and it naturally gains traction and people start talking about it (earned), then that is when it can be most effective.

Paid Media: Media that you have paid for. Media that is being brought in from sources such as Google Adwords, social media promotions, sponsorships, display ads, etc.

In today’s economy, most people look for ways to avoid spending money as much as possible. And with other free PR methods available, paying for eyeballs can be a hard pill to swallow. However, paid media can be extremely effective, and should not be ignored. This type of coverage is great for finding new customers and audiences who have never heard of your brand.

You can also gear paid media toward those interested in your industry. For example, Facebook allows you to pay for advertisements directed at people with certain interests. Conversely, being a sponsor for an event that covers your industry allows your brand to be exposed to participants who have gathered there for specific reasons. Using paid media can have great effects, by not only expanding your audience but by also allowing you to gear your message toward the customers you are interested in gaining. So there you have it! A basic overview of each type of media and how they work. Each type plays an important role, so it is up to you to leverage it to your advantage. Now you can take this newfound knowledge and apply it in your marketing and PR campaigns.