Paid vs. Earned vs. Owned Media

By: MJ Pedone

Recently, there has been some confusion about the differences between paid vs. owned vs. earned media. In the past, all PR agencies worked toward getting “earned” media meaning having a journalist write an article about you or your company. You earned the article by doing something newsworthy, interesting, unique or even illegal. Whatever it was, a third-party wrote and published a story about you. You didn’t pay for the article to run, nor did you have control over the content, meaning, no edits!

Today, PR agencies might as well be called “media” agencies since they help their clients secure paid, owned and earned media. So in today’s media saturated world, I have listed the differences between paid, earned and owned media in order to clarify the difference.

Paid Media:  

Paid media is advertising. Most paid media comes in the form of an advertisement which appears in print, commercials or a banner ad on a website. As media has evolved, paid media now includes a sponsored blog post or advertorial. Paid media is the easiest to get if you have the budget and is the least credible of all the media. Basically you are telling the world about your business or yourself and the majority of people see it as sales talk and not a credible third-party endorsement of your business. With that said, if done right and with a significant budget, a paid media strategy can net extraordinary results just like Pepsi, NIKE, McDonalds, to name a few.

Earned Media:  

Earned media is the hardest media to get because you can’t buy “earned” media and you must earn it.  Earned media is what keeps PR agencies in business. If you have a product or story to share, you would then pitch that story to reporters, producers, bloggers and other influential third parties to try and get them to write about it. Earned media is the most credible of media because it’s hard to get and is more credible in the eyes of consumers. It will cost you the fee of working with a reputable PR agency, but is a fraction of what you’d spend if you enlisted a paid media strategy instead. 

Owned Media:  

Owned media comes in the channels you own and which you control all the content. Owned media can be in the form of a newsletter, blog post, website and social media pages that you use to communicate with your clients. You own that content! Owned media has components of paid and earned media too. You have to create content that stands out to earn engagement in the form of likes, shares, retweets and email forwards. You often have to pay to advertise on “owned” social media too.

I hope you found this information helpful and that it clears up any confusion about he differences. I think you will certainly see why “earned” media is valued so much and why working with a trustworthy PR agency is essential to earning ongoing, credible media. I personally recommend a diverse approach in order to net the best possible outcome and ROI for your brand.

What type of media are you using? Are the results that you achieved what you were hoping for?

As always, if you like what you read be social and share.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s