Earned, Paid or Owned Media: Which Strategy is Best for Your Client?

By Amanda Ensinger
October 16, 2019

When creating a comprehensive media strategy there are many factors to consider, including what type of media you want to secure for your client. Do you want to earn the coverage, do you want to pay for the press coverage, or do you want to create the content yourself?

Depending on the type of client, their objectives and other tactics you are implementing, paid, earned or owned media may be beneficial to your media strategy. So, what do each of these mean and how do you decide which tactic makes the most sense for your client’s goals? We’ve got you covered with everything you need to know about each tactic.

Earned Media

Earned media is one of the most powerful tools in a comprehensive media strategy because a third party is validating your client. From news and magazine articles to online stories and TV segments, earned media is a great way to build buzz.

To secure these placements, it’s best to be proactive in your engagement with the media. Ongoing pitching is a great way to keep your client at the top of their minds as they work on stories week to week. Creating a comprehensive editorial calendar with pitch ideas for the year, reviewing key outlets’ editorial calendars to see what stories they are covering each month and having meetings with reporters to see what they are currently working on are easy ways to secure earned editorial coverage.

After securing earned coverage, promote it on social media, share it on your client’s newsroom and promote it via email campaigns. It is always important to share earned media coverage you are mentioned in to show the outlet you are thankful for the coverage and to promote your client.

Paid Media

From paying for an advertisement in a newspaper or magazines to paying influencers to promote your product to buying TV spots or space in a newspaper to run your article, paid media is an easy way to gain exposure.

Paying for media will allow you to control the story and ensure key messaging will be communicated to your targeted audience. It also ensures all the information is correct and it eliminates the chance of any controversy in your story.

However, paid media can also be a slippery slope. All paid content needs to clearly state that it is paid or sponsored content, so the audience knows you are purchasing this content to promote your client. This means this coverage will not always have as much power as earned media. The reason for this is because a third party is not validating your client, instead you are validating your client, which doesn’t hold as much weight with key audiences.

The best way to utilize paid media is in conjunction with an earned media campaign so you can control some of the media coming out, but also get further validation by third parties that don’t benefit from reporting on your client.

Owned Media

Creating content yourself is another way to ensure your message gets clearly communicated to your key audiences. Owned media includes any content you create yourself and then have published in the media. This can include contributed articles, op-ed articles, thought leadership articles and blog content.

Owned media is a great way to drive traffic to your client’s website, raise awareness about your client and ensure your message is clearly communicated. While owned media should not be the only strategy in your media relations plan, it is a strong tactic that should be considered in any strategy.

Key Takeaways

  • Earned media is a power tool that offers third party validation for your client and is free. It also drives traffic, engagement and sentiment about your brand.
  • Paid media is purchased media that allows you to have complete control over the story. However, it doesn’t hold as much weight with audiences as an earned editorial piece because audiences know you are paying for the coverage.
  • Owned media is content you create yourself and place in publications. This content can include contributed articles, op-ed articles, thought leadership articles and blog content.

Remember, when considering which tactics to take in your comprehensive media strategy, think about your client and their objectives. Sometimes one tactic may make sense over another or all three may work together to achieve your ultimate goal.