Paid, Owned, Earned Media


A story on and in the Vancouver Sun about a bear breaking into a car to steal Great Bear Patties is an excellent example of earned media.  What a terrific story to bring your product in front of thousands of viewers.  Tracy Lydiatt of Great Bear Enterprises Ltd was the fortunate recipient of this free press.

Earned media is one of three main marketing silos commonly used. The other two being Paid and Owned media.  Traditionally paid media has received the lion's share of the budget but with the rise of online and in particular, social media, this distribution has shifted.

To recap the difference between them:


Paid Media – Just what it says it is. Paid.  The publicity that is received as a result of paid Ads.  The message only goes one direction, from you to your audience.  Classic interruption marketing.

Owned Media – This is your collateral.  Your website, your blog content, your social media profiles, it is material you have created and own.  With blog comments etc you can have a two-way conversation with your customers.

Earned Media – Social media engagement, comments, retweets, shares, news stories, media relations.  This is other people talking about you, not necessarily to you.  They are your advocates and often your best marketing tool.

What is the right media mix for your small business?

When it comes to deciding where to spend your time and marketing dollars, it pays to know your audience.   This is crucial to your brand promise.  Spend a bit of time creating your ideal customer. Write out a description of the persona.

A very simple example might be:

A: 25-45 yr old female, health-conscious with regards to feeding her family, active outdoors, always up for an adventure, needs healthy snacks for school, hiking, camping.  She has a very busy life and needs solution based foods that make her day to day lifestyle simpler without sacrificing taste and health.  Product price is somewhat important.  New product information is often discovered through conversations with her friends at soccer games or in magazines at the dentist office.

or it could be

B: 20-30 yr old proactive new mom who places the health of new family as a high priority.  This mom reads voraciously and learns as much as she can about a product before feeding it to her family.  A Strong supporter of the local food movement she spends weekends at Farmer’s Markets and engaging with her friends on social media.  She is very tech savvy and is never without her smartphone to look things up at a moment’s notice.  Price is negotiable if the product is seen to be worth it.

Once you have identified your target audience, you will have an idea of where they hang out and where they get their information from.  Most everyone will eventually look you up online and read about your product, company morals, community associations etc.  Therefore at a minimum, you should invest in your ‘owned’ media.  This is one aspect of your reputation that you control so spend a bit of time every day making it better.  Visual marketing is a powerful trend so it may pay to be part of the more visual mediums of Instagram and/or Pinterest.

Positive Earned Media is a Gift – Track Your Brand

When your organization is the recipient of the free press, take advantage of it.  Tweet it, Share it, Copy it, Blog about it, and archive it.  If you aren’t tracking your brand, visit Google Alerts and start watching what people are saying about you and any other area of interest you might have.  This will allow you to respond in a timely fashion to mentions about you as well as stay on top of current trends.

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