Paid, Earned, and Owned Media: Three Paths Toward One Goal?



May 2013

Although paid, earned, and owned media are widely perceived to be separate entities by public relations practitioners and marketers, the distinctions among the media forms aren’t readily evident to the audiences being targeted.

“It is always important to keep in mind that consumers don’t draw the lines between different types of media. It is the business who draws the line,” asserts in this recent article.

To help understand the roles played by paid, earned, and owned media, this edition of the BurrellesLuce newsletter:

  • Compares the three media categories.
  • Notes the benefits and challenges associated with their integrated use.
  • Suggests ways to effectively leverage each category.

Defining the Terms

A study that Forrester Research published on the topic includes the following chart, which summarizes the study’s key findings and offers advice on how to apply each media type.









Although the chart above was developed four years ago, it remains relevant to today’s media mix and represents a model framework for characterizing paid, earned, and owned media. In this blog post Forrester’s Sean Corcoran goes a step further by stating that all three types of media work best when they work together.

Recognizing the Potential, Overcoming the Challenges

Paid, earned, and owned media represent a form of what the Altimeter Group, in a 2012 study, calls converged media. To fully realize the convergence potential, however, the study states that marketers must overcome some formidable challenges. The three main impediments identified in the study are cited by Jesse Noyes of Eloqua.

Tips for Leveraging Each Type of Media

  1. Integrate paid and earned media efforts. A study performed by WPP Group’s Kantar Video and Synaptic Digital concluded, among other things, that “the combination of brand, earned and paid media lead to 61 percent greater brand awareness” compared with using just one media type.
  2. Be transparent about paid-media placements. Otherwise, your efforts may come across not only as too self-serving but may carry disproportionate costs compared with earned media. This cautionary counsel extends to any piece authored by a blogger who has received gifts or compensation for writing about your company. In a survey involving more than 500 digital media professionals, three quarters of the respondents said they were spending more for social media content, “which could include paying bloggers to write posts about a product or using third-party technology to push videos onto the Web in hope that they become viral,” according to the survey’s creators, Nielsen and Vizu (a research company owned by Nielsen).
  3. Maximize your return on earned media by building trust through the fostering of community. “Creating earned media is an investment. It’s organic, it’s long term, and it is sustainable,” explains Graham Brown of mobileYouth in this video. Earned-media efforts are most successful when they focus on issues that engage constituents, drive awareness, and create movements.
  4. Measure your efforts. Always be mindful of how your investments in each of the media areas (paid, earned, and owned) translate back to the key performance indicators (KPIs) identified for your business or client. MediaBistro’s All Twitter offers an infographic from ilab.canada for planning a social strategy using paid, owned, and earned media, and the questions to consider when establishing objectives for [H2] defining metrics and measuring the value of your efforts.

The Bottom Line

In today’s rapidly shifting media landscape, the boundaries separating paid, owned, and earned media are getting more and increasingly blurred. This situation requires PR and marketing professionals to adopt a collaborative, 360-degree approach to their media planning, monitoring, and reporting endeavors. BurrellesLuce can help practitioners optimize results from all media activities, and from all media types that are relevant to stakeholders. Learn more about the advantages of using BurrellesLuce’s services.

About BurrellesLuce

BurrellesLuce is the U.S. leader in media monitoring. Professionals in a wide range of industries rely on our comprehensive curated content from local and national print, online, broadcast, and social media sources. BurrellesLuce has a turnkey copyright compliance program that allows us to provide copyright-compliant, behind-the-paywall content not available to other services. BurrellesLuce combines grade-A content with easy-to-use software, allowing users to evaluate and analyze their media coverage and PR efforts. It's all integrated into our user-friendly interface, BurrellesLuce WorkFlow™.

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