Earned Media vs. Paid Media, 3 Things You Need to Know

Like there are different media channels, there are different types of media. An example of a media channel is Facebook versus your weekly email newsletter. You publish different types of content on each channel, and each channel has a different focus. The same is true for different types of media.


When it comes to content marketing, there are essentially three distinct types of media:
  • Owned Media
  • Earned Media
  • Paid Media

Owned Media Is Your Content

Owned media is fairly easy to understand. If you publish it on your blog or social media, it’s owned media. It is owned by you. You blog posts, email messages, articles, white papers, case studies etc.… those are all owned media.

Earned or Paid? What’s the Difference?

Earned Media is media that is shared by a third party.

When you publish a tweet online and it’s shared by five industry influencers, that’s earned media. It is when your content is shared by others. It’s also when someone talks about you online. So, let’s say that your happy customer posts a review online. That’s earned media. When an unhappy customer tweets about your business, that’s earned media too. The “third party” component is what makes it earned media.

Paid Media is coverage that you’ve paid for. It’s the ad space you purchased on a website or the sponsored post on Facebook. That’s paid media. It’s advertising.

What You Need to Know to Leverage Earned and Paid

With Paid Media you have all the control.

You are paying for the placement, you’ve created the content and message, and you can stop or start the ability to see or experience the message. With earned media, you have very little control. A third party is talking about you online. It can be positive,negative, or take on a life of its own. How you respond to earned media matters. Create a response plan to deal with earned media, positive and negative. And implement systems to track earned media so you’re notified the moment someone begins talking about you online.

When you have paid media, you create a linear path to your company.

They read the ad, they click the link, they visit a page you created specifically for them and they take action, or they don’t. With earned media, the path isn’t linear. Earned media requires an increased level of communication with your consumers on their preferred social channels. It means understanding your message and being ready, willing, and able to talk to your consumers when they reach out to you.


Generally speaking, earned media is free media. Therefore, you can’t say that for paid media. That being said, earned media does require systems and staff to manage communications and responses. It also requires a solid branding and content marketing strategy.

All three types of media play an important role in the marketing of your business. Keep in mind the main differences and what’s required for each type. A stronger focus on earned media can be what it takes to get your business to the next level.

Call us today to speak to one of our PR specialists: 1-800-713-7278

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

Catch up on the rest of your content marketing news and strategy