“Media” is an umbrella term covering any number of mass communication channels and is generally categorized as “traditional media” and “new media”. Traditional media includes television, radio and print publications while new media includes social media, digital media and other forms of on-demand content.
In marketing, media can be separated into three buckets: earned media, owned media and paid media. These three categories can appear in both traditional media and new media. For your brand to stand out in the eyes of the consumer, you should aim for a mix of all three. Here’s a breakdown of each.
Paid media is most often referred to as advertising. Paying for the creation of advertisements and their placement can essentially guarantee visibility in selected outlets and platforms, but it often comes with a hefty price tag and fails to produce the third-party credibility you get with earned media.
Paid media can take many different forms. Broadcast commercials and print advertisements have been the most prolific forms of advertising over the past many decades, but new technology and digital media platforms have created countless other forms of paid media. Advertorials and native advertising are popular types of paid media that mimic earned media. And search engine marketing, paid social media marketing and other forms of online advertising continue to grow in popularity year over year.
As with other marketing strategies, paid media typically requires a long-term commitment (and budget) in order to produce worthwhile results. Professional services firms that arbitrarily spend on advertising without clear goals or a documented strategy are often disappointed with the results. So, it’s always important to have specific goals in mind when implementing a paid media strategy.
Owned media is any media that your firm creates, owns and distributes through channels such as your website, blog, newsletter and social media accounts. With owned media, you are in full control of the content, but that also means you will not enjoy the added value of third-party credibility.
Technology, and the rise of social media in the business community, has proliferated owned media’s importance and effectiveness while simultaneously reducing its cost. Brands are now publishing whitepapers on their websites, writing about current events on their blogs, hosting their own podcasts and even streaming live video to their social media followers.
Owned media is most effective when it resembles unbiased information rather than marketing materials pushing products and services. It’s also important that the content is consistent in style and frequency. Regularly distributed content is what allows firms to build regular audiences and fans.
Public relations efforts are traditionally geared towards earned media, which is a mention, feature or other acknowledgment in a news outlet or other third-party medium. Unlike paid advertising, earned media is often merit-based and therefore often carries more credibility than the other two media types.
Think of it this way; advertising is the static wedged in-between the content viewers seek, while earned media puts you right inside the content. The fact is, apart from the Super Bowl, viewers typically don’t watch TV for the commercials – they watch for the primary programming.
Earned media can be the most difficult to obtain, which is why most companies with strong earned media campaigns often have in-house PR specialists or hire an agency to drive their campaigns.
If you want to start leveraging the press and gaining attention for your firm, it’s important to understand the different types of media. Knowing the key differences will help you choose the best path forward, and create a PR plan that will help your business be the most successful.
Want to learn more? Download Turning Press Into Profits: A PR Guide For Professional Services Firms today!