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Practice Management > Marketing and Communications > Social Media

Paid, owned and earned media: Why you need all 3

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Marketing in this day and age includes three types of media marketing: paid, owned and earned media. Here’s what “media marketing” means today and why you need all three types in your smart marketing strategy:

Paid media. This type is just as it sounds: You’re paying for access to an audience via a channel that charges you a fee to present your messages. Examples of paid media are television and radio time; print, outdoor, and web advertising; Google AdWords; commercial direct mail lists; and trade show exhibit space.

Why you need it: Paid media gives you the ability to target those who will see your ads and to determine when and how often your messages will be delivered. Paid media is the foundation of most media plans.

Owned media. This encompasses the channels you control: Your website, blog, newsletters, email lists, customer lists, social-media accounts, vehicles, buildings, packaging, product inserts—any channel belonging to you that provides an opportunity for delivering a promotional message.

Why you need it: Owned media offers you the most control over the length, format, content, frequency and delivery of your messages. The cost is usually very low or nothing at all.  Owned media also reaches some very important audiences: Your customers, fans and followers.

Earned media. This type of media includes being mentioned in the media by others, often as a result of something you’ve done to warrant the attention. Public relations campaigns, publicity and event marketing and guerrilla-marketing campaigns are among the tactics marketers use to earn media mentions in the form of news coverage, word-of-mouth references and social-media commentary.

Why you need it: Earned media can be extremely powerful, especially if social media accelerates the conversation and your messages go viral. The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a prime example. Earned media can be very low cost (or even free). Being mentioned in a positive way in the press also can give your company a credibility and visibility boost.

Today’s marketing options are many and varied, and your message can be disseminated far and wide. Take advantage of these three types of media to get your message out.

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Jean M. Gianfagna is a marketing strategy expert and the founder and president of Gianfagna Strategic Marketing which provides marketing strategy and creative services to leading business-to-business and consumer marketers. Read her blog for more marketing tips at


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