Determining the ideal mix for your brand is an art, not a science.

Paid, earned, and owned media are all necessary parts of the content equation. Establishing a balance between the three, however, remains tricky for many brands. The most effective content marketing strategies are dynamic and receptive to change — think of a paid/earned/owned pie chart with flexible slice sizes.

Finding the best balance for your brand begins with identifying the content your audience naturally responds to and the channels that host a majority of your consumers’ brand interactions. Then, pinpoint the untapped groups you’d most like to reach — and get to work.

Earned Media

When leveraged effectively, earned media increases your brand’s authority and exposure. Earned media includes press coverage (product reviews, executive interviews, and media mentions), word-of-mouth recommendations, and social media buzz. Strategic earned media hits — typically garnered through proactive publicity outreach — can draw attention and traffic to owned media channels through both content distribution (links or videos embedded in media coverage) and social chatter (shared links and content discussion).

Earned media hits help to broaden the top of the purchase funnel. Audience interest might be piqued due to a brand mention on social media or write-up in their preferred news outlet, motivating customers to research your brand — or at the very least, instilling a sense of familiarity the next time they encounter your brand’s name.

For better or for worse, earned media gets your brand name on new consumers’ radars. Consider strategically increasing your positive earned media hits by strengthening relationships with social media influencers and proactively conducting PR outreach.

Owned Media

Owned media consists of the content channels that your brand has full control over: your website, blog, video channels, apps, marketing emails, brand social handles, etc. These platforms give marketers a chance to tell their brand stories the way they want to tell them, and to connect with users on a personal, unintrusive, and conversational level.

These are the channels that build lasting relationships and foster brand loyalty, converting consumers not only into repeat customers, but brand ambassadors. As puts it, marketers should use owned channels to “create content that nurtures users through the sales cycle and encourages engagement with strong calls to action and clear benefits.”

Are you looking to win the loyalty of one-time consumers? Would your product or service benefit from the cultivation of a brand community where core customers can exchange ideas? Owned channels create a unique opportunity for consumers to relate to a brand, identify other, like-minded consumers, and interact with personalized, service-oriented content.

Paid Media

Paid media is perhaps the easiest of the channels to understand: it consists of any marketing or advertising that your company pays for. That includes broadcast spots, print advertising, search engine advertising, digital pay per click ads, native campaigns, sponsored social media posts, and more.

The purpose of paid media is fundamentally different from those of earned and owned media. Not only can it amplify your existing channels (think paid Tweets, promoted Facebook posts, etc.), but paid media strategists can actively seek untapped audiences and demand their attention.

“Right now ‘PEO’ is more like uppercase ‘P,’ lowercase ‘e,’ and lowercase ‘o,” says David Berkowitz for “[PEO is] increasingly driven by the media model, whereas when PEO started it was driven by the creative. Earned and owned media are still important, but right now paid is in the driver’s seat.” In an increasingly pay-for-play social media landscape, effective paid media placements successfully position your brand and its content above the general racket of the internet.

Your brand’s paid, earned and owned channels wield varying influence at each stage of the consumer funnel, and generating content that’s valuable at every stage of this process can broaden your audience and increase sales. To make the most your content marketing efforts, your team needs to understand how and where your audience consumes these three types of content — then look critically at where your brand can stand to dedicate more resources.

By addressing user expectations on each channel, marketers can improve their online credibility, engage in meaningful dialogue with consumers, and produce consistent, cross-platform results.

Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.

Author Adela Fine

After graduating from Wesleyan University with a BA in psychology, Adela ​joins L&T​ as the newest member of our​ social team. She has previously ​worked at startups in San Francisco and New York Cit​y, specializing​ in social media management and content generation. In her free time​,​ she enjoys exploring New York and is currently on a quest to find the best donut in all five boroughs.

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