Need to Know: 3 Media Categories to Best Grow Visibility
for Your Company


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Business 101: To run a successful business your customers and prospective customers need to see and know your brand. In today’s market that sometimes feels easier said than done. With algorithms pushing messages up and media focusing on buzzword news stories, it can feel almost impossible to get a foothold in the market. One way you can maximize views for your brand that drive traffic to what matters most is mastering the three media categories: paid media, owned media and earned media. Any successful marketing strategy integrates the three to work synergistically and grow visibility for your brand image by connecting to your target audience on three different levels.

What is the Difference Between Earned Media, Owned Media & Paid Media in Marketing?

Let’s start at the beginning: What do earned, owned and paid media even mean? Each focuses on a different element of a communications strategy and typically work independently of each other. However, when combined they can project a message or brand in full force as seen below.

When content strategy includes earned, owned and paid media, you can grow visibility significantly to your brand.

Breakdown Number 1: Earned Media

Earned media is defined as media coverage that an entity secures without having to pay for placement. Think of a press release that was sent announcing the launch of a new product and the local news station picks it up and brings a spokesperson on the morning show to talk about it. That’s earned media.

Example of earned media: a press release that leads to a media appearance

It is a mutually beneficial way of delivering content to media platforms that serves both groups’ target audiences. Generally speaking, earned media is widely trusted as it is direct information from a company to the general public. J.O. has launched many publicity initiatives for clients, including the Spirit of the Vault Warehouse Sale for renowned interior designer Jan Barboglio. Learn more about how we executed the campaign here!

Breakdown Number 2: Owned Media

Owned media is described as any platform a company has under its complete control to disseminate information. This could be a website, social media platforms, email marketing, blogs or text messaging platforms.

So those social media posts you’ve been reading on Instagram and Facebook? Earned media.

Or that blog post you read or the video content you watched? Earned media.

The direct sources that you’ve sought out fall into this category too.

Examples of owned media include your website. J.O. recently worked with KWC Performing Arts to reimagine their website.

Owned media is very reliant on social media algorithms to reach its targeted audience organically. A talented communication team can guide owned media properties to ensure an entity stays on trend or is ahead of the news curve. With owned media, entities get a full picture of the analytics, giving them immediate results on what was viewed and in some cases a picture of the demographic that viewed the information or visited their websites.

Breakdown Number 3: Paid Media

Paid media is pretty straightforward in that it is any communications effort that is backed by some level of funding. What makes paid media interesting is that it can be coupled with owned media properties. Any social media marketing strategies like influencer marketing, boosted content marketing or social media ads all combine the two media categories. Traditional advertising that falls into the paid media category includes print ads, commercials and digital marketing — ultimately, any method that drives traffic to engage with a specific audience.

When it comes to earned media, partnering with influencers (like Elyse Myers pictured above) can be powerful tool.

The great thing about paid media is that you can track results and customer journeys more easily. There are so many powerful tools out there that assist businesses in digital marketing and provide a wealth of analytic information. The J.O. Agency has launched several successful paid media campaigns for our clients. Check out what we did for Graham Hart Home Builder here.

How do you incorporate the three media categories to grow visibility?

Now that you are up to speed on the earned, owned and paid media game, you can start finding ways to plug them in mindfully to your communications and marketing strategy.

Let’s look at a real-world example: American Airlines, a global airline, announced in August 2023 the addition of new destinations and routes in time for travelers to start planning their 2024 summers. They built up anticipation through their owned media properties like Instagram and Facebook. Their communications team boosted these specific posts to hit the feeds of their target audiences as their paid media opportunity. Then, American launched a press release on their owned website that was then picked up by various media platforms as their earned media. In that press release, they linked back to their website driving organic traffic back to their site.

Do you see what American Airlines did there? They created a wave of information and content for this announcement, not in silos but as a joint, full power effort.

American Airlines' August route launch is a great example of how you create a strategy with all media types incorporated successfully.

A multi-faceted strategy amplifies the impact of any communications strategy. When you are working on plans for your business, be sure to take a 360-view of what is needed and develop a plan that incorporates all levels of the three media categories necessary. Foundationally, you want to identify your goal. Do you want to direct traffic to your website of social media channels? Do you want to increase your entity’s rankings in the search engines or have your blog content pop up in search results? Once you identify your goal, you can start adding your media building blocks together to create content for your layered strategy.

A layered strategy will always create more success in a timely manner.

Building out your strategy depends on the target audience or potential customers you are hoping to reach. If it is a new audience, you may want to have a heavier focus on paid and earned media with supplementary owned media. That could be a complete digital marketing strategy and media push. If you want to speak to your loyal customer base, maybe you lean more toward owned and paid media. That could look like a blog and social content or email marketing strategy coupled with sponsored content or the use of influencers. Ultimately, your plan should include paid owned and earned media in some shape or form that works uniquely for you.

You’ve learned about the three media categories, now what?

J.O. offers services that span the communications field.

Knowing what you need to help boost your brand’s visibility is the first step. Now you need a plan and the content to go with it. That’s where J.O. steps in. Our experienced team of communications, marketing, and design professionals are here to bring your brand to the forefront and help you connect with the customers you are seeking. See examples of our work and services, and then drop us a line at 817-335-0100 or Let’s work together to launch your marketing efforts today!

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