Earned Media, Shared Media, and Owned Media: What’s the Difference?

earned shared owned media

In public relations, media refers to any messaging channel or platform the brand might use to connect with customers. Traditionally, there are three types of media: paid, earned and owned. The modern PR landscape has added a fourth: shared. Funneling all PR messaging through one of these four channels is sometimes called the PESO model, for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned. While the ultimate goal – building a positive brand reputation – is the same in all cases, the strategy to leverage each kind of media is distinct.

Owned media is any content or messaging platform the brand owns or exclusively controls. This may include print media, digital platforms, websites or social media pages, as well as all the content on those channels. Other effective forms of owned media could include white papers, presentations, e-Books or other forms of brand-controlled content. Marketing through email, newsletters, or any other direct to consumer or direct-to-list operations also falls under owned media, because the brand controls the content being sent.

Paid media is any way the brand purchases advertising, marketing, or messaging space, whether it’s in print, online, digital or broadcast. This could include anything from PPC advertising, to paid mentions in broadcasts, to print or social media advertising. Paid media might also include sponsored posts in publications or blogs, product placement, and anything else in which the brand compensates the media venue for the exposure.

Earned media is all about getting people talking about the brand. Generally, earned media begins with the PR firm or team having previously established relationships with media personalities or media channels. These relationships give the PR team a direct connection to influencers in the media sphere. Traditionally, earned media is the brand getting mentioned on or in the news, such as a spot on a morning show or a segment on a radio program. In today’s marketplace, that could also mean a similar unpaid promotion on a podcast, blog or website.

Shared media is social media, whether it’s a mention or a recommendation by a social media influencer, a positive product or service review online or a direct interaction with a customer. Because of the dynamics at play, shared media can overlap with owned and earned media.

With owned media, when content created by the brand is shared it becomes outside of the brand’s control. On the other hand, earned media is when messages created by the brand are used or promoted on other sites or platforms. Shared media is a continually growing and shifting PR opportunity.

As more platforms are developed and more people come to depend on social media in their day-to-day lives, the importance of shared media in PR campaigns will only increase.