The Difference Between Earned Media vs Paid Media

Earned media and paid media are both terms used to describe marketing efforts used to increase name recognition and grow your business. However, the main difference between earned media vs. paid media is the way these techniques go about achieving this goal.

What Is Earned Media?

Earned media is, in essence, free advertising. You don’t pay to advertise your product or service, rather, you “earn” the ability to communicate information about your business for free. Examples of earned media include press coverage your company receives, reviews by customers, non-sponsored social media posts, blog posts on your website, and word-of-mouth referrals.

What Is Paid Media?

The big difference between earned media vs paid media is that with paid media, a company pays for these marketing opportunities. This is what most people see as traditional advertising. Sponsored social media posts and advertisements on the TV, newspaper, radio, and billboards are all examples of paid media.

If It’s Free– Shouldn’t You Always Choose Earned Media vs. Paid Media?

If you think your company should exclusively use earned media because it’s free, think again. It’s important to keep in mind that there is no such thing as a free lunch. Without a good pitch and solid prior experience with your company, people aren’t going to want to talk about your company for free. Earned media takes a lot of leg work, which in turn, generally costs money. So while the “advertisement” itself is free, the behind the scenes work to secure that placement is not.

What Costs Are Associated With Earned Media?

The cost of earned media is best measured by time and effort. For example, it takes time and effort to build up a business that clients write reviews for. Likewise, time and effort is required to establish connections for word-of-mouth results. You must also invest time and focus efforts to garner a strong social media presence. Additionally, it requires time and effort to brainstorm and plan events that the press views worthy of covering.

How Should My Company Balance Using Earned Media vs Paid Media?

Your marketing efforts should appear less as a earned media vs paid media model and rather, function more as a homogenous paid media and earned media model. Both earned media and paid media play an important role in marketing. However, the best way to balance earned media and paid media efforts are dependent on your unique business. No two companies are going to have the exact same path to marketing success.

It’s worth working with a professional strategic communications consulting firm to try a variety of different campaigns to see what works best for your individual needs. Within a few months, you’ll start to get an idea of which strategies provide your business with the best ROI. From there, you and your strategic communications specialist can work together to continue tweaking your marketing strategies until you achieve the results you’re after.

For more information on earned media vs paid media reach out to 406 Strategic Communications for a free 30 minute consultation. During your consultation, we will answer any questions you may have and work with you to create a successful marketing campaign for your business. You can schedule your free consultation here.