By Lisa Hester, Senior Account Manager

As a public relations and communications agency, one of our roles is to gain visibility for our clients through a variety of avenues. Among the many options we consider are three distinct types of media – owned media, paid media and earned media.

For some people, the distinctions between owned media, paid media and earned media are elementary. The three are very different and have very distinguishable meanings. But I still find in discussions either the lack of awareness that these three forms exist or some confusion about one or more of these terms. Thus, a quick explanation…

* Owned media – Owned media is any communication vehicle that a company has direct control over. The company can freely populate sites, for example, with their ideas and messages without the need to seek approval or pay for the placement. These include, for example, a company’s website, Facebook page, Twitter handle, Instagram account, blog, LinkedIn page, newslPaid, Owned, Earned Media_ How Much Do You Know_etters and emails.

Owned media helps draw attention to a company and enhances paid and earned opportunities. And the cost is virtually free for information that will be easily accessible forever. And it’s effective in and of itself. According to an Invesp study, 78 percent of people said companies’ posts on social media alone impacted their buying decisions.

* Paid media – Paid media is just that. It is the use of any vehicle by which you can share information, but that involves a cost, or payment, to access. Some examples include paid advertisements, paid editorial content such as infomercials and advertorials, sponsored content and promoted tweets.

Paid media can be strategically timed, specific audiences can be targeted and results can be very measurable. Interesting fact: When it comes to paid social media ads, Facebook dominates the market worldwide by accounting for more than 65 percent of the total ad spend.

* Earned media – This is free publicity for the company. Articles that are written completely without bias by a (print or online) publication’s staff, for example. The most widely recognized forms of earned media are articles in publications, TV interviews and unpaid reviews. It is visibility for a company that comes without the company’s control of content or timing. And no money is given in exchange for the coverage. It’s also thought of as exposure as a result of the all-powerful word of mouth.

Earned media is oftentimes described as the most trusted form of content for a brand. Statistics show that 25-40 percent of all consumer traffic and lead generation comes from earned media.

If you are still unclear about the differences in these three types of media or, more importantly, are not sure which of these are best for your company’s overall strategies (hint: a healthy combination is nearly always best), let Rountree Group lend a hand. Give us a call at 770-645-4545 or email