Ramping Up Communications: Paid, Earned, and Owned Roles

As an agency known for, among other things, B2B technology, we’re often approached by startups and companies needing nearly-instant results. One of the most important things to understand about the suite of media tools and channels is that they have differing costs and impacts over time:


In the beginning of a campaign to drive attention and awareness (typical of company or product launches), paid media delivers the most impactful results the fastest. You swipe the credit card, load up the ads, and hit the audience as hard as possible. With enough budget and talent, you can create massive awareness and attention, though not necessarily credibility or trust. Over time, your brand matures and some ad dollars can better be used elsewhere to help grow earned and owned media, but paid media is an important part of the media mix.

Earned media takes more time to ramp up, as a PR team goes out with your products or services and finds appropriate media placements, from influential bloggers and social media personalities to mainstream and niche journalists. However, the cadence of hit after hit, of story after story about you creates attention and most important, trust. Over time, earned media can greatly help power your owned media by developing credible citations that power search results. Your earned media results are often a leading indicator for how well your owned media will do.

Owned media takes an incredible amount of work to get right, to create a massive reserve of content, but once you’re an authority in your space, audiences flock to you via search and other inquiry-based channels like your owned social media properties. Once you’ve gained attention, awareness, trust, and authority, owned media becomes the powerhouse where you cement the relationships you’ve created and even become a publisher in your own right.

To maximize your audience generation results, you need all three channels working for you. Expect different results from each channel at different periods of time and know which channel you should invest in most heavily based on where you are in your media lifecycle.

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