Earned vs. Paid Media: What’s the Difference and When Should you Use Them?

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Persuading customers to support your brand can take a lot of time, energy, and resources. When it comes to promoting your brand, there are many tactics to use to get the coverage you need. Through marketing, public relations, or a combination of the two, you can build a buzz about your brand that will drive awareness and sales. When it comes to media coverage, there are two main avenues: earned and paid. However, it is not just about getting the word out, but it is also about keeping people engaged. Audience engagement and retention can be especially tricky, so that is where a public relations firm usually steps in. Both earned and paid media are great tools in the public relations toolbox. However, understanding when and how to use each tactic is the first step to a successful campaign. Here, we break it down.

Earned Media

Otherwise known as ‘organic press,’ earned media is any content that is written and published by the media with no payment or sponsorship involved. This tactic is generally regarded as the bulk of public relations work. While certainly the most challenging to secure, earned media is arguably the most important. This type of content establishes credibility and trust for your brand. By forming a strong, authentic external presence through stories, reviews, and other articles, customers will see that your products are worth buying and will want to stick around. In this way, the media acts as a spokesperson for your brand. 

Many business owners may think that earned articles are easy to get. However, this is usually not the case. Journalists and bloggers have thousands of brands and products to choose to write about. To secure this kind of press, it is best to have a public relations firm or team behind you who have relationships with the media already, and are well-versed in storytelling. A good public relations firm can help you find newsworthy angles and fit your brand into the news cycle that already exists.

Paid Media

This tactic involves paying for sponsorships and promotions to expand outreach. Paid media typically comes in the form of sponsored articles. The idea here is to have guaranteed coverage that looks organic, but you have the control. You and your PR firm get to decide the angle, messaging, and content of the piece.

Since this is the more costly option, it is important to plan out the exact messaging of the article. You want your article to have a purpose, and have its content support that purpose. Think about what you are trying to accomplish. Are you driving traffic to your website? Are you promoting your story? Did you launch a new product? Whatever the objective, a public relations firm can help create the content that will ultimately be published, using their expertise in SEO, branding, and communications to tell the story and reach your goals. 


If your company is looking for a public relations firm to further your company’s earned media and paid advertising, BLND PR is definitely the right choice! To read more about BLND’s services offered, click here.