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What’s the difference between earned media, shared media, and owned media?

By Axia Public Relations

ESO_Website_v01When it comes to public relations, the term media relates to different channels a brand might use to attract new customers.

There are four types of media:

  • Paid (advertising)
  • Earned (news coverage)
  • Shared (social media)
  • Owned (web content)

These different types of media make up what many know as the PESO model. At Axia Public Relations, we’re PR experts – PR is what we do. We aren’t trying to pose as an advertising agency or be all things to all people. We believe that in PR, paid media more appropriately falls under the category of shared media for sponsorships and sponsored content. In our opinion, paid media isn’t part of a PR firm’s service, and, therefore, paid media shouldn’t be part of the PESO model.


 Our sole focus is on what we call the ESO model.

  • Earned
    Earned media is when you’ve earned the opportunity, often through media relations, to appear in a news story.

  • Shared
    Shared media is user-generated content and social media.

  • Owned
    Owned media is content you’ve created and have full control over (e.g., your website and blog).

Let’s look at each type of media more in-depth.

Axia ESO

 What is earned media?

The term earned media describes content that someone else creates relating to your brand, products, and service – it's the coverage you receive on sites other than your own.


Earned media (or earned media coverage) comes from media relations. It’s getting your company, product, service, expert, opinion, and ideas included in a news story – online, in print, and on the radio, TV, podcasts, etc. It’s when a newspaper or industry trade publication (blog, magazine, website) features and quotes your brand. It’s appearing on local and national TV morning shows or the evening news. It’s what most people think of when they think of PR. Some might call this “publicity.”*


In addition to news media coverage, earned media includes mentions on social media, reviews, feedback, and blog posts referencing you.


Learn how to measure earned media.

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What is shared media?

Shared media is social media. It’s constantly evolving and continues to build beyond just marketing and customer service team use. Organizations have begun to use it as their main source of communications internally and externally.


Learn how to measure shared media. 

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What is owned media?

Owned media describes channels you control. It’s the content you create for your website and blog, as well as e-books, white papers, presentations, etc. You fully control the content and its distribution. (If you can add, edit, and delete the content, you probably own it.)


Some suggest that social media is owned media. However, because social media companies technically lease or license an account to you and have the ability to take it away at any time per their terms and conditions, we prefer to view this as shared media.


Learn how to measure owned media.

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What is paid media?

Paid media is advertising, advertorials, sponsorships, and sponsored content (i.e., content you pay for). This may include ads on the radio, TV, and in print, as well as any other paid activities. Paid media also includes online ads, such as pay-per-click and Google Adwords, social media advertising for Facebook and Twitter, sponsored posts, and (banner) ads.


Axia is a PR firm, so we don’t specialize in or generally offer paid media services. However, for our clients who use shared media, we highly recommend they have a portion of their budget earmarked for sponsoring posts, which is really paid media.


* Side note: Most PR pros frown on using the words publicity and spin. Those terms sound gimmicky and don’t represent the strategic approach that smart PR programs strive for. We prefer the terms earned media coverage and positioning.


Axia Public Relations moves beyond traditional PR to help you create a targeted, effective plan for increased visibility and brand loyalty that ensures that you’re getting the most from your PR investment. Download our e-book “Maximize Your Public Relations Investment” today.

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Topics: shared media, earned media, owned media

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