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Creating a POEM: Understanding the Three Types of Media

Marketing is hard to define because it is a broad and continually changing field. Marketing is all communication from and about a company or organization and is easiest to understand by splitting into three distinct categories. The three different types of media have an easy to remember acronym, POEM: Paid, Owned, and Earned Media. An effective communication strategy will address all three types of media and integrate them into one cohesive strategy.

Paid Media: Any media exposure that you purchase goes in the Paid Media bucket, the most obvious of which is advertising. Advertising includes traditional print advertising and also Digital Advertising, like Search Engine Marketing. Additional bought media opportunities include sponsorships and “pay for play” third party articles. “Pay for Play” content is Paid Media that looks similar to Earned Media, the best examples of which are advertorials – an advertisement that appears to be an editorial. Paid media is typically the easiest form to track direct Return on Investment but is often the least credible resource of communication to the consumer.

Owned Media: Any media channel that a brand controls is defined as Owned Media. The most common example is a company website and blog. On a company or organization’s website, you can completely control the content and messaging. SEO optimizing your owned content is one digital marketing tool within Owned Media. Other examples of Owned Media include social media, a newsletter, and an email marketing campaign. Owned Media is a great way to connect with your current audience and nurture your long-term relationships with potential clients. Owned media can be tough to track but is a chance to share your brand’s story in your own voice.

Earned Media: Third party endorsements are referred to as Earned Media. There are two important categories within Earned Media: “Word of Mouth” and Press Exposure. Word of Mouth includes reviews, testimonials, and viral content. Press Exposure is traditional Public Relations – getting journalists and reporters to write articles about a company, organization, or issue. There is a grey area between Earned and Owned Media when a third party picks up Owned Content and posts it on their own site or publication in an implied endorsement of the content. Earned Media in all of its forms is the most credible source of media and the most effective way to reach a new audience and establish expertise with your current network.

A Note on Social Media:
Social Media can be used as a tool within all of the three categories. Within Paid Media there is Social Media advertising, an advertising tool that can target a very specific audience. A company or organization’s own social media profile is a form of Owned Media. Social Media can become Earned Media when your owned content becomes viral.

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About Michelle Stansbury

Michelle Stansbury is the founder and CEO of Little Penguin PR, a boutique Public Relations Company in San Diego, California. Her background is in public relations and business development. After graduating from Duke University, she gained branding and marketing experience starting up a new division of Abercrombie & Fitch (“Gilly Hicks”) at their corporate headquarters.…