In the noisy world of marketing, there’s a lot of talk about content marketing these days. So what exactly is this discipline all about? There are various definitions, but most agree that it involves the creation and sharing of free and valuable content to build relationships with current and potential customers for business purposes. Content Marketing image

Of course, it’s not free in all senses – from strategic development to leveraging the right channels to dissemination at different stages of the buying cycle to integration across channels. It also doesn’t mean abandoning earned and paid media channels either.

There’s a lot that goes into a successfully executed content marketing initiative, including a balanced attack. To help you see the media landscape more clearly, here’s a look at the similarities and differences of owned, earned, and paid media, and how they cross over and can be integrated together for an optimal approach.

Owned Media – communications through channels within a company’s owned assets such as websites, blogs or email. Since this means more than company newsletters, these pieces should be written with the intent to not only provide quality content for a specific audience, but possess the potential to gain mass appeal when shared (strong SEO is always good!). Gaining a larger reach will move this type of owned media into a realm of earned media.

Earned Media – pitching the right material to the right audience and earning publicity by offering worthwhile content. Earned media crosses into both owned and paid media realms by utilizing social media channels and targeting specific audiences across numerous, specific digital channels. With so many outlets to reach an audience, earned media needs to be aimed appropriately to maximize opportunities for exposure.

Paid Media – paying for an audience’s attention. This doesn’t mean just TV, radio or print anymore either. It means crossing over to owned channels to drive traffic through pay-per-click campaigns, streaming ads, AdWords, Facebook or LinkedIn ads, etc. Paying for advertising now gives you extremely targeted, trackable results, especially when used to drive audiences to owned assets.

Channels cross over

Although different, we are witnessing the lines of content marketing, PR and advertising becoming increasingly intertwined, complementing each other like never before. At the core, this represents an increased opportunity to deliver even more valuable content to your customers. Stay tuned for the next blog in this series, as we will explore how to tell the same message, three different ways, to implement the most effective, fully integrated communications strategy.