When we hear the word “content”, the first few things that come to most of us include marketing blog articles and videos, infographics, case studies, ad campaign materials and webinars. These are content from different categories, produced in different formats by ourselves. But, is there another type of content or media out there to be tapped into?

Often compared to a tripod, your communication strategy should be supported by three types of media — earned, owned, and paid. While most of us are familiar with owned and paid media, the concept of earned media may leave some of us scratching our heads.

Distinguishing owned, paid, and earned media

Also known as “word of mouth” or referrals, earned media is not a passing trend. It has established its importance in communicators’ strategies. Consumers trust earned media the most. It is authentic and relevant content produced by fellow peers, with little to no underlying agenda.

earned media tripartite

As its name suggests, earned media is a result of your communication efforts through paid and owned media. The main difference between the three types of content lies in its delivery. Owned media makes use of channels that your brand is already controlling, such as your Facebook or LinkedIn pages, and company blog. Paid media requires brands to make a payment to spread their content through 3rd parties. Examples include advertisements, sponsorships, and paid searches. Earned media is completely different. In earned media, your audience is the content creator, as well as the messenger.