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The Differences between Earned, Owned, and Paid Media: A Beginner’s Guide

Owned, Earned and Paid Media Guide


Is media just the press? Do blogs count? What if it’s your blog? What is owned media, what is earned media, and what is paid media? While the terms can be tricky, they’re all here to help you deliver your message.

Earned Media

Earned media—media you don’t pay for, like news coverage—is a crucial part of spreading your airport’s story. Often as a result of press conferences or news releases, earned media provides direct access to your audience. Local news channels usually have a large following on several different channels (including their website, Facebook and Twitter), and are invested in getting their story out to as many people as possible. This can exponentially increase the reach of your message, which means more people will hear that you’re launching service to Seattle or that you’ve completed construction of your new parking lot. The potential downside is that while you deliver your message to the media, the media can report on the news any way it wants. Opening a new parking lot, for example, may lead a reporter to comment on how your rates are more expensive than a nearby airport. With earned media, you don’t have total control over the final message. This isn’t to say you should avoid the press, but keep in mind that it shouldn’t be the only way you speak to your customers.

Owned Media

Owned media are the stories you tell via channels you “own”—your airport’s website, social media channels, videos, airport signage, etc. This is the ideal opportunity for your airport to share its messages exactly the way you intend to, to a specific audience. Without the filter of a news reporter or the cost of writing an advertorial in a local magazine, you can promote your airport’s programs, policies, and the benefits you bring to the community. You also control the timing and frequency of your messaging. Owned media is the most common way for airport marketers to get their messages out, but it does mean doing all the heavy lifting yourself. You create the graphics or edit the video. You write the messaging or develop the landing page. It’s still the most autonomous way to go, especially if you have a following already developed, and gives you the most control over the process.

Paid Media

Paid media is exactly what it sounds like: the airport pays to run commercials, advertorials, billboards, promoted posts, and other for-cost ways of sharing its messages. This is generally the avenue you’d use to share the “big” stories—new nonstop destinations, restaurant openings, completed construction projects. Keeping in mind that not all paid media is super expensive, you can use paid media strategically to promote Facebook posts on the recycling award your airport just won, or other positive news that might not get a lot of traditional news coverage.

A good aviation outreach plan will have a healthy mix of all three types of media. For more information on how to craft your plan, contact us.