As you may know, I spent a few years working for a publishing company (St. Joseph Media) selling advertising space for Weddingbells and Fashion Magazine.

My clients would often ask me: “How do I get editorial coverage”? 

This is because the “word-of-mouth” endorsement from someone who is unbiased and trustworthy is one of the strongest forms of marketing.

But no marketing stands alone. There are 3 different types of media exposure:

Difference between earned, owned and paid media

This is a great visual from Hootsuite of the three different “camps”:

  • Paid Media
  • Owned Media
  • Earned Media


This typically comes in the form of advertising.

The sales reps work with collaboratively with their clients to ensure their paid promotional material (an advertisement) reaches that same audience.

In paid media, the purpose is to “encourage, persuade, or manipulate an audience (viewers, readers or listeners; sometimes a specific group) to continue or take some new action”

Two of the key elements in PAID media is reach and frequency: You want to get in front of the right audience and you want your brand to be seen a certain number of times (I’ve heard the “rule of thumb” is 8 to 10 times) in order for your audience to begin to develop a relationship or feeling.

You pay for the ad you’ve developed and pay for another channel to distribute it.


These are the communications channels that your business owns and controls: websites, email newsletters, brochures and other marketing material.

You continue to build trust with your audience by providing them with regular, relevant content that helps to solve their problems.

Typically, people that receive your information via these channels are already familiar with your business or may Google a keyword and stumble across you.


Earned media is essentially “word of mouth” awareness

In Social Media, this may include what your fans say about you.

In publishing, this is when an editor would feature your business in their publication.

The mission for (credible) editors, is to provide factual, unbiased information for their audience (whether that audience is TV, magazine, news, radio etc).

Editorial is unpaid content.

(Just because you advertise, doesn’t guarantee you will obtain editorial coverage.)

To gain editorial coverage, many companies invest in a Public Relations specialist who knows how to effectively “spin” or “hook” the story so that the editors will find it appealing enough to put it in front of their audience. The story usually has to be unique and compelling (hence why you pay a PR person to do the storytelling). PR people often already have relationships with the media outlets and know which person is the best contact for the best story.

In the world of Social Media, these lines are now blurred.

Bloggers want to be paid for their reviews but they are also supposed to remain unbiased and put forth the right review for their audience. This is muddy water as a paid review is going to naturally be skewed in favour of whoever is paying you to do the review.

Ideally, you want to encorporate all three types of media in your marketing:

  • Paid Media – where are the “eyeballs” of your target audience? Are they reading magazines? Googling search terms? How can you access an audience that doesn’t know about you yet?
  • Owned Media – people who actively have opted-in to receive more information from you are very valuable. They are a pre-qualified audience of people who want to hear more from you. Continue to nurture these relationships by satisfying their needs and problems.
  • Earned Media – help your passionate followers extend your brand. Empower them with tools to spread the word (ask them to share), ask them for testimonials and referrals. Reach out to editors and provide relevant material to help their audience solve problems.

Always be thinking about your marketing and sales funnel: From awareness to purchase, referral and repeat you want to be THE trusted resource for your audience.

ACTION STEPS: For each of the categories (paid, owned and earned media), outline one thing you can do to enhance your exposure.  

(Then let me know how it goes! Please share below what you’ve done and how well it’s worked)