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  • Writer's pictureMary Callahan

What Is Owned Media and How Can It Help Your Brand

When it comes to digital marketing, there are four categories of media content: Owned, Earned, Paid, and Shared.

  • Owned Media is that which your brand creates and fully owns like your website, blog, and social channels.

  • Earned Media comes from your established reputation (you earn publicity by doing your work well). It takes the form of press releases, blogger or influencer relationships, word of mouth, awards and recognition, and other media ties.

  • Paid Media is content that you pay for. This includes advertising, sponsored content, boosted posts, lead generation, and influencer, event, and experiential marketing.

  • Shared Media comes from community engagement with and about your brand. Think social media, online reviews, word of mouth referrals, quotes, comments, and other user generated content (UGC).

Each medium has its own purpose—as well as its own benefits and challenges. You want all four types to be part of your marketing arsenal so you can build awareness and trust across a broad customer base. While paid media gets views, earned media establishes credibility, and shared media builds community, owned media is the foundation that holds everything together. In this blog, we’ll focus on owned media and discuss why it’s so essential for building a strong brand.

Owned media includes all the channels a brand controls—your website, blog, email newsletters, forums, and social media accounts. While it may be the foundation of your branding, that doesn’t mean it’s without its flaws…


  • Full creative control

  • Cost efficiency

  • Direct publication

  • Versatility

  • Targeted messaging

  • Build relationships with customers

  • Low-risk

  • Long-term asset


  • Cost of maintenance (time, effort, and money)

  • Building a reputation takes time and trust

  • Works best in conjunction with paid, earned, and shared marketing efforts

  • Not coming from a third party customer or news outlet

None of the four types of marketing media can nor should stand on their own. They are most effectively utilized in tandem so that all the strengths are represented and the shortcomings are accounted for by the other media formats. If you’re doing it right, media marketing is like an ever-circulating ecosystem. You’re doing great work and showing that off. And if what you’re saying is true, others will show their support.

It takes effort

But back to owned media…How can a brand build a strong owned media foundation to support their tangential earned, paid, and shared media endeavors? Well, the first thing to note is that owned media takes TIME and ENERGY. You are literally creating your own content—web design, photography, copy, graphics, and more. While this takes a lot of work up front, it will serve and save your brand in the long-run.

Take, for example, organizing your own brand photoshoot (**insert link to blog) versus sourcing an aesthetic image from Pinterest. Certainly, setting up a photoshoot takes a lot more time, energy, money, and planning. But you’ll come out of that shoot with enough content to cover all your bases from e-commerce and Instagram to your website and e-newsletters. While picking a cute image from Pinterest might seem easier (and might be photographed impeccably), you’re going to run into a few problems…First of all, even if the image relates to your brand, it’s not an accurate representation of YOU and your specific offerings. Secondly, using another person’s image (from Pinterest, Instagram, or anywhere) is illegal (since you are selling something via your brand, applying another creator’s image to your sales platforms infringes on their copyright). If you ever do want to share or use another creator’s work, always ask for permission.

Legal complications aside, cultivating your own media lays a solid groundwork for who you are and what you stand for as a brand. Creating your own copy, images, graphics, and designs allows your authenticity to speak through these media. Yes, it takes a lot of time and work. But, think of it as building your brand voice, aesthetic, and public image. Unlike every other media format, owned media gives you full control over how you want to present yourself. The more intention you put into this process (which is continual throughout your brand’s lifetime), the more return on investment you’ll see in the long-run.

Relation to paid, earned, and shared media

Owning foundational brand content will also help you as you branch out into paid, earned, and shared media because you’ll actually have control over the content that can be disseminated through other channels. A news outlet wants to do a press release on your new store opening? Good thing you have photos and a quote from your owner to back that up! You sign a contract with a social media influencer to help promote your skincare products? Thank goodness you have imagery, language, and blog links to support their promotion! Your team wants to create ads for subway cars? Great news—You can present them with a portfolio of brand images from your recent photoshoot! These are all relatively time-sensitive examples. Had you not had owned media to use in each instance, you’d have to spend hours planning a photoshoot, writing copy, and setting up a blog.

A foundation of owned media is critical for any brand. But that doesn’t mean that owned media shouldn’t keep growing and evolving all the time. Remember that owned media is what YOU control—what YOU have to say and show about your brand. So, as your brand evolves and changes, so should your owned media.

Tips for building your owned media arsenal

  • Organize a brand photoshoot to create a portfolio of images for all your outlets. (*link photoshoot blog)

  • Lay out a style guide that includes colors, typography, and other design elements reflective of your brand.

  • Create a media kit with your mission statement, history, staff listings, product offerings or services, press releases, reviews, and other notable quotes.

  • Add a blog to your website to up your industry cred and boost your SEO. (*link to ‘blog’ blog)

  • Curate your social media channels and always watermark your posts with your handle or business name (so that people can track you from shared posts).

  • Invest in paid ads to up your impressions on social media and your website.

Need help with planning out your owned media? Check out our photoshoot planning services here.


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