Fake News? Defining Owned Media, Earned Media, and Paid Media for Law Firms.

Earned Media

Think of earned, owned, and paid media like a three-pronged support – each element is an important part of the whole and all contribute to a complete media marketing strategy. Earned and paid media extend the reach of your owned media; and, to be successful, you need to amplify and scale your owned media channels. So what are owned, earned, and paid media and how should you use each to promote your law firm?

Owned Media

Owned media involves you talking about yourself on channels you own and control; therefore, this format should come the easiest of the three media types. Owned media includes communication channels within one’s control, and the more owned media you have, the more chances you have to extend your brand presence. It’s important to have channels and content you own, but they alone are not enough.

Most businesses underestimate the cost of the marketing they do in-house. Whether it’s the time you spend improving your website, writing blog posts, shooting and editing videos to share on YouTube, or paying for SEO services to get more traffic to your website, you still have to invest time, money or both.

Owned media for law firms and attorneys includes the firm’s own:

  • Websites
  • Blogs
  • Video
  • Newsletter
  • Social media channels
  • Brochures
  • Pamphlets
  • E-books
  • Whitepapers
  • Presentations
  • Company press releases

Earned Media

Earned media is media exposure you don’t pay for. It occurs when the media chooses to cover your law firm, and includes the residual exposure you get from these free placements. If owned media sites are the desired destination, then earned media is an ideal vehicle to drive people there. You gain earned media by getting press mentions, facilitate earned media by helping journalists and content writers author their articles, or contribute your own thought leadership content to industry publications. This type of third party verification helps build trust around your expertise, whether you’re earning mentions on external sites or you’ve earned an opportunity to contribute to them regularly.

Earned media is given to those offering credibility, value, and substance. Media is also earned when customers and the public share your content or speak about the firm by word of mouth.  In other words, law firm reviews and testimonials are “earned,” meaning they are voluntarily given by others. The biggest downside to earned media is it cannot be controlled or monitored by the brand, meaning the coverage could have a negative impact on your brand profile.

Earned media for law firms and attorneys includes:

  • Firm news published on websites other than the firm website
  • Firm news published in publications that are not the firm’s publications
  • Thought leadership quotes and insights from attorneys as sources for reporter-driven articles
  • Published articles authored by attorneys as credible authorities on the subject matter
  • News coverage of a firm’s press conference
  • Attorneys featured in news coverage, such as on a panel or interviewed as a subject matter expert for a news story
  • Blogs owned by law firms but branded as independent third party news sites
  • Testimonials and reviews of your law firm and its lawyers on third party websites (such as Google, Facebook, or Yelp)
  • Organic search engine results
  • Consumer to consumer word of mouth

Paid Media

Compared to the other types of media, paid media is easy to understand because it is basically traditional advertising — you pay to place ads on third-party platforms where your ideal customers can see them. With this type of media, law firms pay to leverage a third-party’s channel by sponsoring or advertising in third-party owned media, such as paying a fee to promote your content on another’s site. This is a strategy to employ if it’s challenging to gain earned media to direct traffic to owned media properties.

Paid media has the highest reach of the three types, and – for a fee – gives brands more exposure than owned or earned media.

  • Social media advertising
  • Co-branded email marketing
  • Google AdWords
  • Bing Ads
  • Paid content placement in publications
  • Paid event sponsorships
  • Display advertising
  • Sponsored ads
  • Influencer marketing
  • Direct mail
  • Billboards

Use Media Communications to Increase Brand Awareness For Your Law Firm

Regardless of the type of media, all positive media mentions are good for your brand. If your law firm needs assistance generating content for its own assets, including brochures, blog posts, and social media posts, we can help. This is what we do every single day – create appropriate, ethical, interesting, timely items to share for our law firm clients. Additionally, we help develop effective strategies to achieve earned and paid media. Contact us today to find out how we can help.


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