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Integrated Media: The Key to a Successful PR Campaign

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A big mistake I see in many PR campaigns is the inability to integrate earned, owned and paid media efforts. A truly successful campaign means you are reaching your target audience in as many mediums as possible. The goal is for your audience to say, “I keep seeing [insert your company or brand] everywhere!”

Our CEO Heather Kelly wrote an article in PR News called, “How to Use Integrated Media and Why it Makes Sense.” In it, she compares integrated media to plate of spaghetti:

The meatballs are earned media.

Publicity you haven’t paid for controlled by a third party, such as news articles written by a reporter.

Pros: credible, high quality, free, lives on

Cons: sometimes difficult to measure success, no control over final product

The noodles are paid media.

Anything with dollars behind it, such as sponsored content, promoted tweets, LinkedIn sponsored updates, etc.

Pros: easy to measure, can target by demographic, more reach than earned and owned media, can drive traffic to your owned media properties

Cons: can feel like spam, expensive, low credibility

The sauce is owned media.

You “own” and control the content; it’s an extension of your brand.

Pros: you control the content, easy to measure using Google Analytics, inexpensive, targets niche audiences

Cons: self-promotional, less targeted than paid, least trusted

So, what does integrated media look like in action? Here are some examples:

Hawaiian Hideaway is a high-end resort in Maui looking for more business. Here’s what a smart integrated strategy looks like:

  • Earned: You convince a Travel + Leisure reporter to write about the resort. “The Best-Kept Secret in Maui: Hawaiian Hideaway” appears in the publication.
  • Paid: Normally, you’d run resort ads on vacation sites. Instead, you use targeting tools on Facebook and Twitter to amplify the Travel + Leisure article. You pay to drive traffic to your earned media article because it’s more compelling than ads.
  • Owned: You post the Travel + Leisure article link as part of the introduction to your blog that lives on your website. It’s a mark of credibility.


Let’s try that again. Gouda2Go is a new cheese product for busy people who like healthy snacks. They want more customers.

  • Earned: You get Gouda2Go a front page story in The New York Times, because, of course.
  • Paid: Instead of running Gouda2Go ads, you pay celebrity fan and influencer Chrissy Teigen to post about her love for the cheese. She links to the NYT article.
  • Owned: You feature the NYT article and the post from Chrissy Teigen as part of a video you created for the homepage of your website.


Now that you understand the nuances of integrated media, you’re ready to hit the ground running. For your next campaign, make sure you earn the quality coverage, own the story and pay to amplify it.

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