Katleen Peeters

Visualize the PESO Model to Help Others Understand it

By: Katleen Peeters | March 9, 2017 | 
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Visualize the PESO Model to Help Others Understand ItDo you know the feeling when you know you are onto something great, but you just can’t seem to grasp it?

By visualizing what integrated communications actually means, the PESO model helped me tackle that.

A couple of years ago, I almost gave up on my career in PR.

I was just so tired of selling “air,” to both journalists and customers.

Luckily, I made the right decision at the right time, and learned there’s more to our business than sending news releases and chasing editorial calendar topics.

I now understand that PR stands for public relations, not for press relations.

And hey, it only took me five years to discover that. Yay!

Around the time I started feeling too comfortable in my new PR comfort zone, I discovered Gini Dietrich had come up with a methodology for integrated communication campaigns: The PESO model.

It was exactly what I thought our industry needed.

Not only did it map and make integrated communications visual, it also had the potential to push PR people to look past their blinkers.

It also promised to spice things up a bit… I was convinced that putting the model into practice was going to change my job, and my colleagues’ jobs.

Overcoming PESO Adoption Challenges

It’s more than a year later now, and I’m still a true believer.

PESO lived up to my expectations.

But I also learned a couple of things.

Breaking out of traditional thinking yourself is hard.

Convincing others to do so sometimes seems impossible.

In our case, we found what worked best was to develop PESO campaigns for new customers and projects, and then use those examples and learnings to convince existing, traditional PR clients of the benefits of the PESO model.

That is, if they are (a bit) open to it.

Another challenge was making sure our colleagues grasped the essence of what PESO is all about.

Reading and talking about it is one thing, applying it to customers’ campaigns is something else.

What helps is keeping PESO inspiration and visual reminders nearby.

If not, we always tend to fall back on what we know best. 

Putting the PESO Model into Action

Whenever we work on a new project, coming up with distribution ideas is one of my favorite moments.

Once you know what your customer wants to achieve with a new project or campaign, and you have a couple of creative and content ideas, you can start planning how to build up reach.

And by applying just the right paid, earned, shared, and owned tactics, you reach the right audience (more than once), creating results for your customer.

And that’s what it’s all about, right?

To choose the right distribution tools, and ensure you don’t fall into the “we’ll do what we’ve always done” trap, the trick is to visualize the PESO tactics.

If you do that during brainstorms with colleagues or customers, you’ll get a step closer to making the PESO model stick.

It goes like this:

  • Make sure you have the PESO circles with you (on a piece of paper, or, even better, on a whiteboard)
  • Come up with campaign ideas for paid, earned, shared, and owned media and write them down on post-its
  • Group the ideas in the different circles and vote which ideas can stay
  • Draw lines between the post-its to visualize the links between the ideas and call-to-actions
  • Turn the ideas into practice! (by using Kanban-style ways of working, for example)

The PESO Model Visualization Tools

Because our set of communication tools keeps on growing—the result of all that brainstorming—we developed an extensive list to keep track of possible PESO tactics.

That also ensures we can stay consistent in the ideas we propose, and we don’t reinvent the wheel over and over.

And to make things even more fun and interactive, we turned that list into a deck of cards.

They are easy to play with during brainstorms, to use as a visual checklist for smaller campaigns, or simply to go through and catch some new ideas for recurring projects.

For example, when you’re wondering what else you can do with that news release, the white paper you get to write for that tech client, or the work you’ll put in redesigning product leaflets for your healthcare client.

Feel free to use our PESO tactics list or cards during your own brainstorms.

We’re still working on improving them, so any suggestions are welcome in the comments!

About Katleen Peeters


Katleen Peeters is senior consultant and managing partner at Outsource Communications, a Belgium-based B2B communication agency that helps companies grow their business by developing and applying an integrated approach of communication. She joined visual thinker Frederik Vincx in his quest to make the world get to know PR Deck.

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