How to Use Earned Media In the PESO Model ProcessAll praise the highly coveted link to your website! 

In the PESO Model process, where earned and owned media overlap, search engine optimization reigns supreme.

Though SEO seems scary to a marketer or communicator who is not trained in the intricate details of the specialty, we are not going to focus on anything technical.

Rather, the process focuses on doing what you do best while implementing some search engine optimization at the same time.

Once you get the hang of it, it’s fun and measurable and you will fall in love.

With the process.

Not with me.

I mean, unless you want to fall in love with me.

And, on that ridiculous note, let’s dig into earned media in the PESO Model process.

What You Can Achieve with Earned Media

Today we’re going to look at earned media, how it differs from the media relations you’re accustomed to doing, and how it integrates with owned media to boost your search engine optimization and build credibility and expertise.

If you missed the high-level look at the model and the owned media deep dive, go do some reading (or listening). I’ll be here. Waiting.

With the foundation of your owned media program, you’ve begun to create the content in your plan.

If you haven’t started that process yet, now is the time. 

Because, as we begin to build the earned media foundation, it’s important to have content on your website and/or blog to link to from all the stories you’re going to get placed.

If you don’t have content published and sitting on your site, the earned media process in a PESO Model program won’t be effective.

So get going on your content. It’s the most important piece of this process.

Now that I have my mom lecture out of the way…let’s get started!

Building a Highly Targeted Media List

The first thing you want to do is create a customized media list.

While the media databases have a purpose, you don’t need them for this work.

You can use good ol’ handy, dandy Google. 

This is because you are going to tie your earned media efforts to the PESO Model process and not to mass distributing a news release.

In fact, if you never write another news release again (unless, of course, you’re in investor relations), that will be just fine.

Your earned media efforts through the PESO Model are going to result in something more significant than sending a release to a list of 1,000 media outlets.

If you did the work along with me last week, you have the start of a content map—or an editorial calendar focused around one keyword or phrase.

Take a look at the main topic in your content map.

The Importance of Contributed Content

To show you how it works—and how to build your highly targeted media list—I’m going to use “PESO Model” as my keyword.

Because…of course I am! 

Google your keyword or phrase or question that you created.

In this case, I’ll search, “What is the PESO Model?” and see what comes up.

So I searched…and now I’m mad.

We’re in the number four spot on the first page of Google results!

We have some work to do.

Oy vey.

But it also gives me some great fodder to build the earned media foundation around this question. 

This type of research—searching your keyword, phrase, or question—provides you a list of media outlets and blogs that already publish articles, videos, or podcasts on your topic.

This way, you know the topic is already of interest to them and it’ll be fairly easy to pitch contributed content.

That really is the key here.

Certainly any type of pitch will work—story source, interview, feature, guest, and more, but contributed content allows you to better control the message and the anchor text that hosts the link to your site on their site.

Who Is Producing Content On My Topic?

Back to my Google search. For “What is the PESO Model?”, PR Week, CommProBiz, and PR Daily on the first page of results.

They go on my media list.

To build the list bigger, go to the second page of results.

Here I find BizJournals, the PRSA blog, and Mashable. 

Just like that, I have six targeted publications and blogs—and several that are highly credible and authoritative—to add to the media list.

You want 10-20 media outlets and blogs on your list so keep digging until you get there.

Doing this work gives you insight into who is producing content about your topic.

This is important because it identifies publications to pitch.

It is considered more traditional media relations, but it works to enhance your content efforts, drive search efforts, and continue to build your brand’s, executive’s, client’s, or subject matter expert’s credibility and authority. 

If I continue down the PESO Model path for my content map or editorial calendar, a supporting subtopic might be something such as, “How do I use the PESO Model?”

Just like you did with your main topic, you search this one, too.

The results for this one are pretty similar, though the order has changed slightly.

On the first page of results, there are PR Daily, PR Week, the PRSA blog, and CommProBiz.

All of these are already on the media list.

You can take a look at the second, third, and fourth pages of results to see if there are any others to add.

From my research, I could add the MuckRack and Cision blogs.

There are also two results that are interesting to note: LinkedIn Pulse (which is technically covered in shared media and will help you distribute and promote your content) and Quora.

Quora is interesting to take note of because it shows people are asking questions about the PESO Model.

There are questions in this listing that are not in my editorial calendar, which is great!

Now I have more content to create and produce. 

I won’t belabor the point.

To build a media list that is highly targeted on your keyword, phrase, or question, Google is your friend. 

Let’s Talk About SEO

Now that you have that work complete, it’s time to start getting results.

You’re going to do this by combining owned and earned media for SEO dominance. 

Let’s talk about search engine optimization.

I’m not going to make you try to understand meta descriptions or alt tags or topic-modeling scores.

What I do want you to understand is how your owned and earned media can explode if you are strategic about how you use the priority keywords or phrases you’ve already built—and how to use them to gain links to your website (or a client’s website).

Search engine optimization is the practice of gaining quality links to your website.

When you create your highly targeted media list, you are building a list of websites that are credible and authoritative.

And, when they publish your content and link to your site, Google gives you a gold star.

When you collect gold stars, your website increases in search results—the holy grail.

Google (and the other search engines by proxy) ranks websites based on their authority—or how credible they are about the topic for which they present.

If someone were looking for an authority site on public relations or media relations or the PESO model, Google would place emphasis on Spin Sucks because we are seen as an authority in the industry.

But if they were looking for an authority site on accounting or gross profit margins or HR law, Spin Sucks wouldn’t come up anywhere in those searches.

The Importance of the Link

Google changes its algorithm constantly—and we typically see a major shift every 12 to 18 months.

When that happens, everyone panics and freaks out because they’re afraid they’ll lose their search rankings and their domain authority will decrease. 

That is true if you have shoddy SEO practices.

But if you always create the very best content on the internet for your topic, it won’t matter what changes the search engines make.

You’ll always be safe.

Let’s take, as an example, the BERT algorithm change from 2019.

This update allows Google to now understand context, including word order. 

Christopher S. Penn gives one of my favorite examples.

He says:

Let’s say you have a website about coffee shops in Boston, but the word espresso never appears on the page. If someone asks their voice-activated assistant about the nearest espresso shop, your site may show up in their search results because BERT understands that a coffee shop would serve espresso.

This means local content is going to be even easier for local people to find.

And insider lingo and jargon are going to be useful, both from SEO and engagement perspectives.

If you produce content that is created for humans first—which is what you likely do by instinct—it will never matter how Google changes its algorithms.

Where communicators need help is understanding how to take all this great content and earn a link from journalists and bloggers back to their website.

Search engine specialists understand the importance of this—and they’re kicking our butts when it comes to asking for a link back to their content.

The good news is, they’re not doing a good job of it.

This is what we do.

We can rule supreme, but we have to both understand how it works, and not be afraid to ask for the link.

The latter is the most challenging for communicators.

The Importance of Anchor Text

Second to earning the link to your website from a highly authoritative site is anchor text.

Anchor text is, for lack of a better description, the blue and underlined text on websites that indicates it has a link behind it.

You know….the text that you can click and it’ll take you to another website—an article, a video, a podcast episode, or other content.

This is where your keywords come into play.

If we go back to the example I used earlier, “PESO Model” is my priority keyphrase.

If I were to pitch an article to PR Week, I would pitch it as contributed content so I control the narrative and so I can have my byline on it. 

In that article, I would make sure that PESO Model is the anchor text I use and that it links to a piece of content that is housed on Spin Sucks.

For instance, one of my goals is to increase the number of Spin Sucks podcast listeners.

To do that, I might link to the first podcast episode in this series—the high-level overview of the PESO Model and how it works. 

By the time it’s all said and done, PR Week runs an article about PESO Model with my byline.

Because I then use PESO Model as the anchor text and link to a piece of content on the same topic on Spin Sucks, Google now knows Spin Sucks is an expert on this topic. 

This allows me to increase podcast downloads, tell Google that Spin Sucks is an expert on the PESO Model, and increase both search rankings and domain authority. 

With this work, you hit three of the most important things when it comes to SEO—and, because Spin Sucks has the best article (or close to it) on the internet for the topic, Google rewards us.

Yay! I love to be rewarded. I love to win.

And you will love this too, once you get the hang of it.

Earned Media In the PESO Model Process

If you want to learn how to implement this for your clients or for the organization for which you work—and become certified, which tells everyone you know what you’re doing and have done the deep work to put theory into practice–click that pretty button below.

And, if you have questions or need help, you can find us in the comments below or in the (free) Spin Sucks Community.


Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich