Gini Dietrich

What is the PESO Model? A Week-by-Week Breakdown

By: Gini Dietrich | April 5, 2018 | 
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PESO ModelThe PESO model officially launched in 2014, when Spin Sucks (the book) was published.

For several years before that, it was the process used in my agency—Arment Dietrich.

It was something we worked with every client, but we’d never written down the process or named it. It wasn’t as complete as it was when I published the book.

But then, I read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business in early 2013—and learned how important it is for a service business to have a process.

And, for branding purposes, to also have a name to go along with it.

As we began to outline the process we used for clients and think about a name, I read Built to Sell. That solidified the idea that we had to get it on paper—once and for all—and use it to discuss our process with clients.

Enter the PESO model.

We finally had something that was easy for clients to understand—and for us to use in training new colleagues.

At the same time we were communicating it externally, we began to build the vision for Spin Sucks (to change the perception people have of the PR industry).

That’s when we realized what we were doing internally would be effective to the industry, as a whole.

So I included it in the book, to teach communicators about the process and how to use it in their own integrated communications programs.

What is the PESO Model?

The PESO model takes the four media types—paid, earned, shared and owned—and merges them together.

  • Paid Media. Paid media, in this case, doesn’t refer to big, fancy commercials and highly creative print ads. On the contrary, paid media for a communications program is social media advertising, sponsored content, and email marketing. Think Facebook ads, LinkedIn video ads (in beta now!), and Outbrain for content amplification.
  • Earned Media. Earned media is what you know as either publicity or media relations. It’s getting your name in print. Having a newspaper or trade publication write about you. Appearing on the noon news to talk about your product. It’s what the PR industry is typically known for, because it’s one of the few tangible things we do. The ancillary benefit of earned media in today’s digital world is search engine optimization.
  • Shared Media. Shared media is what you know as social media. It’s evolving as well, and continues to build beyond just marketing or customer service teams using it. Organizations have begun to use it as their main source of communications internally and externally. This is curated content, Facebook Live, and Instagram Stories. It’s putting the social back in social media by creating engagement and community.
  • Owned Media. Owned media is what you know as content. It is something you own, and it lives on your website or blog. You control the messaging and tell the story in a way you want it told. This is not hosting your content on Medium or Facebook Notes. It’s owning your content and the platform it lives on. You can use those platforms as outlets, but the reason it’s called “owned” is because you own it and are not renting it to anyone.

When you integrate the four media types, you may find you also have influencer engagement, partnerships, and incentive programs that extend beyond your internal walls.

And when the PESO model is working at its best, it can help you establish authority.

Authority leads to thought leadership.

Thought leadership leads to credibility and expertise.

Others see you as an expert … even your competitors.

And Google links to you on the first page of results because it also sees you as an expert.

If you have enough authority that both Google and your competitors see you as the expert, you win the human and the SEO game.

This is the golden ticket.

Why Not OESP?

As the industry began to take a hold of this process, communicators began to ask me, “Why PESO? What we do never starts with paid.”

I agree!

If I were to order the media types in order of importance, from a communications perspective, it would be OESP—owned, earned, shared, and then paid.

But that’s a lot harder to remember, isn’t it?

And what’s the number one rule of branding?

Create something memorable.

(OK, that may not be the number one rule, but it’s pretty darn close.)

PESO is a lot easier to remember and it also proves that what we do is integrated and measurable.

It helps us extend beyond media relations and crisis communications and event marketing and reputation management.

It puts us in step with our marketing brethren and it lands us a valuable seat at the executive table.

Where Can I Learn More?

In the coming weeks, we we are going to focus more on the PESO model, how to plan for it, how to implement it, and what to measure.

You can expect:

  • Why communicators should embrace the PESO model
  • How to use paid media in your communications programs and what to measure
  • How to integrate earned media so it’s measurable and leads to organizational goals
  • What to include in shared media and what to measure
  • How owned media builds authority and thought leadership—and what to measure
  • Metrics, a dashboard, and providing results to the executive team

There also is a grand surprise coming at the end of this series so you’ll want to watch for that.

In the meantime, the comments are yours. What can I answer about the PESO model now and in the coming weeks?

A version of this first appeared on the PRSA Content Connection.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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