In an ever-changing industry, it can be difficult to stay ahead of the curve and identify what’s next in the world of communications. At Franco, we fundamentally believe in the power of integrated communications, and we believe the future is integrated. 

If you’re a Spin Sucks reader, you’re well-versed in integrated communications. But in case you need a refresher, or you’re new here, integrated communications is about aligning your messaging across all channels – paid, earned, shared, and owned. (And if you aren’t clear on the importance of integrating those four buckets, stop reading this post and go learn about the PESO Model™. Then come back here and finish reading!)

This year, our team took a proactive approach to discover not only what our clients need now, but also what they’ll need in the future. To meet those projected needs and demonstrate our commitment to providing fully integrated services, we kicked off 2022 with the goal of putting most of our team through the PESO Model™ Certification from Spin Sucks, in partnership with the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. 

By the end of 2022, 83% of our team will have completed the certification (with plans to get remaining team members certified in 2023), further solidifying their expertise in integrated communications. 

Not only did we work to move our agency and team in the direction of the future of communications, but we also felt a responsibility to prepare the next generation of communicators. In the spring of 2022, Franco sponsored two students from the Central Michigan Integrative Public Relations (IPR) program to go through the PESO Model™ Certification alongside our agency. The pilot program was a success with those two students, and we expanded the scholarship to 17 other IPR students in the fall 2022 semester.

We plan to expand scholarships to additional students and universities across Michigan to play our part in ensuring future generations of communicators are empowered with the tools they need for successful careers. 

Investing In Integration

There were many reasons our team decided to fully invest in integration by becoming PESO Model certified, but the biggest reason was to prepare our team and future communicators for the continued evolution of the industry. Through the PESO Model, we can better serve our clients by providing the services they need now and anticipating what they’ll need in the future.

While we understand it may not be feasible for all agencies or companies to get their entire team certified, there is great value in getting certified yourself, encouraging your colleagues to get certified or sponsoring a student (or students) to get them certified.

As communicators, we have a responsibility to prepare ourselves and the next generation of talent for where the industry is heading. By investing in future generations of communicators, you’re really investing in your organization, as these future communicators will be the people you hire one day, and their expertise will be critical to your organization.

It’s also important to remember to invest in yourself. In addition to refining your integrated communications skills and giving you an amazing competitive edge, the certification challenges what you think you know about communications, urges you to look toward the future, and ensures you’re viewing communications programs holistically rather than in silos. 

More than just the opportunity for incredible professional development, the PESO Model™ Certification will ultimately best serve your clients, customers, stakeholders, and your entire organization. 

Once you complete the PESO Model™ Certification, you’ll understand how integrated communications programs are the most successful and effective programs because they ensure messaging is consistent across all channels, allow for a seamless user experience and establish thought leadership and brand authority. 

Integrated programs deliver maximum impact and are critical for delivering the return your clients expect and need to move their businesses forward. Gone are the days when every household gets its news and information from the 6 p.m. newscast. As communications channels continue to evolve and new channels emerge, an integrated approach to communications – where paid, earned, shared, and owned channels are all working together toward a common goal – will be crucial in ensuring organizations meet their audiences where they spend time.

How to Complete the PESO Model™ Certification

If the reasons above were convincing and you’ve decided to embark on the rigorous (but rewarding) PESO Model™ Certification journey, here are a few things to keep in mind: 

Do Your Homework

This is a robust certification. We had homework…and a lot of it! But we learned a ton. The certification material validated the work we’ve been doing at Franco for several years, and it gave us some new ideas to strengthen our recommendations and approach to integrated communications.

Block Off Your Calendar

Treat this like any other deadline or project, and block time off your calendar to watch the videos and do the homework. This might feel like “extra” work but remind yourself it’s something you’ve committed to that will help you down the road.  If you treat this like a “nice to have,” you’ll find yourself constantly pushing it off for other work. 

Pace Yourself

Don’t try to knock this out in half the time – because you can’t! Each Franco team member worked on their certification over at least an 8-week course – some longer. Work on your certification a little bit each day or week and stick to that cadence.

Use Your Resources

The PESO Model™ Certification will address many helpful tools you can add to your toolbox. Tackling your homework will be a much smoother process if you have access to Google Analytics, Google Ads, social media channels, Moz Keyword Explorer, and more.

Start Strong

Choose a search phrase/topic that will give you a good opportunity to build out your content map, guest article, social ads, etc. With a strong start, the rest of the work you do will be easier and more meaningful.

Testing 101

Go back and review answers to individual module assessments before taking the final assessment. This will be a huge help when you’ve made it to the end and you’re ready to take the final assessment. 

Mind Over Matter

Go into your PESO Model™ Certification with the mindset that you may not completely agree or understand everything immediately but be open to learning. Approach this opportunity with a growth mindset. 

If you’ve completed the certification, I’d love to hear about your experience. Leave a comment here or message me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

Nikki Little

Nikki Little is the Senior Vice President at Franco and an integrated communications professional with more than 15 years of experience. She oversees strategic initiatives for clients and the agency, with a specific focus on integrating and aligning communications services. Nikki leads the agency's integrated marketing efforts and is also part of Franco's executive leadership group, guiding the growth and evolution of the agency. She also publishes a bi-weekly e-newsletter called The MichComms Report that serves as a job, events and news resource for more than 1,300 communications professionals in Michigan.

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