PESO Model CertificationThe 2020 PESO model graphic launched and we broke it down here to show you what’s new, what’s been refreshed, and how you can strategically look at it when planning a communications program.

As part of the new graphic and process, we’ve also launched a certification with S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University.

Gina Luttrell, a professor at Syracuse, and her co-author, Luke Capizzo, are big fans of the PESO model.

Their book, Public Relations Campaigns, is grounded in the process we’ve created and used it as the foundation to what they’re teaching the next generation.

As academics, they wanted a model that would stand the test of time and clearly demonstrate how communications can help an organization meet its goals. 

When we decided we wanted the extra credibility of an academically-approved certification for the PESO model, we turned to Gina and her team.

Syracuse does, after all, have one of the very best communications programs in the country.

Kind of a no brainer—and it was exciting to learn they were as enthused about a certification as us.

The PESO Model Certification

What a certification means is that, when you go through our online program, learn how to effectively integrated a PESO model program—and measure it—and pass the tests, you’ll be “stamped” by both Spin Sucks and Syracuse.

It’s akin to a graduate level college course. You learn, you do, you graduate with a certificate.

There are four goals we expect students to achieve once they have the PESO Model Certification.

  1. The first is to be able to apply your knowledge and contribute to your organization’s business strategy with a PESO model framework that garners measurable business results. 
  2. Next, you will be able to design an integrated strategy and connect the tactics to business goals.
  3. You will be able to create an integrated lead generation program that demonstrates return-on-investment.
  4. And you’ll be able to develop measurable objectives and correlate results with organizational goals. 

Apply Your Knowledge

One of the biggest mistakes we see when communicators say they use the PESO model is, well to put it bluntly, they don’t.

They show the graphic and they say they use it, but in reality, they use only one or two of the media types.

And that’s fine—there are definitely some organizations that need only one or two at a time. But that is not a PESO model program.

We also find that they look at a list of tactics on a graphic and say, “Oh, sure. I can do all of those things.”

Again, not a PESO model program.

A PESO model program must have two things:

  1. It must be grounded in strategy. We find, because the graphic includes a list of tactics, most use that as a way to say they use the process. If it’s not grounded in strategy, it’s not being accurately used.
  2. It must include all four media types. It is like a pyramid. You can’t build a pyramid without a square for a base. If you try to do it with only one or two (or even three) of the media types, the program will come crumbling down.

To prove you are able to do those two things, we require you do work alongside the PESO Model Certification lessons.

That work will be shared with the Spin Sucks and Syracuse teams—and is required to earn your certification.

Just like in school, you have homework and you must turn it in in order to pass.

Design an Integrated Strategy

Being able to design an integrated strategy and connect tactics to business goals is key to understanding the PESO model and making it work for an organization.

The 2019 Global Communications Report from the Annenberg Center at USC shows CEOs not just want, but expect, PR to be measured.

Which is all fine and dandy in theory.

The problem is, when a communications program is not steeped in strategy, it’s impossible to provide demonstrable results.

I was talking with a friend of mine—another agency owner—just yesterday, about how hard this is for communicators.

We’re typically told what the strategy is and we have to design something around that.

Because of that, we’re relegated to being tacticians.

A PESO model program teaches you how to set the communications strategy, and tie it to that of the business.

And the certification proves you know how to do It—and do it well.

Create a Lead Generation Program

Yesterday must have been my day to have highly strategic conversations with other agency owners about our industry.

I also talked to Eric Schwartzman during his PR Tech Wednesdays show.

He asked me if I think PR attribution is the new AVE (advertising equivalencies).

No, no, no, no, and no.

I do not.

Here is why: if you can attribute a new client or customer came in through your efforts, you can prove the work you’re doing is truly helping to build sales.

This is what you want.

But, to be able to do that truly effectively (and not have the sales or executive teams roll their eyes at you), it requires a fully integrated PESO model program.

If you only do earned media, for instance, you can attribute unique visitors and an increase in web traffic, search results, and domain authority to that work.

That’s not shabby.

But those are vanity metrics.

They feel good, but they don’t mean a lot if they don’t translate to sales (or fundraising or new volunteers or new students or whatever your organization’s goals are).

If you can attribute unique visitors from your earned media and email subscribers from your owned media and engagement from your shared media and sales from your paid media, now you have something to write home about.

Correlate Results to Organizational Goals

The final thing you will accomplish in your PESO Model Certification learning is how to develop measurable (which might be my favorite word!) objectives and correlate the results to organizational goals. 

That PR attribution I briefly showed above is one way you’ll learn how to do that.

You also will learn how to do it in a way that supports sales versus stepping on their toes.

One of the most challenging things we’ve found in the eight years that we’ve been using the PESO model with our clients is sales gets territorial.

The PESO Model Certification online course will teach you how to do this work in harmony with the sales team (or whomever is in charge of growing the organization).

Cats and dogs living together. Oil and water mixing. Hair dryers in bathrooms.

You’ll be part of the group that builds the organization—and you’ll do it in a way that complements the other teams. 

Across industries, having clear goals and strategies to meet them is a challenge.

Goals are often pretty disconnected from the actual work.

This is frequently an issue in our industry because the work that happens has historically been separate from the results.

Not anymore!

Give Me More PESO Model Certification Details

The certification is an eight-week online course.

While it is self-directed, which means you can take it on your own time, you do not earn the certification until you finish the coursework and pass the exams.

You can very well do that in eight weeks. Or it may take you longer (and, so far, it’s taking people longer). 

To get support, ask questions, brainstorm ideas, gain feedback, or ask for a lifeline, you have the Spin Sucks community (and me and my team) at your service.

Once you receive your certification, you’ll have a certificate to use in your portfolio (and on your website, if you have one) and you’ll have a badge to use on your LinkedIn profile and in other social media.

Though we’re not there yet, our goal is make this akin to a consumer brand having the Good Housekeeping seal of approval.

You can earn it now and we’ll work in the background to build the desire for it among chief executives. 

It’s $1,250 and there will be a small fee every two years to re-certify yourself.

The  certification goes with the individual, not the organization that pays for it.

It can be included in most professional development budgets and, for those of you who own agencies, it’s tax deductible (in most states). 

If you have more questions, Laura Petrolino has a massive frequently asked questions blog post running tomorrow. 

But if you don’t want to wait until then, or you want to be certain your questions are answered, the comments are yours.


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