Nicole Sklitsis

Effective Communications Lies Within the PESO Model

By: Nicole Sklitsis | January 4, 2021 | 
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Effective Communications Lies Within the PESO ModelHappy New Year! We start 2021 off with a new series: the PESO Model in the real world. Each month, we’ll ask PESO Model certified students and professionals to join us so they can describe what they’ve learned, how they’re using it in their jobs, and how they’re measuring results. We hope you enjoy this series—and learn lots and lots from it!

Integrated communications is at the forefront of any successful public relations strategy. An abundance of tactics is needed to drive efforts and receive strong results. Without solid knowledge about integrated communications, public relations practitioners leave themselves at a disadvantage.

As a senior at the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University majoring in public relations, I have learned a variety of effective communications strategies through my courses, but one course stood out above all others.

In a course I took this fall, Advanced Public Relations Writing for a Digital World, I learned fundamental skills for media relations and crisis communications. I also had the opportunity to build my personal brand and strengthen my presence in the digital space, most notably through launching a blog.

I was challenged to create my own content, but also find innovative ways to spread that content widely. Now, as the semester comes to a close, I am not only confident about my integrated communications skills, but also know that these skills will set me apart from the others when I shortly enter the professional world.

My Experience with the PESO Model Certification

I would not have been able to do it without knowing the ins and outs of the PESO Model. Officially coined in 2014 by Gini Dietrich, PESO stands for paid, earned, shared, and owned media. Each piece of the model is important individually, but it is the way communicators weave them together that makes it so useful. If carried out properly, these four media types will make an average campaign an exceptional one.

Last month I earned my PESO Model Certification through Spin Sucks and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Relations as part of my Advanced Public Relations Writing for a Digital World course. The certification process was long and the work was demanding, but the skills taught are crucial for any public relations practitioner.

I reflect upon my experience with the certification process with the utmost satisfaction and encourage both public relations students and professionals to considering taking the course as well.

Why the PESO Model Begins with Owned Media

The certification course is broken down into several modules. First is an introduction to the course and the PESO Model on a broad spectrum. The following modules hone in each branch of the PESO Model, starting with owned, then earned, shared, and lastly paid. There are also two additional modules on reputation and measurement, and the course concludes with the final assessment.

You might be wondering why the course starts with owned media and ends with paid media when the acronym indicates the opposite. Trust me, if you are wondering this, you are not alone. I thought the same thing at first!

However, owned media comes first because it is the most important aspect of integrated communications. And besides, OESP is a lot trickier to remember than PESO.

Owned media is the content that a brand creates and controls. This includes, but is not limited to, blog posts, social media accounts, websites, newsletters, and video content.

Brands rely on owned media to drive outreach and find ways to communicate with the public effectively. Owned media is used to target key publics and increase brand awareness, all by using content that a person or company created themselves.

There are no third parties involved when it comes to owned media, making it that much more important.

The content is original and it is entirely within your control.

Additionally, without owned media, none of the other three components of PESO would be made possible. Everything starts with owned media.

Combining a Personal Brand with a Professional One

While launching my personal website and blog I worked primarily with owned media. As a student, I did not have the financial resources to pay for advertisements or partnerships to gain traction in that way. I was eager to find as many ways as possible to maximize using owned media.

In the PESO Model Certification course, Gini not only explains the importance of owned media but provides insights and resources on how to boost your online presence.

“Without owned media, you have nothing to share on social … and certainly nothing to show a journalist how you think or what kind of authority or reputation you have,” she says in the opening of the owned media module.

These particular words stuck with me. Although I consider myself a rising expert in many things public relations, I know that I need to use my personal brand as a platform to prove that.

I needed to find resources to help boost my brand’s recognition and searchability, otherwise, my owned content had no way to gain attention.

The PESO Model Certification course helped me do exactly that.

Creating Content Based On Searchability

I started off by downloading the MozBar, an SEO toolbar. For those who don’t know that this is, just know it is a lifesaver.

MozBar shares users with the most important metrics to generate content that will get recognized. Through a quick Google search, the MozBar will show any website’s domain authority, its relevance related to a specific subject area or industry.

By recording the domain authorities of websites similar to my own, I was able to uncover a strong benchmark of where my brand stood throughout the entire internet.

I knew the keyword that I needed to compete for and the areas I needed to have my brand stand out in, so I was able to create optimized content for my website.

The course liked to refer to this as competing. I have always had a competitive edge throughout my life, so it is safe to say that I was rather eager to compete for high domain authority and overall recognition.

I began creating a content map that started with the main topic or priority key phrase. The goal was to find a unique key phrase that would prove my validity and expertise about a particular topic, in my case, it was mental health issues among college students.

It is important to note that you need to get very creative when generating your content and strive to create a key phrase that will show up on the first page of a Google search.

With a unique key phrase, one’s brand will be seen as credible on a particular topic, ultimately boosting its appearance throughout the internet entirely.

The Future of Communications

I am confident that the information I learned during the PESO Model Certification course has helped me build my brand.

After implementing many of the tools introduced to me through the course, I gained more recognition on my personal website and blog than I would have otherwise.

These skills will also carry me through as I soon get a job in the public relations industry upon my graduation this May. I know that potential employers will be impressed by my deep understanding of integrated communications and the PESO Model.

I cannot stress enough the importance of this course, as it is an integral part of the future of communications.

There is so much to be learned from this incredible course, and it is truly in anyone’s best interest to invest their time in taking it.

About Nicole Sklitsis


Nicole Sklitsis is a senior at Syracuse University with a dual major studying Public Relations in the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications and Writing, Rhetoric and Composition in the College of Arts and Sciences. On campus, she works at the National Veterans Resource Center as part of the team for the Institute for Veterans and Military Families and is also the Culture Editor for Zipped Magazine. Past roles on campus include the former Social Media Director for SU's chapter of Spoon University and an editor for Intertext, the Writing Department's student-run magazine.