Gini Dietrich

The Executive’s Guide to the PESO Model: The Benefits

By: Gini Dietrich | March 4, 2021 | 
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2020 PESO Model Graphic ©Spin Sucks 2021The PESO Model is more than just a pretty graphic and a list of tactics under each media type. When integrated and implemented correctly, it can be one of the most profitable investments for your business because it builds brand awareness and it generates qualified leads.

But it also is often mishandled, not implemented correctly, and not set up for business success, nor measured for organizational results. This is because many professionals still look at the PESO Model graphic and think, “Oh, this is easy! If I just add some social media advertising and influencer relations to my existing plan, I’ll have made it work.”

That’s not the case at all. Just like you can’t stare at a map of a foreign country and think, “Oh, this is easy. I can see Johannesburg is just a little hockey stick drive to Cape Town. No problem.”

Sure, you might eventually get there, but it’d be a lot, lot easier if you had a strategy and a plan that got you there most efficiently.

Because of this haphazard approach, we often hear executives say, “I spent a ton of money on communications and it didn’t work.” Or, “My marketing team can’t tell me how many qualified leads they’re generating and I don’t know how much of the budget we’re just lighting on fire.” Or (my favorite), “Hiring an agency is like donating money. You write them a check and they walk away.”

In this seven-part series, learn the basics of the PESO Model, how it works and why, what benefits it offers to your business, how to make sure you or your team is implementing it correctly, and which tools you’ll need to use for lasting success.

Let’s get started!

The Benefits of Investing In the PESO Model

Whether or not you are already using the PESO Model, it’s important to know where your investment is going and why.

When presented with investing in a new marketing process, channel, or even tactic for your business, the question that undoubtedly looms largest is, “How will this benefit us?”

Perhaps you’ve been approached by agencies claiming to have all the answers—only to discover they have none. Or your marketing team is inundated with helping sales with presentations and materials, but not actually marketing the business. Or you have multiple channels vying for precious resources and you need to make a tough decision as to what to keep and what to drop—and how to reallocate resources.

How do you choose?

Because the PESO Model is integrated and includes both brand awareness and lead generation activities, it’s one of the most effective processes you can use to market your organization.

But it’s also challenging to implement, especially if you don’t have someone who understands how each media types work together—and the talent on your team or outsourced to be able to do the work effectively.

What Is the PESO Model?

The PESO Model is a marketing or communications process that integrates four media types—paid, earned, shared, and owned media.

  • 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. 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.

Give Me the Golden Ticket!

We’ll talk a lot in this series about how to make the PESO Model work, where to start, what to look for in either internal team members or external resources, and how to hold them accountable.

For now, what you need to do next is do an audit of the marketing and communications expertise that already exists.

  • Do you have an agency? Where does their expertise lie?
  • Who is on your internal team? Do you have someone who can handle each media type? Look at marketing, communications, IT, website, SEO, copywriting, media relations—everything people do internally to help you communicate externally.
  • Which content already exists? How updated is your website? Does your blog need a refresh—or does one exist? When was the last time you created really good, thoughtful content that prospects downloaded?
  • Do you currently have a lead nurturing program? If yes, what does it consist of? How engaged is it? Is it driving qualified leads?
  • Do you do any paid media? PPC? Social media advertising? Other search engine marketing? Is that generating qualified leads or building awareness or both or neither?
  • What do your social channels look like? Sparse and empty or engaged and interesting?
  • Do industry journalists know who you are? Are you quoted as a source in industry stories? Have you been featured in your top-tier publications?
  • What is your current market share? Where is the competition beating you? What do they do that you’d like to be doing?
  • How are your search results for the keywords or phrases that are important to your organization? Are you found on the first page of Google results or do people have to search to find you?

You don’t have to do this audit yourself, of course, but you should ask for information on all of these things, both to inform your decision-making and to figure out where your weaknesses lie should you implement a PESO Model program.

Once you have a good grasp on the basics of the PESO Model—and either discover you’re doing some things great and some not-so-well or not at all, you’ll be able to get started.

What to Expect Next In the Series

During the next several weeks, we’ll give you all of the tools, information, and knowledge you need to understand how the PESO Model works, what should be expected from your team, and what can be measured (and what should be chalked up to brand awareness and reputation management), and we’ll lead you straight to why it works.

In the meantime, if you have questions for us—or there is something specific you’d like to know more about—you can drop a note in email, drop a comment here, or join the Spin Sucks Community.

About 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.