Gini Dietrich

How the PESO Model Prevents the Media Relations Pigeon Hole

By: Gini Dietrich | February 13, 2020 | 
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Use the PESO Model to Get Over the Media Relations HurdleOn Tuesday, we started a conversation about the struggles most communicators have when working to implement the PESO model.

The struggles include things such as getting stuck in our ways, unrealistic expectations, and lack of big picture understanding.

Yesterday, Eric Schwartzman had a great article run here where he compared the PESO model to the strategic growth of a start-up, using Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.

(If you haven’t read Eric’s article, I highly, highly recommend it.)

With those two articles (and a podcast episode), you can begin to see how you might grow beyond the hurdles and organize the work.

The challenge that nearly every communicator we have talked to, worked with, answered questions from during keynotes or presentations, and answered on social media is that PESO is hard to implement because we tend to be pigeon-holed into media relations.

And it’s pretty clear most executives use PR for that purpose.

The onus is on us to change the way business leaders think about PR—and, in some cases, it requires drawing a line in the sand.

A line that says, “If you want me/us to only do media relations, I’m not the right person (or we’re not the right firm) for you.”

Doing PR the Way It Should Be Done

At this point in a conversation, the other communicator likely says, “Yeah, but you’re Gini Dietrich. You have the flexibility to be able to draw a line in the sand.”

Other than that irking me to no end (it’s an excuse and I HATE it; it also makes it sound like I don’t have to work for what we’ve achieved and that’s just not true), I am running a business just like some of you. And were I not running a business, I would be looking to elevate my career.

In both situations, I still have to make money—and I have to stand up for what I believe.

If you really believe the PR industry is evolving and you can (and should) do more than media relations, you absolutely, positively can tell a prospect or a potential new boss if that’s what they want you to do, you’re not the right fit.

That’s not to say it’s easy. It’s REALLY hard to walk away from money—either in the form of a retainer or a salary.

But, as Daniel Pink proved in Drive, we humans aren’t motivated by money.

Consider this: if you’re on the agency side, how often are you disillusioned or how often is the client unhappy a few months into the relationship because you’re doing a job you knew you shouldn’t be doing going in?

And, if you’re on the corporate or non-profit side, how often are you frustrated because you weren’t included in a meeting you should have been or you were asked to write a news release for something that no one cares about?

Admittedly, this is slightly easier on the agency side, but what if the sand line you draw is you will no longer do work if it’s solely media relations?

What does that life look like?

What Drawing a Line In the Sand Looks Like

Let me tell you a quick story (because I’m me and I like to tell stories).

In 2010, I’d had one too many prospects tell me they needed PR, only to discover what they really wanted was for us to get them on Oprah.

Being in Chicago and all…she and I were besties.

Ha! Hahahahahah! Ha!

I was super irritated one day when yet another prospect told me this.

I said to him, “It sounds like you have a really cool business, but I don’t think we’re the right firm for you.”

He asked why and I talked him through how important results are to us and how challenging it is to measure media relations alone.

I started to give him a list of firms he could call and he said, “Well, wait!”

He started to chase me…describing all of the reasons we should work together and why we should take him on as a client.

It was kind of fun! Suddenly I was in the power position—completely in charge.

After a few weeks of my playing hard to get, we agreed to do a project for him.

Nearly 10 years later, he and his organization are still a client and we do some really cool and innovative work with them.

They give us complete autonomy to do what we think is best for their business—and they fund our ideas (within reason and as long as they’re measurable).

Enter the PESO Model

Just like with dating, less available equals more attractive.

And, if you can demonstrate that you have capabilities and skills they don’t yet know they need, you are more attractive.

This is where the PESO model comes in.

Don’t get all wrapped up in the order of the PESO acronym.

As Eric’s article points out, owned media is always the best place to start.

Communicators are best suited for that role—we are, after all, writers at heart.

You don’t have to learn a new skill to add this to your list of capabilities.

Likewise, I’d venture to guess all of you can use social media effectively.

So what we’re really talking about here is gaining knowledge and experience on paid media, as well as on the things where the media types overlap.

Tactics such as:

  • Community building
  • Brand ambassador programs
  • Link building
  • Community service
  • Co-branding
  • SEO
  • Brand journalism
  • Email marketing
  • Influencer marketing
  • Marketing qualified lead generation
  • Sales qualified lead generation
  • Reputation management
  • Crisis communications

I’m not saying you have to be an expert in all of these things, but you should have enough knowledge to be dangerous.

You should know how all of this works together and how the work that you’re doing integrates with it all.

Conduct Your PR Symphony

Just like you should prepare to be the conductor of a symphony of artificial intelligence (or robots), right now is the time to learn these new skills.

The industry continues to evolve and, if media relations is a good percentage of your job, don’t wait.

If you want to learn more about how you can implement the PESO model and get past the perception that we only do media relations, we have a solution for you!

Our PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass. Which takes a look at how to implement the PESO model in the new decade.

It’s free. And we talk about all things PESO-related so you can draw that line in the sand. (Or play hard to get. Or whatever cliche statement you’d like to make about this evolution.)

You can get all the details and watch the PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass right here:

Watch PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass Now

Photo by Jukan Tateisi on Unsplash

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.