Gini Dietrich

PESO Model: Does Paid Media Belong with Communications?

By: Gini Dietrich | May 3, 2018 | 

2020 PESO Model Graphic

This is the fifth installment of the PESO model series—and it’s time to discuss paid media.

But, before we get to that, if you’ve missed any part of this, you can find the following:

Now that you’re caught up, let’s talk about why paid media belongs in the PESO model.

Does Paid Media Belong with Communications?

What did you do to amplify a juicy media placement the last time you had one? Did you send it to the entire company? Share it on your social channels?

Hopefully, you at least did those two things, but there’s a lot more you can do to increase the reach of your media placements and your owned content with paid media—the final component of the PESO model.

Paid media is what it sounds like: you pay to reach new audiences. This is important because you need to reach new audiences to keep your funnel full and meet your business goals.

Despite its importance—it is an entire fourth of this model, after all—it’s often an overlooked area when it comes to communications. This is due to the perception you need a large budget for it to be effective, or that it’s something you can only undertake with the support of an advertising agency and a media buyer.

Thankfully, neither of these misconceptions are true!

Paid Media in the PESO Model

In the PESO model, paid media includes paid social media advertising, content syndication and distribution, and lead generation email campaigns.

For this exercise, we are going to focus on paid social media content. For as little as $5 a day on each platform, you can test Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. They each have their native advertising options, and they usually offer coupons for first-timers. You have no excuse not to try it!

You don’t want to put money behind every single piece of content you produce. Instead look at the most popular piece of the month and amplify or sponsor that. Test it once a month on each platform and see what happens. It’s an inexpensive test, and once you show results you will quickly get additional budget to do more, we promise.

The CAB Method to Paid Media

I like the approach Chris Smith takes in The Conversion Code. He calls it the CAB method: create, advertise, blast. You’ve already created; now you’re in the advertising phase. Facebook ads work for this purpose. Not only are they the least expensive of the three, but they also work.

If Facebook ads don’t work for you, one of two things is wrong: your pixel isn’t tracking correctly (or you forgot to add it to the page; been there, done that) or the creative is wrong. First, check the pixel. If it’s working correctly, it’s time to tweak your creative.

If you have a lead magnet or a media placement you’d like to see get in front of your prospects—for the same price as a fancy coffee from Starbucks—you can do social media advertising. The very best way to test it out is just to do it.

Speaking of The Conversion Code, I love the way it lays out how to do Facebook ads. (If you haven’t read the book, I cannot recommend it more.) Chris Smith calls it the C3 Method: content marketing, conversion marketing, closing marketing.

In the simplest of terms, the idea is that you boost your content (content marketing), then you create ads to drive to something people will download—such as a white paper, eBook, video series, or podcast (conversion marketing), and then you do ads the drive to a sale (closing marketing).

Content Marketing

The goal for your content marketing ads is to build trust and authority among those who click and go to your website. It’s brand awareness at its finest, which is something communicators are extraordinarily good at doing. You’re not capturing leads at this stage, nor are you collecting email addresses. This is merely to get your organization in front of prospective customers.

Provide value, give them something to think about, and encourage dialogue. If your content does that, they’ll be back.

To get the content marketing ads in front of prospective customers, you can do three things: Upload your existing email list into Facebook and create an audience from that.

Create a second audience that has similarities to those already on your email list. This is called a lookalike audience. And then create a general audience, based on your industry.

For instance, we have a general PR audience made up of people who follow the industry trade publications and other industry blogs. You tell Facebook who you want to reach and they make it possible. You can get as granular as “Business leaders in Fargo who own a home and have three dogs and a swimming pool.”

Conversion Marketing

This is where the magic begins to happen. You know how you visit a site or, if you have Alexa at home, speak about something and suddenly you see ads everywhere for it? It’s not as magical as it seems. It’s because they have a pixel installed that allows them to “follow” you anywhere you go.

And you can do it, too! Now that you’ve had success with your content marketing ads, it’s time to retarget the people who visited your site with your lead magnets. Your conversion marketing ads should lead to a landing page that requires an email address to download the content.

This is a tried and true and very effective way to do your conversion marketing ads.

Closing Marketing

Now it’s time to, in the words of Jerry Maguire, “show me the money!” Anyone who has both clicked on your content marketing ads and downloaded your lead magnet are now warm leads. They are ready to give you their money—and are waiting for you to tell them what they can buy.

This was a tough lesson for me to learn. I figured if people wanted to buy, they’d visit the site and find something suited for them. That’s just not the case. Not only do they have to be told, but you also have to make it extremely easy for them.

For instance, I had no idea I needed Charlotte Tilbury makeup. In fact, I’d never heard of this brand. But, because of Facebook (and most likely a lookalike audience on their part), I am now a raving fan. They made it ridiculously easy for me to give them all of my money.

It’s OK for your closing marketing ads to sell. By this point, you’ve built trust and authority, and people are ready to give you all of their money. These ads can be anything that helps a person make a decision, and certainly depends on what you sell.

If you have a long sales cycle, you may have to lead with customer testimonials, then a demo, then a call with sales, and then a call-to-action ad. If you sell software, you may have to lead with a demo, then a call with sales, and then a call-to-action ad.

It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach, but it’s effortless to test and figure out what works best for your industry and your organization.

Create Your Landing Pages

Next, you want to create some landing pages. Because I’m the reason the entrepreneur stereotype exists, it drives me crazy to have to wait for other people before I can do my job. That’s why I was ecstatic to learn about LeadPages. Now I can create beautiful pages—and I do!

If you’re like me, I cannot recommend that tool more. If you have a web team or your client can create landing pages, you don’t need to worry about LeadPages. But you do need to have some landing pages created.

Start with your first lead magnet that you’re going to use in your conversion marketing ad and create a landing page. 

At the very least, collect first and last name and email address (but be careful about European visitors because of GDPR—you can have a box that asks if they want to be added to your blog or newsletter list).

Once you have that, and you’ve crafted the emails to deliver the download and have the pixel on your landing page, get to work on your ads.

Then you’ll be at the closing marketing phase of your paid media campaign on Facebook and can start selling.

This may require involvement from marketing and/or sales, but the exciting news is you get to take credit for any revenue you generate.

Finally communications can prove it’s an investment instead of an expense!

What’s Next!

Next, we take a look at how to bring the four media types together to build authority and credibility. And then, of course, how to measure your efforts beyond Facebook ads.


Do you want to learn how to build and scale an integrated communications program? One which drives real business results and shows the PR value clients care about?  Become PESO Model Certified today.

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A version of this first appeared on PRSA’s Content Connection

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.