Gini Dietrich

The PESO Model as it Relates to Professional Development

By: Gini Dietrich | March 14, 2019 | 
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PESO ModelThis week I’ve focused a bunch on professional development.

On Tuesday, we talked about eight goals to set you apart and yesterday, we talked about how to make it a priority.

The always-on nature of our industry makes the idea of training and coursework nearly impossible. Who has the time?

Check that. You make the time for what’s important, so instead of “who has the time?” let’s ask “what are you going to spend that time on?” What’s going to make the most difference in your business or in your career? What addresses the biggest pain points of what we do day in and day out?

Enter the PESO model.

Today I’d like to wind down the week and talk about how the PESO model relates to professional development.

Before we get to that, though, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.

Professional Development and PR

The vision of Spin Sucks is to change the perception people have of the PR industry through professional development.

Which means knowing the PESO model is important, and understanding the basics behind how it works, isn’t always enough to move the needle.

Baking it into your process—your DNA—takes time and practice.

So, how does the PESO model fit into your particular DNA? Where are the gaps?

You may know that the PESO model is about integrating the four media types—paid, earned, shared and owned—but are there areas you need help with?  

  • Paid media. Think social media ads, Outbrain for content amplification, and email marketing.
  • Earned media. This is getting coverage for your client or brand in print, online, or in broadcast. It’s what the PR industry is typically known for because it’s one of the few tangible things we do.
  • Shared media. Also known as social media. Organizations have begun to use it as their main source of communications internally and externally. But think outside the box: it’s putting the social back in social media by creating engagement and community.
  • Owned media. It’s content! It is something you own, and it lives on your website or blog.

Not everyone can rock each of these channels. And, even if you can, the nature of the industry is all about change and evolution.

What was true about shared media at the beginning of last year has already changed this year.

Algorithms change. Best practices are supplanted by “better ones.” So, we keep learning, and we practice how to use the PESO model effectively.

PESO Model Metrics

Along those same lines, it’s no secret that the PESO model changed the game for many communicators because it brought metrics and measurement firmly into the fold.

I know, I know. When I say metrics, many communicators think math.

And how many of you went into PR because you hate math?

But PR metrics are not math. Think data.

Data is what we use to tell our stories… results-driven stories!

The only way the PESO model can give PR pros a seat at the executive table is to measure, measure, and measure some more.

Without measuring your PESO model activities’ effectiveness, you don’t know where to focus.

  • Which topics are truly engaging your audience?
  • Which channels drive the most traffic?
  • What publications are bombing with our audience?

These are all answers only data can give you.

If you want PR to be seen as a relevant, valuable partner in driving business results—instead of a fluffy nice-to-have budget expense item, you have to get over that.

Sharing business results—such as how many leads your PR programs drove—increases the esteem your colleagues have for the work you do.

In time, you may even come to find it to be invigorating and inspiring to be able to see how that work is driving business results.

Don’t worry, if this sounds like something you have traditionally stayed away from, we’re here to help.

Because, as we’ve said, knowing why the PESO model is so important is only the first step.

The next? Actively incorporating it into your process.

The PESO Model and Paid Media

Another category I often get some wrinkled brows from is paid media.

The “P” in the PESO model.

First, because even though it’s the letter that starts the acronym, it’s not what we start with strategically. Owned is the starting point, but it, along with earned media, are the areas most communicators are already the most comfortable.

We’re talking about paid as an example because it’s pretty far removed from what we typically include in our tactical toolbox, and we started this discussion about where we can focus some of our professional development attention.

Paid tactics have traditionally lived with our colleagues in advertising, right?

But before you ask whether or not this is a call for you to start boning up on your jingle writing and commercial filming skills, don’t worry. That’s not what we’re talking about.

Paid media is all about driving leads and conversions.

Think about it. You create some amazing content for your organization. What does the lifecycle for that content look like? How can you scale it? More importantly, how are you measuring how effective it is?

Paid Media Components

Think about the following components:

  • Landing pages and A/B testing. This isn’t magic. There is some amazing, and easy software (such as Leadpages!) out there that can help you to create landing pages and guide you through A/B testing. It can attach to your content management system (or, in some cases, it becomes your CMS), and it provides data and recommendations based on the people who are already visiting your site.It will recommend content for you to put behind a landing page. That landing page will then collect email addresses from the people who want your content. Those people become warm leads, which can be nurtured and eventually turned into customers. Track them through the buying process and measure the effectiveness of your ability to get them to buy.
  • Social media marketing ad conversions. Using data from Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, you can easily drive new leads to your website and track the PR measurement from it. Facebook, hands down, is one of the best ways to convert from social media. Are people clicking on your ad? What are they doing once they’re on your site?You want to see a correlation between people clicking and people buying, which should be included in your PR tracking.
  • Email database. There is almost nothing better for lead generation, nurturing, and conversion than email marketing. I’m not talking about your monthly newsletter that is distributed and talks about your latest and greatest products or projects. That’s not effective. People don’t care about you. They want to know what you can do for them.If you change your perspective on email marketing and offer content that puts your prospect in the driver’s seat, you’ll find it far more effective. When you set up your PR tracking dashboard, you not only want to see an increase in the number of email addresses in your database, you want to see an increase in the number of people who click on links in your emails. Set up your PR measurement program to include unique URLs so you can track what’s the most effective.
  • Leads and conversions. With Google Analytics and a CRM, it’s incredibly easy today to know if your campaigns are working. For instance, with analytics and your typical sales conversion percentage, you should be able to figure out how many people you need to bring into your website every day. You can track that through a consistently updated blog, a resources library, insights, a media room, or even frequently asked questions that are dynamic.The middle of the funnel could include some of the things that are behind your landing pages. These include things such as white papers and case studies. Then, they drill down to a more qualified call-to-action: schedule a demo or a sales call. You should be able to figure out how many leads at the top of the funnel will correlate a conversion at the bottom.

When I talk with seasoned PR professionals, their eyes light up when I explain this process.

Quite suddenly “paid” doesn’t seem so far removed from what they need and want to do to differentiate their offering or to drive better (more measurable) results.

But, as noted, many of them acknowledge that paid media and, more specifically, measuring and tracking the right metrics and results, aren’t components that they have spent a lot of time on in the past. Sounds like the perfect focus for some professional development investment.

The PESO Model and Professional Development

Overall, though, there’s a big, exciting PESO model universe to explore. When we asked at the top about your goals and how you were going to achieve them, this is what we meant!

Because, as we know, this isn’t just about paid media and measurement. These are just a few areas where communications professionals feel like they need some help. What are the gaps you need to fill?

We’re here to help you dig in and to provide the resources and tools so you’re not just talking the PESO model, but you’re ready to walk the PESO model walk as well.

Next steps? Check out the the PESO model booklet from PRSA (and me!). 

Because, remember: not only will this help you learn the fundamentals of the PESO model, but it will teach you how to effectively incorporate it into your day-to-day communications practice.

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.