2020 PESO Model GraphicLast year, the Global Communications Study from the Annenberg Center for Public Relations at USC found that 38% of communicators use earned media and 28% used owned media.

Only 16% use paid media and 18% use shared media.

Neither one hit the 20 percent mark for paid and shared media.

This makes me sad.

We cannot be successful communicators if we don’t integrate a full PESO Model (paid, earned, shared, and owned media).

I know, I know.

In many cases, paid media belongs to marketing, which means you don’t have the budget to test sponsored content or amplification. You have to go talk to marketing and sometimes that’s not where they want to spend their money.

It’s Just an Excuse

I call malarkey.

For less than a plane ticket—which doesn’t typically need sign-off within your organization—you can test paid media.

Once you’ve proven the test to work, I guarantee your communications budget will suddenly have some money in it to build on your theory.

And shared media, really?

How is that less than 20 percent of communicators using shared media for content promotion and amplification?

That doesn’t even make sense, considering most of us are tweeting and Facebooking and gramming our lives away.

We have to do better. We must do better.

After all, when we integrate a full PESO Model, we establish authority in our field. And, with authority comes both market share and Google share.

This is, after all, the golden ticket we are all after.

Start with Owned Media

To integrate the PESO Model into your public relations strategy, remember that all roads lead to owned media—so start there.

This is where you control the messaging, the anchor text, the links, the distribution, the story, and the audiences.

Without owned media, all of your paid, earned, and shared efforts are moot.

That said, your owned media efforts have to be smart, strategic, unique enough to rise to the top and provide value to your prospective and current customers.

How do you create owned media?


Start with an editorial calendar, and fill it up with engaging, educational, evergreen content.

Before you go crazy with posts, remember to plan your content around your goals and your audiences.

  • The top (or broad content) goals should simply be to build industry awareness, attract links, and reach new audiences.
  • The middle (or discovery content) goals should be to create awareness of a solution you have to an industry problem, awareness of your organizations, and help prospects to remember you.
  • The bottom (or consideration content) goals should be to build product awareness and convert prospects to customers.

Once you have your owned media in place, it’s time to increase your reach, awareness, and distribution to lead people back to your home.

We’re working backward from owned media, so let’s talk about shared media next.

Use Shared Media for Distribution and Promotion

This is where your social networks come into play.

It’s not one size fits all, but there are some best practices for every platform to help you get started.

It’s important to tweak your approach, test, rinse, and repeat.

You don’t have to be on all of these platforms, but wherever you have a presence, do it right.

  • On the day you publish a piece of owned content, share the link on Twitter four times, three hours apart. On day two, send it out twice. On day three, once. You can even send it out a few weeks post-publication to get a long-tail effect. CoSchedule can help you with that so you’re not constantly going into your older content to share it manually.
  • Don’t neglect your Facebook page. Post your content there once a day, and amplify it using paid media (which we’ll get to in just a minute).
  • SEO lives. Optimize your title, your content, and any image you upload with proper titles and post your content on there once a day. 
  • Pinterest is growing in influence and popularity. While it may not make complete sense for all of your campaigns, if you’re working with a visual heavy client, consider it to reach new audiences.
  • There are many other social networks (with new ones popping up every day). Do your research and establish your presence on the ones that make sense to your goals.

Paid Media is About Your Funnel

Paid media is exactly what it sounds like: You pay to reach new audiences.

One of my favorite paid social media experts is Scott Oldford. If you take anything of his—free or paid; webinars, videos, or eBooks—you will have a great funnel to lead people to buy in less than a month.

And it’s extraordinarily important for communicators to understand how all of this fits into the PESO Model and be able to do the work.

For as little as $5 a day on each platform, you can test Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

They each have their own native advertising options, and they usually offer coupons for first timers.

Give it a try!

You don’t want to put money behind every single piece of content you produce, but I would look at the most popular for the month and amplify or sponsor that. 

Test it out once a month on each platform and see what happens. It’s an inexpensive test and I promise, once you show results, you will easily get more money to do more.

While Counterintuitive, Earned Media Is Last

The last piece of the PESO Model is your earned media, which I know is counterintuitive because—as an industry—we are known for media relations. 

But in today’s world, it cannot happen without the help of the rest of the PESO Model.

How many of you have been asked by a journalist or influencer to share where you, your boss, your company, or your client has been featured?

I’d be willing to bet it’s most of you…and they won’t be as willing to run your story idea or interview your boss if you can’t demonstrate your ability to amplify their content.

That said, remember not every influencer is created equal.

As you’re identifying potential journalists, media outlets, and influencers, evaluate them on these factors: Direct influence on customer, reach or circulation, and ability to drive leads.

These relationships take time, trust, and due diligence, so earned media may not give you immediate results—which is why it should be just one part of your PR strategy.

As you’re building those relationships by commenting on and sharing their content, remember that you also have to work on your own content and shared media efforts so you can show them a big bang for their efforts.

Just like you want them to drive leads for you, they want you to drive website visitors and pageviews. Without shared and owned media, you’ll lose to someone who has those things and can help the journalist or influencer.

The PESO Model Drives PR Success

The PESO Model is a strategy to drive PR success using integrated marketing.

It is not one size fits all, and the right ingredients will vary for each campaign.

Start by creating strong content and use the PESO Model to distribute it to reach new levels of success.

PESO Model Certification

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? 

Do you want to stand out to clients and employers, grow your agency or organization,  and lead the communications industry

Learn how you can become PESO Model Certified today.

PESO Model Certification

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.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich