Gini Dietrich

Adapting the PESO Model as Your Own is Theft

By: Gini Dietrich | April 3, 2019 | 
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PESO ModelYesterday, while working on the keynote I’m giving next week at the PRSA Western District Conference, I Google’d PESO model so I could quickly grab our image without having to go into Drive, find it, download it, and re-upload to my presentation.

(There’s probably an easier way to do that, but I’m lazy and it’s far easier to Google it than it is to find it in our Drive.)

What I found was…shocking.

If you want to do the same research, go ahead and do it. I’ll wait. Just Google “PESO model” and flip over to images.

How many do you see there that do not have the Spin Sucks watermark or logo on them?

How many do you see that look EXACTLY like the original—and copyrighted—graphic without our watermark or logo?

I count 16, just above the fold…and that’s before I begin to scroll.

Do you know what this means?

It means people—professional people who are also paid for their creativity and their brains—had a graphic designer take apart the copyrighted image and redesign it with a new logo on it.

So as to make it look like it’s their own.

It’s not.

It’s copyrighted by Spin Sucks. And it’s illegal to take our logo or watermark out.

Just like it’s illegal to take an image off the internet and use it in your marketing without attribution (from places such as Pixabay or Unsplash) or paying for it (from places such as Shutterstock or Adobe).

The PESO Model is Copyrighted

I LOVE that the industry has adopted the PESO model. I even love that some PR pros take us to task because they think we favor paid media over the other media types.

(We don’t. It’s just easier to remember PESO than it is EOSP or OESP or however you’d like to prioritize them. The number one rule of branding is to create something people can freaking remember. You can remember PESO.)

I do not love that people think it’s OK to take the model and the image and pretend it’s their own.

I have a friend who owns a business in New York and he’s in the process of hiring a PR firm.

He told me one of the agencies who is pitching his business said they are the inventors of the PESO model.

Imagine their shock when he went to his office, got his copy of Spin Sucks and proved them wrong.

(Not to mention they’re no longer in the running for his six-figure account.)

The PESO model was launched industry-wide in 2014 in the book Spin Sucks.

We were able to provide articles, blog posts, videos, and internal documents dating back to 2010 that allowed us to gain the legal rights to it, which the publisher demanded before I could use it in the book.

The fact of the matter is that it could be one person’s full-time job to follow-up with everyone in the industry who robs us of our copyright.

People keep stealing it, as if they’re doing nothing wrong.

But it is wrong. IT IS THEFT. Pure and simple.

What if Someone Steals Your Art?

Let’s say you’re a photographer or an artist. You walk into someone’s home and, hanging there in their living room above the fireplace, is a replicate of a photo or a painting of yours.

But you don’t have replicas of your art. You have one-of-a-kind art.

You learn this person found your art online, took a screen grab, and had it framed so they could hang it in their home.

How would that make you feel?

That example is even worse than someone stealing the PESO model because you make money on your one-of-a-kind art.

They shamelessly stole it from an image on the web—without paying you for your work.

Or, another example that probably every one of you has experienced, you work for an organization or with a client and they let you go…and don’t pay your last paycheck or your last invoice.

They essentially stole a month of your work. YOUR work. The work you created from years of practicing your craft.

It doesn’t make you feel good, that’s for sure.

Err on the Side of Providing Credit

Our goal is to have everyone in the PR industry using the PESO model—and owning it.

The aforementioned keynote I’m giving next week is about convergence and how we’re getting beat up by marketers and SEO specialists. In areas where we (as an industry) have deep, deep expertise.

We want every one of you to adopt the PESO model and use every media type as appropriate for your organizations versus relying solely on earned media, reputation management, crisis, and events.

But for the love of all things good and glorious, give proper credit.

All we ask is you link to a PESO model blog post here if you’re using it digitally or, if in a presentation, you have a caption that says “created by Spin Sucks” or something similar.

And never, ever, ever, EVER change the graphic. If you wanted it updated, let us know!

We are super happy to work with organizations to make it more applicable to what they’re working on if it doesn’t hurt the integrity of what we’ve created.

There are PESO model playing cards and PESO model puzzles and PESO model templates.

None of those were created by us, but in partnership with other agencies or organizations.

Several times every week, we are approached by educators, authors, publishers, and media outlets to ask for permission to use the PESO model.

The answer is always, always yes. They are granted high-res access to the graphic and our willingness to help them promote whatever they’re working on.

Because they went through the proper channels and were granted permission.

Gain Permission So You’re Not Robbing a Copyright

The last thing we want to see happen is the industry get scooped up by marketing and no longer exist five or 10 years from now.

So please use the PESO model. Adapt it. Grow it. But give us credit for the creation of it.

And the next time you see an image or photo or GIF or meme online that you like and want to craft it in your own brand, think twice.

Get the proper approvals before you or someone else recreates it in your own brand colors and adds your logo.

Without permission, you’re stealing someone else’s work.

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 also has run, built, and grown an agency for the past 14 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.