Who Can Use the PESO Model?

(*Note: As of Feb 27, The PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass has already been conducted. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can click here to watch.)

It’s time for something completely new and different!

Today we’re going to talk about basket weaving and other artisanal crafts that are making a comeback among millennials and Gen Z, alike.

Just kidding!

It’s more of the PESO model.

After all, it’s PESO model learning month over here at Spin Sucks. 

It’s pretty clear I love it.

And I know you love it, too.


And because we’re hosting a really exciting masterclass about it tomorrow, it’s pretty much all anyone is thinking about over here. 

(And I’m in serious panic mode, but that’s not your concern. I’ll just be over here chewing my fingernails and breaking out all over my chin.tv)

One of the things I love about this model is it has so many uses, and so many applications, that it never really gets old.

(Although it does get polished and refined, which you’ll learn all about if you join us for the masterclass.)

Today we’re going to talk specifically about who within an organization can use the PESO model, the different ways they can use it…and what happens when they don’t.

Dun dun dun.

Who Can Use the PESO Model?

The PESO model is for communicators.

Communicators of all walks of life, professions, and job titles. 

The ways a CEO is going to use the PESO model is different than how an account manager will, and that’s different than how a ghostwriter will and that’s different than how an SEO expert will and so on and so forth.

Let’s get into the different ways professionals can use the PESO model.

We’ll talk about decision-makers, client handlers, content creators, and traffic drivers.

I have stories about how they can do a great job—and when it doesn’t go quite so well. 

Business Leaders and Solopreneurs

Business leaders and solopreneurs have the easiest time designing and implementing a PESO model program.

They get to make the final decisions or at least the recommendations that someone else will accept or reject.

If you’re in leadership at an organization, a good grasp of PESO will help you prioritize where your resources—both in time and money—should go to achieve your goals.

  • Is it better to invest in owned or paid media right now?
  • Have you been doing a good job with earned media?
  • What is the data telling you?

PESO answers these questions and gives you a framework to develop a balanced mix of media types.

Oftentimes, however, the only who truly grasps the PESO model and understands its implications are those of you who run agencies or are solopreneurs.

The business world isn’t yet attuned to the PESO model, which we are slowing changing.

Right now, it’s up to you to present it.

Present it in new business meetings. And when you’re interviewing for a new job. Present it in team meetings.

Continue to bring it up to demonstrate the type of work you could be doing, if you’re not already doing it.

What a PESO Model Certification Will Do For You

And if you are already doing it, bravo!

Now you can continue to beat the “this is measurable” drum in those meetings.

Demonstrate that, sure you can provide media impressions and earned media value and number of fans and followers.

But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Show those business leaders the other types of metrics you have—and how they’re affecting the quality of leads.

Eventually, you’ll be asked to stop providing media impressions and earned media value and number of fans and followers.

With the PESO model, you have a tool you can use to justify your recommendations, hit all of the major elements clients tend to care about, and generate the data that demonstrates how you’re earning your oats. 

While a certified PESO model professional doesn’t yet exist (you REALLY want to tune into tomorrow’s masterclass), earning that designation will give you a head start against the other professionals who say they practice a PESO model communications program. 

How to Get Leadership Buy-In

But let’s say you’ve demonstrated the power of the PESO model and you’ve shown what types of metrics you can measure, but leadership isn’t bought in.

Well, first, they’re about 10 years behind the curve, so there’s that.

But they’re also going to be at serious risk of investing huge amounts of resources in directions that ultimately go nowhere.

If a campaign is focused too much on tactics, or relies too heavily on a single element of PESO (shoutout to all those humans who think PR is just media relations!), then it’s not likely to perform as well as it needs to.

And the worst part?

No one will know why.

That old adage, “If I spend a dollar on PR, I know half of it will work. I just don’t know which half.”?


We can change that.

We just need to get buy-in and, to do that, we have to keep beating the PESO model drum. 

Account, Client, and Middle Managers

Now that we know how to get buy-in from leadership, what about account, client, and middle managers? 

It’s the focus on measurable metrics that makes the PESO model particularly useful for account managers—the people who have to create the reports—and anyone else who has to effectively communicate how a campaign is going to clients, bosses, or team members. 

Because PESO is focused on measurable activities, these professionals will always have the information, backed up by actual data, to convey how important a given campaign is, or to evaluate how successful an experiment has been, and so on.

One of the very first clients that we had on the Arment Dietrich side of the business (the agency) is still a client today.

When we first started working together, he would ask me for media impressions and advertising equivalencies—because that’s what his board expected to see in his quarterly updates.

It drove me nuts because I knew those were fluffy “metrics” at best, but I provided them every quarter.

After about six months of working together, I started to add in some other things—domain authority, search engine rankings, marketing and sales qualified leads (which we called top, middle, and bottom of the funnel), and sales that could be equated to our efforts.

At first, he sort of ignored that data and kept showing the board the media impressions and AVEs.

Going into our second year, he asked me to spend a little more time with him, talking him through the other numbers so he could better understand the work we were doing.

In his first board meeting of the second year, he presented those numbers.

I waited on pins and needles to hear back from him.

He called and said, “Yeah, I don’t know that we need to include media impressions and AVEs anymore.”

Hallelujah! I won!

Sure, it took 18 months, but I won!

We would not have been able to demonstrate those kinds of results—the results that made our client look like a hero to his board—had we not used the PESO model.

Of course, back then, it wasn’t a fully baked PESO model process, but that’s what we were doing.

Become a PESO Model Hero

On the flip side, no PESO equals no clear framework for breaking down the different component parts of a strategy, explaining the big picture, and communicating how each individual element is connected to overall success.

It’s still possible to run effective campaigns, and manage people efficiently without PESO, but it’s a lot more challenging. 

Imagine, if you will, you’ve spent a lot of time crafting a beautiful research study, complete with social media promotional materials and an earned media campaign that drives people to the website to download the study.

You have a small budget to test some boosted content and even create a retargeting campaign on Facebook and Instagram.

You can prove that your domain authority increased because, well, that’s a clear number.

And you can show how many people downloaded the study.

This is great because it’s a well-rounded PESO model effort.

But you don’t have access to analytics or the CRM so you don’t know how many people actually visited the site—or what percentage of them downloaded the study.

And you don’t know, of the people who downloaded the study, who went on to become a customer.

You’re stuck at the top with website traffic (because your IT person gave you a monthly number) and with the number of study downloads. 

Which, in and of themselves, aren’t bad to show, but when you start to take all of the work you’ve done and measure it to real business goals, you have to get beyond website traffic and study downloads.

Otherwise, you’re just stuck with the “so-and-so is great at building awareness for us” perception and you never move to a strategic business partner.

These are the things the PESO model will help you accomplish—and more.

And, when you work in a way that you can demonstrate business results, you will be lifted onto the shoulders of your colleagues, while you dance in the streets.

OK, maybe a stretch, but you will be lauded a hero! 

The Implementors

Now let’s talk about those of you in the trenches—doing all of the creation of the things that fall into a PESO model program.

If you are leading an account or a business—and you assign work to a team, it’s important for you to communicate how the individual tactics a person is working on fit the bigger whole.

On the flip side, if you’re the one being assigned the work, you need to understand how what you’re doing affects the PESO model.

This is why I say that you must have enough knowledge about the PESO model, the four media types, and how they intersect to be dangerous.

While you may not execute every piece—or be an expert on all of them, you do need to have an understanding of how your work affects the larger whole.

If that understanding doesn’t happen, it’s akin to having a recipe for chocolate cake, shopping for the ingredients, and baking said cake, OR throwing together a bunch of flour, sugar, cocoa powder, and eggs to see what happens.

You’d have some semblance of a chocolate cake at the end, but I’m willing to bet it won’t be tasty.

I co-authored a book in 2012 titled Marketing In the Round because this is such a huge problem inside most organizations.

People have their jobs.

They do them. And no one talks about how everything fits together or how the work each individual is doing contributes to the success of the organization.

The only way to break free of the isolation and silos is to ask questions and to provide information.

If the people executing the content don’t have a good understanding of where it fits in the big picture, it’s not going to be as good or as useful as it can be. 

When they know a given piece of content is going to become part of a larger white paper, for instance, they’re going to approach it a bit differently than if it were a stand-alone piece. 

The differences can be subtle, but competent professionals can make the most of them. 

If PESO isn’t well understood by everyone on your team, they’ll produce well (presumably!), but it might be geared toward the wrong purpose, or have missing elements that would make it more effective in the larger strategy. 

The Traffic Drivers

As important as the people creating, of course, are the people who spend their days directing eyes toward your website.

It doesn’t matter if it’s a blog post, a mention from a valuable influencer, or a kind testimonial on Facebook from a client, everything you produce needs attention for it to gain visibility and awareness. 

From an SEO perspective, these experts understand that a link from a high-authority website is the ultimate goal.

This is something we teach in the PESO model—how to earn a very valuable link and maintain a long-term relationship with the journalist or influencer.

While there are many SEO experts treading on the earned media ground, there is no one better suited for this work than communicators.

It is, after all, earned media.

The only difference is, as part of your work to secure stories, interviews, and contributed content, you’re requesting a link to your website with a strategic key phrase as the anchor text.

SEO experts understand this—and aren’t afraid to make that request.

Avoid Incompetency

But what if your SEO expert colleague is focused on getting links and you’re working on the earned media side, and you overlap your efforts?

If you get a story placed in VentureBeat and your SEO expert colleague comes behind you and asks them for a link, that’s a miss. 

If you work in silos, this is what happens.

The left and right hands don’t know what the other are doing and it makes you look, at best, incompetent.

Of course, you’re not incompetent.

But because you don’t have a full understanding of the work everyone else is doing, it comes across that way.

When your colleagues are out of the PESO model loop, mistakes like the aforementioned happen. They also might be reporting the wrong metrics, chasing down less effective partners, or pushing your pages to the top of search rankings for the wrong search terms. 

While they might be doing a fantastic job, overall, if it’s not meeting the overall goals, it’s a waste of time.

This is not a situation you want, if it can be avoided.

And it can. 

With the PESO model.

When all of the different players in a campaign, from leadership to execution, understand a PESO model strategy, everyone will be empowered to make their best possible contribution to it. 

PESO Model 2.0

(*Note: As of Feb 27, The PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass has already been conducted. If you missed it, don’t worry. You can click here to watch.)

If you’re not already registered for the PESO model masterclass (how many times can I mention it in one blog post? I think the answer is four.), get thee over there and do it now. 

Even if you can’t attend live, get yourself registered. This will tell us to send you the recording, which we’ll get to you no later than Thursday. 

Click the handy, dandy button below and it’ll take you to a page where you can watch the PESO Model 2.0 masterclass for free.

Watch the PESO Model 2.0 Masterclass

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.

Learn More About PESO Certification

Photo by Michael Payne on Unsplash

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