Gini Dietrich

The Future of PR: Why We Must Own the PESO Model

By: Gini Dietrich | April 18, 2019 | 

PESO modelIn 2017, the Global Communications Report out of the Annenberg Center at USC, stated that 60% of marketers and communicators predicted the two would become one by 2022.

That’s only three years away. And it’s not good…the prediction may actually come true.

I don’t know that it’ll happen by 2022, but I’m willing to bet it does in the next decade.

Here’s why: this year’s Global Communications Report shows nothing has changed.

What’s worse, marketers are beginning to own content and social media. And, in the next five years, that trend continues and communicators are shut out of paid, owned, and shared entirely.

Which leaves us with…earned media.

But it’s not just us earned media belongs to now.

SEO specialists are doing earned media because they know how valuable that link back to an organization’s website is—and we’re too afraid to ask for a link when we do earned media.

While they aren’t doing a great job of it—and a lot of it is done by robots—they’re kicking our butts at our own game.

Relationships, Storytelling, and Communication

Some of you may not take issue with this, but it’s greatly disturbing to me.


We are relationship builders. And storytellers. And communicators.

Because of that, the entire PESO model should belong to us.

Earned media, sure. I would venture to say it’s the backbone of what we do.

But because of our innate ability to tell stories and make news interesting, we’re also content creators.

And because we’re relationship builders, we should own shared media.

And, while paid media may seem like it should belong to marketers, it’s email marketing and native advertising (the new advertorial) and sponsored content. All of that falls into storytelling and communications.

There is no reason on earth 60% of us think we’ll be one with marketing in three years.

And yet…

We Must Demonstrate Business Results

Part of our problem is we (the industry) don’t have a standardized way to report results.

And, while 81% of senior marketers in a Cision study said earned media is far more valuable than paid media, CEOs don’t agree.

In the same Global Communications Report, 44% of executives said they expect PR to help sell products or services.

So what are we to do?

Marketers are taking over our roles and we can’t live up to an executive’s expectations.

Sounds pretty dismal, doesn’t it?

But it doesn’t have to be!

What if we could show CEOs that an integrated communications program, using the PESO model, can help sell products or services?

It can be done, particularly if you’re smart about how owned and earned media integrate—and you aren’t afraid to ask journalists, bloggers, and influencers for a link back to some great content on your website.

The PESO model online course we’ve launched with PRSA teaches you how to do this.

It definitely takes some forethought and strategic thinking and, if you’re not willing to ask for the link, some attribution software, such as AirPR (now Onclusive) or Trendkite, can help.

But it can be done!

A PR Metrics Example

Let me show you how it works…

You place a story—contributed content, a feature on your CEO, an interview, or even just a quote—and it links to something relevant on your website.

Now you can go into Google Analytics and see how much referral traffic came from that one story.

In the content the story links to on your site, there is a call-to-action that captures the reader’s email address…which then goes into the customer relationship management software.

It looks something like this:

  • Story sent 500 unique visitors to your website
  • One hundred of those visitors clicked on the link to download additional content on the topic
  • Sixty of them downloaded content

At this point, you can report that 12% of the visitors from that story are marketing qualified leads.

Now they’re in your sales funnel and they start to receive nurturing content from you.

Within a week, 20 of them request a demo of your software or use a coupon or discount code or schedule a consultation call (or whatever you deem is the call-to-action at this point in the funnel).

Now you can report that four percent of the visitors from that story—or 33% of the MQLs—are sales qualified leads.

If sales then converts five percent (or one lead) and the lifetime value of a customer is $32,500, you can lay claim to that amount in your results report.

Of course, sales also gets credit, but you’re the one who brought them into the funnel and nudged them through it until they became a customer.

The PESO Model Belongs to Us

It’s certainly a different way of looking at things—and it does take some left brain jiggering.

But it’s worth switching your brain over once a month, as you create your results reports.

As we begin to show executives that PR does sell products and services, we demonstrate that the PESO model belongs to us.

And, as we begin to take a leadership position on all four media types, plus their integration, the threat of being absorbed by marketing disappears.

That is a future I can get excited about!

P.S. I will have you know that I went back and purposely changed “percent” to “%” every time I used it in this article. You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Thanks, AP Style.

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Photo by Garidy Sanders on Unsplash

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.