Why Your PR Team Should Embrace the PESO Model

Public relations teams aren't just brand enhancers. Learn how one expert's framework for looking at PR can help make you a thought leader and potentially grow your business.
January 30, 2015

The business world, in the last seven or so years, has been upended with the introduction of social media and access to better data. This is good, but it also means change.

And change is hard.

Human beings don't always like change. Sure, we want the latest and greatest gadgets and love to try new restaurants, but when it comes to our daily routines and how we're accustomed to doing things, it's not quite as exciting as a new flavor of potato chips.

That's why the PR industry, in particular, has stayed somewhat stagnant. There are industry voices who will say any PR professional who says they can tie their efforts back to your business results is a snake-oil salesman. And on the other side, there are voices such as Monique Bonner, the vice president of marketing at Dell, who told Mashable, "It drives me crazy when PR people say they aren't in marketing."

PR is marketing. PR is sales. PR is customer service. PR absolutely can generate leads, nurture them and convert them to sales. PR absolutely can attract new donors. And PR absolutely can provide value to other stakeholders.

But your PR team can do these things better if it uses an integrated PESO model and stops thinking of itself only as a brand enhancer and not a business driver.

What Is an Integrated PESO Model?

The PESO model takes the four media types—paid, earned, shared and owned—and merges them together.

  • Paid Media. Paid media, in this case, doesn't refer to big, fancy commercials and highly creative print ads. On the contrary, paid media for a PR program is social media advertising, sponsored content and email marketing.
  • Earned Media. Earned media is what you know as either publicity or media relations. It's getting your name in print. It's having a newspaper or trade publication write about you. It's appearing on the noon news to talk about your product. It's what the PR industry is typically known for, because it's one of the few tangible things done. 
  • Shared Media. Shared media is also known as social media. It's evolving as well, and continues to build beyond just marketing or customer service teams using it. Soon, organizations will share it as their main source of communications internally and externally.
  • Owned Media. Owned media is otherwise known as content. It is something you own, and it lives on your website or blog. You control the messaging and tell the story in a way you want it told.
Spin Sucks 2015

Spin Sucks 2015

When you integrate the four media types, you may find you also have influencer engagement, partnerships and incentive programs that extend beyond your internal walls. And when the PESO model is working at its best, it can help you establish authority.

Authority means you're a thought leader. Others see you as an expert ... even your competitors. And Google links to you on the first page of results because it also sees you as an expert.

This is the golden ticket. But how do you achieve it? 

Where to Start

The easiest place to start—because you can control the messaging, the anchor text and the links—is owned media.

The first thing you want to do is create an editorial calendar. This will help keep you and your team of writers on track, particularly if someone is a subject-matter expert and not necessarily a writer. It's a great way to both generate ideas and hold people accountable. It is simply a schedule of content topics that helps ensure you always have a supply of written, visual and auditory content.

As you begin to fill in topics for your calendar, start with one large circle in the middle of the page. This is your main topic. From that circle, draw six or more medium-sized circles. These are your subtopics. From those circles, you’ll draw several small circles on each, which will serve as your supportive base.

Dietrich Content MapIn the above example, "How to Write Blog Posts That Get Read and Shared" is the main topic.

The sub-theme is more refined, such as “tricks to write popular blog posts" and "generate blog post ideas." These go into your medium-sized circles.

Then, the small circles surrounding that medium circle is content you can produce on that one topic. For instance, create a debate between someone in your office and an industry influencer, talk about trends around the topic or interview an industry influencer. These go into the small circles.

Continue that until you've exhausted all your ideas around that one topic. In this case, you would have 11 pieces of content that help extend your main piece and begin to showcase your expertise.

How Do I Use PESO in My Business?

Now it's time to use the PESO model. 

You have the content and you'll use shared media to distribute it, paid media to amplify it and earned media to rubber-stamp it.

Shared Media

Shared media definitely is not one size fits all, but there are some good rules of thumb to start with ... and then test for your own audiences.

  • Twitter. On the day your content is published, tweet the link four times (three hours apart). On day two, tweet it twice, and once on day three. 
  • Facebook. While the algorithm at Facebook keeps changing so only those who pay get their content to show up in the news feeds of their followers, you don't want to ignore your page. Post your content there once a day, and then consider sponsored content as part of your paid media campaign.
  • Google+. While Google+ isn't great for social networking, it's incredible for search engine optimization. Post content in there once a day. 
  • LinkedIn. Post once a day to your personal account, your company page, your showcase page and to the groups you belong to. 
  • The Others. It’s important not to ignore StumbleUpon, Reddit, Pinterest, Digg and some of the others. Test post in those spots just once a day and see what happens. For instance, if you have a nice image on a piece of content and you pin it to a board on Pinterest, it could help drive a good amount of new readers.

Paid Media

Paid media may be in the form of paid amplification (such as Outbrain or Sprinklr), sponsored content, native advertising or sponsorships of influential blogs.

It also could take the form of sponsored content on Facebook or LinkedIn or sponsored tweets on Twitter.

You can start with a budget of as little as $5 a day. LinkedIn also often offers free advertising coupons to those who use the social network often. Take advantage of those!

While you don't want to spend money to sponsor all your content, it's a good idea to test it with one piece each month. 

Earned Media

Now it's time to build relationships with industry bloggers, journalists and other influencers who may share your contentafter they learn who you are and what value you might bring to their readers or followers.

  • On Twitter, create a list of bloggers and journalists you want to collaborate with. This will make it easy to follow them, share their work and start conversations with them.
  • Create a list of books and podcasts you want to review. Every author and podcaster needs reviews and ratings to gain more traction. They may be appreciative of the work you do there, and may be willing to do something for you in return.
  • On LinkedIn, create tags—such as “influencer,” “blogger,” “journalist” or “super cool kid”—so you can easily follow what they post and then share, share, share! This may lead to new relationships where you can ask them to share your content later.
  • On Feedly, create a list of bloggers to watch. Then any time they publish new content, share it with your own networks.

Eventually these influencers may share your content, include it in their own content or interview you for a piece they're producing.

What Should I Measure in PESO?

Now that you have a PESO model working well for your content, it's time to determine the PR metrics and be certain it's working.

For each media type, there are different metrics to track. 

Paid Media. It depends on the tactics you use under this umbrella, but could include the following:

  • Social media marketing, such as Google AdWords. 
  • Landing pages and how many people download your content and go into your email marketing database.
  • Increases in the qualified leads in your email marketing database.
  • New fans or followers who come from reading your sponsored content.
  • Leads and conversions.

Earned Media. Earned media got its name because you garner results from the relationships you earnwith influencers, journalists and bloggers. To measure the effectiveness, consider the following metrics:

  • Influencer scoring: Does an influencer with 10,000 followers have the same score as someone with 1,000 followers? It could very well be that the person with 1,000 followers can incentivize purchase with 10 percent of his followers, while the person with 10,000 followers can incentivize purchase with only 1 percent.
  • How much Web traffic comes from a story about your organization? See if those news outlets and blogs are sending visitors to your site.
  • An increase in new audiences.

Shared Media. You have to track the number of fans and followers, because sharp declinesor a trend of decreasing followerswill tell you something is wrong. But an increase, week after week, do not results make. The following do:

  • Are you using brand ambassadors to help spread the word about your product or service? If you are, track their effectiveness.
  • Assign points to things such as likes, retweets, shares and comments. This gives you numerical data on whether something works.
  • Use unique URLs, coupons, discount codes or even telephone numbers only in your social media efforts. This will tell you whether you're getting results from these efforts.

Owned Media. The beauty of owned media is it completely integrates with the other three media types. Think about the following:

  • Pay attention to unique visitors, time spent on the site and bounce rate. Those things, like an increase (or decrease) in social media followers, can indicate success or failure. 
  • If you have an organized owned media program, you're likely distributing through email marketing. When you integrate your content with this paid media tactic, you can track things such as downloads and shares. Do people download the content? Do they read or watch or listen to it once it’s been downloaded? Is it so good they can’t help but share it with their communities? 
  • Are people sharing your content? This is important to know, because it provides proof to a new reader that you know what you're doing.
  • Track the effectiveness of a community (people who comment on and share your content) by whether they're referring business to you. 
  • Is it driving sales?

If you start with content you've created and use the PESO model to distribute it, it can help you find success you can build on. Start with just one piece and move from there. Walk, then jog, then runand then you can fly.


For more insights on how one company turns trending data into actionable pitches, access our exclusive video series, A Data Driven Approach to PR.


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Photos: Getty Images, Spin Sucks