Exploring the PESO Model for Public Relations

February 26, 2015 Max Bergen

We’d like to recommend a book. It’s called Spin Sucks, Communication and Reputation Management in the Digial Age. It was written by Gini Dietrich, a top PR thought leader and publisher of the wildly popular PR blog, spinsucks.com. Spin Sucks is full of great tips and tools for modern PR pros. It also lays out the “PESO” model for public relations. According to Dietrich, "If you aren't using the PESO model for your communications work, and measuring the meaningful metrics that help an organization grow, you will not have a job in 10 years." That sounds pretty serious. Let’s dig in.

What is PESO?

PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. Although each has distinct characteristics, they overlap and work together to create the public perception of a brand.


Image Source: Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich

Paid Media

Paid media is advertising. Anytime you pay for your message, content assets or logo to appear, you are engaging in paid media. Although buyers are less inclined to trust paid media, it still has value as an effective way to get your message to audiences quickly and in a form that you control.

Earned Media

Earned media is the result of relationships with authors and journalists. Third party mentions of your brand are considered more credible by buyers than those in paid or owned media. However, the press has no obligation to stick to your message or to mention you at all. While earned media is an important part of any PR strategy, it shouldn’t be the only strategy.

Shared Media

Shared media encompasses the social networks and technologies controlled by consumers. Your brand’s advocates and influencers live in the shared media world. They represent a significant opportunity to amplify your brand messages and stories.

Owned Media

Owned media assets are those that you either create or commission. They  include your website, blog, whitepapers, ebooks, webinars and all of the other content that you directly control. Owned media can be powerful if it is designed to be useful to your audience. It can also be leveraged as part of your paid and shared strategies.

As you can see from the graphic, some of the most interesting action happens where the media types overlap. A good PR strategy includes tactics for engagement in each of the four categories and the spaces in between. It also includes key performance measurements and benchmarks for each.

Gone are the days when PR was only about media relations. Today’s successful PR professionals and agencies have many tools for creating brand awareness and engagement. Those who ignore any of them will be obsolete and we don’t think it will take 10 years.

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