PESO model

The PESO model and how it can help your business or client

What is the peso model?

The term PESO model may not mean much to you, but if you create content for your business or manage any aspects of PR or marketing, you will already be utilising this model in some way.

First Developed by Gini Dietrich in 2014 it’s a great tool to use when planning for the big picture. It also helps put in context the media channels that you use and how they work together.

The PESO model combines media channels into a coherent framework. Not only does the framework provide an overview of marketing tactics, but it also serves as a helpful planning tool and enables you to look for opportunities that arise from the areas that overlap.

In 2024, Gini Dietrich has created a revised PESO model, so we’ve gone back to this original blog explaining what is the peso model and how it works and updated it with fresh insights from Gini

Peso Media Channels Explained

Paid Media

Perhaps the easiest to grasp, paid media refers to advertising that you pay for.

Traditionally, this would have referred to TV, radio and print media ads, but the advent of social media has changed all that.

A typical marketing and comms strategy takes in social media ads, advertorials, influencer marketing Google Ad campaigns, retargeting strategies and native ads (the kind that look natural on the platform where they appear), and possibly even forms of sponsored content.

What’s new for 2024?

Gini’s adaptions sit around the areas of intersection between the media model.

For instance, marketing communications has been adapted to sit at the junction between paid and owned. This accounts for the fact that while the output itself is an earned action, certain tools, such as email marketing, have a cost impact associated with them.

Commercial pressures from publishers to hit revenue goals and targets means pay-to-play is only becoming more prevalent. One of the big areas here is within thought leadership. Opportunities such as this are rarely purely earned media, with this kind of activity potentially sitting at the space between paid and owned media.

Earned Media

The mainstay of traditional PR, and an area we have a strong focus on here at AMBITIOUS, earned media refers to third-party endorsements. This might include online reviews, blogger and influencer relations, media mentions in newspapers, magazines and websites, link building and broadcast interviews. It takes in all the coverage that you don’t pay for, but that you have to work hard to get – hence why it’s called ‘earned’.

What’s new for 2024?

But perhaps one of the biggest changes, not just to the PESO model but to the wider industry was the mass layoffs in journalism. This puts strain on the earned aspects, purely by having fewer boots on the ground on newsdesks and newsrooms. Fewer people to pitch to, with tighter editorial deadlines and resources than ever before and the commercial pressures from publishers squeezing what may once have been just news, into paid media.

But earned media channels are broadening.

Gini rightly hits on the likes of Tik Tok and influencer relations having the potential to fall under earned. Gini also includes engaging with journalists – we’d also extend that definition out to influencers, analysts and such – on platforms such as Reddit, X and even review sites.

The natural growth and expansion of these kinds of engagements are adding more options and tools to the PR’s arsenal.

The earned vector now also sees amplified importance around SEO.

Where PR practitioners can add value and quality here, is by offering up, as part of their pitch, assurances that the copy they have written and provided to journalists has been keyword optimised. This could be a big part of earned as search becomes more and more competitive, news titles jockeying for position in the SERPs will need their content to be running at optimum, all the time.

Shared Media

Shared media is often bucketed as social media, but we believe there’s a wider context at play here.

Yes, much of the sharing is done on social platforms, and this has become a key driver in the success of any PR strategy. However, a good PR plan will consider the partner networks that can be harnessed too. Partnerships, charity links and influencer engagement all play a part in ensuring those shares spread with meaning across social networking.

What’s new for 2024?

The evolution of shared media has been one of the fastest and most dramatic since the original PESO model.

Gini has evolved the model from a ‘straight social media’ aspect and broadened the horizons with the addition the things like review sites, forums and more private channels such as WhatsApp, Slack and Discord. Gini has also added partnerships, voice search, content curation, publishing platforms and SEO at the cross-section of shared media and earned media.

Gini makes the point that organic reach may not once be what it was from a shared perspective. To an extent that is correct as people are migrating away from channels and outlets.

But, the PESO model attributes your own social media efforts to shared media. So if we look at this statement through the lens of content creation, it does potentially raise bigger problems.

Winning content strategies use organic owned content to keep their existing audiences engaged, entertained and coming back for more.  But they also leverage into shared and maybe even paid at times to break into new audiences.

If your organic social media reach isn’t hitting that key audience of existing followers, PESO isn’t going to fix that. Because you’ve got a deeper content problem.

Owned Media

This means all the content that is owned by you, and that you have full control over.

Note how we mentioned social media sits under shared. Under the PESO model social channels aren’t considered purely owned media. Because, if that social channel buckled or went under, your content stream goes with it.

Owned media, within the PESO model means anything and everything that is within your sole control. Owned media includes your company website, blogs, newsletters, reports, and white papers, and audio and video content.

What’s new for 2024?

Owned content options are huge now.

Want to do your own podcast series, it’s never been easier or more accessible. The same can be said for video projects. While white papers, site news, blogs and internal comms strategies and tactics all stay.

Gini has tweaked the model more at its intersections of owned and paid, drawing focus onto the likes of brand ambassador and affiliate programmes, native advertising, lead gen and email marketing.

The Importance of E-E-A-T

We’ve touched on the importance of E-E-A-T principles in previous articles, but the addition of E-E-A-T into the PESO model is an interesting one.

This is because Google has been on a huge pivot ripping out what it perceives as low-quality content from SERP. This makes room for content that offers experience, expertise, authority and trust – hence E-E-A-T.

This has a big effect on public relations efforts, media coverage and ripples out into the earned media vector and into owned media.

When a PESO model is properly overlaid with E-E-A-T frameworks it can enhance your overall offering, across earned media, owned media and maybe even paid media.

From an owned media point of view; your content strategy should be looking at utilising backlinks to verified and trusted external sources. This will give your blogs and news a big E-E-A-T boost. Over time this can increase your overall authority and push you up the search rankings.

But there are some things, within paid media and owned media, that are best avoided

Black hat SEO tactics are best left alone. Keyword-stuffing written content will see you fall foul of E-E-A-T guidelines. Utilise your paid media budgets with care. Link building for example has to stay within the earned media channels.

Also where PR needs to be careful with E-E-A-T and earned media, is in the verticals.

To put it as simply as possible, when pitching stories you need to take care that you’re pitching into the right sector and vertical media. This can offer its challenges, particularly for a business looking to break into a new sector. Because E-E-A-T is built around relativity.

This is where owning your own content becomes very important, particularly the building up of an owned bank of visible online content to act as an E-E-A-T support structure for your earned outreach.

What’s the best PESO model combination for a successful PR strategy?

While Gini goes to great lengths to explain how the ideal structure is a balance of all four aspects. In reality, this isn’t always possible.

Budgets for paid media, or joint paid and shared media relations, may be limited or not available at all. More often than not, paid media is the one that tends to shrink back. But a mistake that’s often made with the PESO model, is to assume that its spelling assumes an order of priority.

Successful campaigns, partnerships and ongoing relationships don’t really begin and end with paid. It’s a mix, and it’s up to the public relations professionals to recognise that mix within the nuance of each client or project.

PR professionals will still spend considerable time and energy developing earned tactics for their clients. But to focus on this at the exclusion of the others is to miss the point. The real magic can often be found in the cross-sections of media types.

The media relations landscape has changed dramatically in the past decade, as has the PR industry, and a good PR plan will recognise the value of considering the PESO framework as a whole.

The four parts – paid media, earned media, shared media and owned media – may not have equal importance in every campaign, but they’ll likely play a part in some way.

The PESO model in action

You need to start with what is the objective.

What you want to achieve will determine the approach you need to take and the tactics needed to affect a desired outcome.

For instance, you’ve created a great piece of content for your website. But that doesn’t mean it should just live on your website.

Consider how the PESO framework can be placed over that specific piece of content, to give it the best chance of being as effective as possible. It’s great content, but simply publishing it on your website won’t give it the attention it deserves.

Let’s look at the PESO model.

When it comes to owned media, not only can you use your blog to publish it, but you can also feature it in your next newsletter, social media posts and on prominent promo spots around your website to link visitors to the blog post.

Opportunities to gain earned media may be less obvious, but there are often ways to get those important media mentions.

Scan the content for newsworthy topics. Is there something relevant to your industry or to the general news agenda? If so, draft a press release with their quote and include a quote from your founder. You can also use the original content as a pitchable asset alongside your release, enhancing your earned media and shared media even further.

If you have the budgets in place you may want to consider how that content, particularly if its a video, can be leveraged within paid media, which could be traditional media or more digitally focused.

You may also want to consider social media advertising, how you leverage that content from a paid media perspective from your own social media platforms.

Of course, this is just one example with a single piece of content. Applying the PESO framework to your bigger PR strategy will take some careful consideration and mapping, and at this level, the overlap between each strand will become more obvious.

Next steps

Contact us to understand how you can apply the PESO model to your PR and marketing work. Drop us a line [email protected].