With the growing prominence of social media and the digitisation of data and information, the ways we engage and reach our target audiences seem to be in a constant state of flux. Today’s increasingly interconnected world has forced us, as public relations practitioners, to re-think and expand beyond the cookie cutter framework that we have seen in the past. No longer is PR just about publicity and media relations – it’s so much more.
Cue, the PESO model. Championed by marketing and public relations thought leader, Gini Dietrich, the PESO model highlights the evolution of the public relations discipline to reflect the ever-changing world of communication. It encompasses four different types of media - Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned, each obtaining distinct characteristics and forming equally important parts of the public relations puzzle.
Image source: Spin Sucks by Gini Dietrich
Paid Media: Any time you are paying someone to carry your promotional messages, you are engaging in paid media. While this traditionally conjures up images of big, fancy TVCs, billboards and print ads, in the changing media landscape, this now refers to social media advertising such as sponsored tweets and Facebook ads, email marketing, and sponsored content. While some stakeholder groups may be less inclined to trust paid media, it still provides value by allowing you to communicate your messages quickly, in a form that you can control.
Earned Media: Earned media is the most traditional aspect of public relations, which you probably know as publicity or media relations. This is when individual conversations and third party mentions of your organisation become the channel for your message. It’s about getting your organisation in print, having an industry publication write about you, or conducting interviews on the radio – all of which are earned through the relationships you have built with journalists, bloggers and other influencers over time. While third party mentions of your brand are considered more credible than those in paid or owned media, and are certainly an important part of any PR strategy, they are only one piece of the puzzle.
Shared Media: Shared media encompasses the social media platforms, online networks and technologies controlled by your stakeholders. Engaging in dialogue and relationship building, and crafting well-written, relevant and tailored content unlock significant opportunities for online audiences to amplify your brand messages and stories by liking, commenting on and sharing your posts. In a world where approximately 2.078 billion people are on social media, the potential for your network to grow is endless.
Owned Media: Owned media carry communication messages from an organisation to its target audience using channels that are either owned or commissioned by the business. These include assets that you create and can directly control, such as content on your website, blog, emails, eBook and webinars. Owned media can be powerful, however it is up to you to cultivate it so it can be of use to your target audiences.
Gone are the days when PR was only about media relations. In order to be successful, professionals must adapt to the times and change their way of thinking and doing. With the PESO model’s holistic viewpoint, what starts as a simple pitch can quickly emerge as a multifaceted communications campaign that reaches key audiences where they are consuming news, in a compelling, targeted and meaningful way.