Alexander Storozhuk is the founder of PRNEWS.IO, an Ad-tech & PR platform for SMBs around the world.

Some strategies prove their effectiveness across diverse industries. This is true of the PESO Model, which integrates paid, earned, shared and owned media to create powerful campaigns. Now, 10 years after Gini Dietrich introduced the concept in her book Spin Sucks, the model continues to be a foundational framework for communication professionals. As an entrepreneur, I have successfully implemented the PESO model over the years, leveraging its integrated approach to achieve significant results and enhance our communication strategies.

Let’s explore the PESO model’s components and how each aspect contributes to a harmonized strategy. Whether you’re a PR professional, marketer or emerging entrepreneur, understanding the PESO model can open new avenues for promoting your brand and connecting with your audience.

Understanding The Four Components Of PESO

1. Paid Media

Paid media refers to sponsored content like social media ads, influencers and sponsored articles in publications to increase brand awareness. Paid media helps ensure the content reaches the intended audience, driving traffic to your website and attracting new visitors. It can offer enhanced exposure and scalability, allowing brands to reach users across different platforms and geographies.

2. Earned Media

When customers and partners trust your brand, you often get media and PR coverage from them without spending a cent. This is referred to as earned media, or user-generated content (UGC). You achieve that trust by consistently offering quality and reliable services. Since it’s organic, earned media is powerful and can make your brand well-known.

3. Shared Media

Shared or social media is a popular communication strategy. Social media platforms are the go-to here, where shares and mentions measure any post’s success. With a strong presence on platforms like Instagram, TikTok and X (formerly Twitter), your company can reach new audience members and go viral if a post resonates with your community. Using shared media can help you build a community of customers who benefit from your brand.

4. Owned Media

Your owned media library consists of native communication channels like websites, blogs and email newsletters. With them, you create and distribute the content yourself. One advantage of this aspect of the PESO model is that you’re in control of showcasing your opinions and expertise in your field. If your communications are targeted and efficient, you can establish your media channels as a trusted resource in your industry.

The Benefits Of Integrating Across PESO Channels

While focusing on a single PESO channel can be tempting, I’ve found that integrating all four yields the best results and offers the most benefits, including improved brand visibility, amplified messaging and enhanced measurement and ROI. Here’s how:

Paid media helps expand audience reach through promotions, sponsored content and influencer collaborations, while earned media builds authority, as people trust information from reputable sources. This, in turn, enhances the credibility of your paid ads and drives traffic to your owned media. Once people learn more about your company, products and vision, they will likely visit your shared media, increasing engagement and organic reach for your strategies.

The model ensures consistent messaging across channels, making your campaigns more memorable and impactful by reinforcing the same message from different sources. Using multiple channels under a single measurement framework also helps you assess campaign effectiveness, identify areas for improvement and optimize strategies for better return on investment (ROI). In short, integrating multiple PESO channels leverages their individual strengths, creating synergy and maximizing the impact of PR strategies.

How To Implement PESO Strategies

Getting started with the PESO technique doesn’t have to be challenging. You can set the ball rolling in three steps:

1. Align internal teams.

Different departments of your company will play a role in implementing the PESO model. For instance, you’ll need PR, marketing and social media teams. Therefore, it’s essential everyone aligns and recognizes the central goal. This will ensure your messages are consistent regardless of the channel.

2. Recognize quality content.

Content is always king. Whether paid, owned or shared, you’ll primarily be crafting the media you put out. So create valuable content that your audience can identify with. This starts with recognizing what is quality content and what is substandard.

3. Track your analytics.

Finally, you must monitor the progress of your PESO model campaigns. You can leverage several tools for media monitoring, social media listening and PR analytics to help you optimize your campaigns for better results.

How Real Companies Use The PESO Model

The PESO model is so prevalent nowadays that it seems every company is using it—consciously or not. Spotify is a perfect example, effectively using paid, earned, shared and owned channels to market its services.

Spotify’s paid media efforts include extensive digital advertising and a high-profile sponsorship deal with FC Barcelona in 2022. For earned media, the platform’s transparency with statistics has garnered trust and frequent mentions from artists sharing their listener numbers and users posting their most-played songs, creating organic publicity. The company is also highly active on social media, engaging millions of followers with frequent posts. This activity encourages followers to share content, increasing visibility. To complete the PESO model, Spotify maintains a newsroom and community blog, regularly updated despite varying levels of user engagement. I believe these integrated efforts have helped Spotify become the world’s leading music streaming service (paywall).

Another example is Dove’s Reverse Selfie campaign, which leveraged extensive advertising on TV and social media (paid media) and garnered substantial press coverage (earned media). The campaign also thrived on social media (shared media), with Dove’s posts receiving higher engagement than usual—on Instagram, over 1,000 posts used the hashtag #NoDigitalDistortion. Finally, Dove’s website and YouTube channel (owned media) shared detailed campaign content and videos, further engaging their audience directly.

As a company, you probably already leverage PESO in some way. For instance, if you run ads or have active social media handles, you apply paid and shared media. The ultimate target is to combine these with earned and owned media for an integrated approach to your marketing efforts. Do this and I think you’ll find the results will speak for themselves.

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