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The PESO Model Delivers: What a Mix of Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media Can Do for You

Author: Curtis Sparrer
July 28, 2021

Gaining earned media placements can be difficult, largely because the available number of media placement opportunities is far outstripped by the number of companies seeking editorial coverage. With legitimate stories to tell – particularly in the areas of thought leadership, positioning and branding – we recommend that our clients examine the value of the PESO communications model.

PESO is the acronym for “paid,” “earned,” “shared,” and “owned” media. The PESO model helps companies meet communications goals, without relying 100% on earned media placement, by integrating the following elements as part of a communications repertoire:

  • Paid media – such as advertorials and sponsored content, social ads and paid, membership-based placements.
  • Earned media – no-cost coverage driven by media relations press releases, bylines, “newsjacking,” or investor relations, blogger outreach and backlinking, as well as word of mouth.
  • Shared media – curated, organic social coverage, stemming from bloggers, online review sites, forums, and other online sources.
  • Owned media – proprietary content marketing, including blog posts, brand journalism, webinars, podcasts, video, and visual content like infographics.

PESO is best used to elevate topics and messages – including thought leadership and branding efforts –that don’t fall under the umbrella of day-to-day PR, largely because regular ongoing PR activities are often focused on releasing news and gaining earned media in the form of news coverage and technology-focused contributed articles.

Gaining Value From PESO

Generating visibility and awareness using PESO can help illustrate the value of communications programs to key stakeholders. Many firms will use analytics like click-through rates, opt-ins, media equivalencies, and metrics such as share of voice to understand and showcase the value of each element in the PESO mix and to demonstrate the ROI of an integrated PESO program.

For paid media, page views, click-throughs and engagement can illustrate value, as can opt-ins or metrics around a specific call to action or campaign. Online analytics tools can also link users directly to paid campaigns, showing their impact on the funnel.

Demonstrating value from earned media can include advertising value equivalency (AVE), a calculation based on a publication’s advertising rates and the amount of coverage received. Though AVE has been called outdated by some, it is still useful as a baseline data point and therefore should not be totally discounted

Beyond AVE, a deeper understanding of earned media value can include messaging analysis for depth and tone, along with social media impact, including shares. Sophisticated software tools can also offer insights into the quantity and quality of coverage, and with unique identifiers like UTMs (Urchin Tracking Modules) attached to shareable coverage, earned media, as well as landing pages, can move trackable leads into the funnel.

Engagement with content and publicity also creates value with PESO. End user interactions with social posts and content create validation and credibility, and “likes” generate additional reach and impressions. Similarly, brand and content engagement across forums, user groups and review sites will enhance awareness, and monitoring such activity can generate useful data to be included in discussions of ROI.

The value of owned media is all about controlling message tone, timing and delivery. Owned media enables speaking in one’s own voice without a filter, and owned media channels are the perfect venue for deploying brand and thought leadership content. Owned media like thought leadership content can even help drive earned media, and social sharing and paid syndication can help amplify the benefits of owned media.

For communications pros, PESO is a thoroughly modern approach to awareness that means less reliance on earned media publicity. Holistic and flexible, PESO provides a realistic path to dealing with the problem of too many companies chasing a limited number of editorial opportunities. An optimized PESO mix will generate ongoing, cross-platform media awareness that extends the value and reach of existing programs, delivering real ROI.