The PESO Model: The Key to Successful Communication

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The PESO Model: The Key to Successful Communication

By Samantha Brooks on 31 March, 2021

Once upon a time, it was understood that Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations stood as separate entities – Paid media was the primary focus of advertising, Earned media was the primary focus of PR. But today, there is (and should be) little distinction between media types. Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media need to work cohesively for a successful communications strategy. Developing an appropriate plan for integrated communications is crucial to the success of your business. Enter, the PESO Model.


There are plenty of ways for a business to communicate its message to its audience, but none are more future-orientated than Gini Dietrich’s PESO model. In Dietrich’s own words, “if you aren’t using the PESO model for your communications work, and measuring the meaningful metrics that help an organisation grow, you will not have a job in 10 years.” 

The PESO model is a strategy that integrates the assets of paid, earned, shared and owned media, to allow a business to create and control its own story with a holistic approach to both public relations and marketing. The process comes down to businesses creating owned content that is useful to their audience … anything from a website to a whitepaper to a podcast. This content could then be the focus of a paid media campaign, which could lead to earned media benefits through social sharing and other online conversations. 

Owned Media  

Owned media is likely to be the first step in any communication strategy. It refers to all content and media channels that a business creates, owns and has control over. These assets serve as the building blocks for your paid, earned and shared media strategy. Owned media could include your website, email marketing, blogs, eBooks, and as mentioned above, a whitepaper or podcast.

Owned media provides control with little cost to a business (outside of the cost of creating content). The challenge is to create media that is specific to your audience, and to do this, you need to create an environment where a customer can find the answers to any potential questions they have – and where you can direct other forms of media for more content. If you can nail your owned content, you’re building the foundations to an effective integrated communications strategy.

Paid Media 

We’ve all been exposed to some form of paid media, whether we knew it or not. Paid media is where a business buys advertising space in a media format, whether that be a Google ad, Social Media ad, or one in the daily paper or local radio station. The message is placed in front of the audience in a traditional advertising format or more recently as a Native ad (one that blends in, rather than stands out). Generally, you’d find that your paid media leads back to your owned media – such as linking back to your website in Paid Facebook advertising. Paid media generally generates a fast result and allows for greater oversight from the business’ perspective. The only drawback? A pay-to-play model means results can be limited by your budget.

Shared Media 

Simply put, shared media refers to the content you own, that you share on a platform you don’t. Social media platforms essentially make up this component of the model. Each social platform has its own quirks and characteristics that require different content and campaigns (for example, Twitter’s 140 character limit). Understanding these platforms and their differences, and what segments of your audience are on them, will help inform the owned media you create. 

Shared media is all about building audience engagement. Social media platforms provide the perfect canvas to do this, with people seeing this form of interaction as more sincere and meaningful. Shared media does require a level of research and monitoring, but this is a minimal price to pay for the potential results. 

Earned Media 

Remember old-school word of mouth marketing? This is Earned media, but updated for the digital age. As the name suggests, earned media is based on reputation and is shared by a third-party. It could include more traditional press relationships like journalists (earned through merit), or a more modern relationship built with influencers and bloggers (earned through a good pitch). 

With large trustworthy audiences, influencers are targetable spokesmen who can increase your brand awareness. More and more brands have started pitching to influencers and others in the digital space, so it’s becoming increasingly difficult for yours to stand out in the crowd. Despite this, once the ball is rolling, credibility and brand awareness can expand exponentially. 

Why embrace the PESO Model? 

When working at its best, the PESO model will help you establish authority in your market. Having authority in a market leads to increased customer trust and loyalty as your brand becomes more and more established. 

Though PESO is all about practising a holistic marketing model, this doesn’t mean that every professional needs to be an expert in all areas – we still need copywriters, SEO guns, paid media specialists, social media managers, etc., to strengthen each PESO component. 

While each media asset is one on its own, they are also all complementary to each other. Therefore, to take advantage of all the market opportunities, it is essential to integrate each media type. This creates an integrated communications strategy that will extend your reach and establish your business as a leader in its respective market. 

*Extracted from Dietrich’s book Spin Sucks. 

If you need help creating an integrated communications strategy that’s right for your brand and your budget, we’re here to help! Get in touch today on 07 3198 4890 or contact us online.

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