The What, Why and How of the PESO Model

The PESO model is a media framework that seeks to unify the creation of content for marketing and communications by categorising content into four segments: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned.

The idea of adapting ways of creating content came about in an attempt to steer the marketing industry away from seeing media channels as siloed. For decades paid media content was created for the sole purpose of advertising, earned media content was reserved especially for PR purposes, and shared and owned content didn’t get a look in because in the minds of marketers, they didn’t really exist.

Such a siloed way of looking at things led to different agencies - and even departments - failing to integrate comms and media correctly, which led to campaigns failing to reach their maximum potential as they didn’t bounce off each others’ momentum.

Hence, the introduction of the PESO model: A way to make everyone sing from the same hymn sheet by unifying which content is created, for what purpose, for what platform, and why.

Branding, design, marketing and content are very close relatives, all who play and feed off each other and need each other to be effective - through creating the brand or assets in the first place, to defining what makes the brand interesting through its value proposition, then effective marketing to make sure that a high number of the right kind of consumers actually get to interact with the brand in the best way.

For this reason, we are sharing this blog post which zooms in on some level of detail around the marketing channels available. The brand, designs and content you’re generating deserve to meet their audiences … enjoy our guide to the PESO model.

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What is the PESO Model?

Simply put, the PESO model is a strategy that looks to integrate together content produced across paid, earned, shared and owned channels.

The idea is that if content is produced in unification - that is, if one bit of content on one platform aligns with content on another - the brand will extend its reach and establish itself as an authoritative voice in its industry because it has produced a cohesive marketing campaign across different touchpoints, not in isolation.

Defining the PESO Channels

The PESO model encompasses the four main routes that brands use to communicate with their consumers. These channels are:

Paid Media

Paid media is your best option for hyper tight targeting and controlling who sees your content and how often. It's how you'll get the content that you want seen among the saturated online landscape - by putting it right in front of their faces or scrolling thumbs!

Paid Media has quickly become one of a marketer’s most valuable tools to successfully reach potential customers, due largely to its ability to target advertising campaigns on specific audiences with greater accuracy than other forms, such as print ads or billboard advertisements.

Paid media channels include; banners (text-based banner adverts), pay per click search engine marketing, digital display ads(banner/image advert) and native advertising (paid placement which looks like editorial) and your ads link to your other forms of media: Either shared, owned or earned.

These exist for example on both search engines like google and their partner sites, as well as across social platforms like facebook and LinkedIn.

When it comes to Facebook Ads, there are different ad formats worth trying. If your goal is to generate leads on Facebook, then consider utilizing the "Lead Generation" ad objective and using suitable ads with offers or lead magnets.

Earned Media

Earned media used to refer solely to PR pitches sent to journalists who would then decide whether or not to feature the brand in an article or story published either in print or online.

Nowadays PR and marketing pros aren’t just pitching journalists and submitting HARO queries; they’re pitching bloggers and social media influencers with large followings who trust the influencers’ recommendations The lines between online PR and influencer marketing have become very blurred, but the aim is always the same; to create buzz and awareness. Keep an eye out for niche relevant distribution services as well, for example, if you work in Crytpo you could look at something like a a crypto PR distribution service to help you quickly get infront of the right people.

They're also prospecting editors of identified, relevant websites about including a backlink in existing articles, or posting pieces of content on their site in return for a link back to their website.

This strategy - known as guest posting a white hat link building strategy - benefits both you (by boosting credibility) AND Google (by perceiving you as a trusted source).

So to this extent, the purpose of earned media is to build relationships and to build your profile. You can also work with niche specialists, for example, if you are a SaaS business and unsure how to get started with guest posting, consider outsourcing your link building to a reliable SaaS link building agency that can leverage their expertise and industry connections to create a targeted guest posting strategy for your SaaS business.

Shared Media

Shared media is the sibling of owned media, as it's created by you and shared on your website or social media platforms. The trick to getting it right across shared media is by understanding how each social platform consumes different content. This then helps dictate what type of owned media is created for them.

Understanding these nuances  on platforms and which segments from your audience are active on that particular site can be helpful when creating shareable content for said sites; however, not every piece needs to resonate with everyone or even a majority--sometimes only 10% audience participation might provide enough shares to yield results like increased awareness.

On social media, your owned, earned and paid media all have the potential to turn into shared media if your audience finds the content relevant and worth sharing with others.

Owned Media

Owned media is the content your business owns and places on its own channels. It’s created specifically by your brand and published to owned channels like blogs, podcasts or eBooks. All of these assets are important because they offer a foundation for all paid earned and shared campaigns you might launch in future - without them, it would be impossible to tell any story or share any message with potential customers.

Owned media is the most common way that your customers will first communicate with you (copy and creative assets are all considered owned media) which also makes it the most vital component of the PESO model - especially considering your owned media can also be distributed across all your other media channels.

How do you utilise  a PESO model?

Now we’ve defined the channel opportunities, it’s time to learn how to integrate them to achieve marketing communication harmony.

Paid Media

You can use your paid media channels to promote your earned, owned or shared media content. Say for example you’ve created a blog post which is getting a lot of hits and a fair bit of engagement. You could take that promotion one step further by including it as an asset in a paid media campaign, and then tailoring the audience to push it right under the noses of the people you most want it to reach.

After all, you already know it’s doing well because you can see it’s gaining interest - so it stands a much better chance of also resonating with an audience you’ve pre-selected for a paid campaign - sure it costs money but you know there is an interest already so the investment will be well spent.

Remember paid media can include pay per click campaigns as well as sponsored content, native advertising, or display advertising.

Earned Media

As we defined earlier, earned media is very much about building relationships. So in this part of your PESO model, it’s time to identify who you most want to build relationships with. Most likely this will include popular industry bloggers or journalists, as well as influencers who may share your owned content. What specific niche might you want to be most visible in?

To find your ideal collaborators, you can get organised:

  • Add bloggers and journalists you want to work with to specific lists on your Twitter account.
  • Collate a list of books, blogs or podcasts you want to review and then publicise this list or create reviews. Authors, agencies and podcasters may be grateful of your traffic and may be willing to repay the favour.
  • Create tags on Linkedin that are specific to your targets, like “blogger” or “journalist”. You’ll then be able to follow what they post and share it instantly, which may spark a relationship through your engagement.
  • Create lists of bloggers to watch using Hootsuite or Pocket. Once the blogger has published something relevant, share it across your networks.

The idea of doing this is to specifically build a network of like minded bloggers, influencers, producers and agencies that you have good relationships with. Eventually these figures are likely to share your content, giving you free traffic and maximising your reach.

Shared Media

Shared media is where you can promote your earned and owned content, but keep in mind that your goal here is engagement.

To maximise this, you can use guidance such as:

  • On Twitter, tweet the link to your published content throughout the day. This will drive shares and engagement, but do make sure you change the wording of the tweet each time.
  • On Facebook, try to post organic content daily alongside running a paid media campaign to build momentum. This will increase the chances that you will receive Facebook leads.
  • On Instagram, which has 2.3 billion active users, make sure to utilise the collections and stories feature to create bite sized guides or pieces of content that your audience can refer to. This is a great way to generate interaction with longform content because you can pull particularly shareable sections from the content.
  • On LinkedIn, post daily across all of your accounts. This includes your personal account, company page, and any groups.
  • For all other socials, such as Pinterest and TikTok, try to post daily if you think there is content that has the potential to be well received. For example, graphics do particularly well on Pinterest so if you’ve just produced a new infographic it could help you to generate clicks.

Owned Media

Finally, your owned media is your own content, and it’s the foundation to success for all of the above channels.

Owned media is specifically yours and must stay that way. For example, don’t create a whitepaper specifically for Linkedin as if the site is ever disbanded, your content will be too. Instead produce the whitepaper for your blog as its primary destination, and then distribute it to your social channels from that place.

With your owned media, you are completely free. You can answer customer questions, you can prospect clients, you can engage audiences, reward loyalists and even tease competitors.  As for prospecting clients, make sure to use the right social media channel. For example, you can use LinkedIn for prospecting, as it is a professional platform where you can find and easily reach out to targets who might be interested in your products or services.

Just make sure you repurpose content into smaller pieces and then distribute it far and wide across your three other media channels - this is after all at the heart of your integration strategy because it makes it seem as though you are everywhere, answering everything, all at the same time!

What to measure when using the PESO model

It wouldn’t be a strategy if it didn’t come with measurable metrics, so here’s what to look out for when setting and evaluating the success of your PESO model.

Paid Media

Your paid media metrics will depend on what you’re using - for example whether display ads or pay per click campaigns - but measurables might include:

  • How many clicks you’re generating from PPC campaigns across Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, or Twitter ads and boosted content.
  • How many people are then clicking through your campaigns to your landing pages
  • How many people are downloading free content or filling in forms to be captured by  your email marketing database.
  • An ultimate increase in the number of prospective leads in your marketing database.
  • An increase in the amount of new followers or fans who have been reading and engaging with your sponsored content.
  • Increase in conversions.

Earned Media

Earned media will give you results from your own network of relationships, so measurables should be slightly easier to identify. Metrics could look like:

  • How much traffic is being driven from your influencer campaigns. If an influencer with say 100,000+ followers is generating the same amount of traffic as an influencer with 1,000 followers it may be that the smaller influencers followers are more active, and therefore engaged, whilst the larger follower can only hope to convert one percent.
  • How much web traffic is being driven from stories about your brand through news outlets and other bloggers. This can be tracked with specific UTM codes.
  • An increase in new audiences and their engagement with the content
  • An increase in new email subscribers.
  • An increase in your domain ranking.

Shared Media

Shared media is all about engagement metrics, and considering that each platform has these built into their reporting, they’re easy to follow. Every metric should mostly point up, but if you start noticing decreases in followers and clicks, this is a cause for concern and may mean that your audience has changed, or your content is no longer as relevant to them.

Evaluate your metrics by:

  • Tracking the effectiveness of brand ambassadors or influencers - monitor things like reach and views.
  • Assign time specific points to things such as likes, retweets, shares, and comments. I.e: Achieve X retweets by Y day from Z day. This will give you visual data on the success of a campaign.
  • Use UTM codes (unique URLs) and other unique identifiers in social media campaigns so that you can monitor where people are seeing your content and clicking through from.

Owned Media

Owned media metrics will integrate with the other three media channels. For example, you’ll know if a blog is doing well by the amount of click throughs it generates across a paid and shared campaign.

However there are still measurables to monitor like:

  • Evaluating unique visitors, the time they’re spending on the site and your websites overall bounce rate. Increases and decreases can easily point to success or failure of a certain campaign.
  • The amount of downloads or shares of a paid media asset, or the amount of time an asset such as a video has been watched or shared.
  • The amount of shares a piece of content is receiving, especially across social channels and even on your own blog.
  • Community effectiveness, such as a rise in the amount of people that are liking, commenting or interacting with your content.

To conclude

The PESO model unifies how content is used and distributed for more successful marketing campaigns. Using a unified content method like the PESO model means brands can benefit from better reach, enhanced brand perception and position themselves as a voice of authority in their industry by gaining increased momentum and volume across content assets, worked together rather than in isolation.