Following the PESO Model is Keeping PR Alive and Well
If you’re in the public relations industry, chances are you’ve heard some form of the phrase: “media relations is dead.” It seems like everyone in the PR industry is talking about it, writing about it, or a combination of both. And while I think “dead” is a little extreme, I do agree that there is some truth to that statement. Media relations, once the lion’s share of PR agencies’ work, is now just one of the many services PR agencies are expected to deliver – so perhaps, it would be more accurate to say media relations-only agencies are dead, or at least no longer viable.
We’ve long since adapted to the notion that earned media alone isn’t sufficient. At REQ, we utilize the PESO model, and offer a range of services in the Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media space (stick with me here, this is not a blog post where I shamelessly promote the PR firm I work for). Gini Dietrich, leading voice in the PR world and creator of the PESO model, first introduced this framework because she recognized that the PR industry would become irrelevant if we didn’t evolve. I believe her exact words were, “If you aren’t using the PESO model for your communications work, and measuring the meaningful metrics that help an organization grow, you will not have a job in 10 years.” That was back in 2014. How has PR’s view of the PESO model changed in the past 4 years?
Paid media (or sponsored editorial content) continues to evolve. Before, anything “paid” fell in the advertising camp, and anything “earned” belonged to PR…until paid social media and sponsored content came to fruition. Native advertising has found a natural progression in PR. We create great content for our clients and seek ways to get that content out there, even if it means paying for the placement, which can often be just as effective as Earned media. This is an example of marketing/advertising and public relations becoming more aligned.
As for Earned media – many of the same principles Dietrich introduced in 2014 still hold true. Earned media, what used to be the core of PR, continues to decline as the ratio of journalists to PR professionals continues to shrink. This decline doesn’t mean media relations is dead, but it does mean that establishing relationships with the reporters that are still out there has never been more critical. Of course, establishing good relationships can lead to some great coverage, but it can also benefit reporters. They get a good resource that they can turn to, time and again, and furnishing their publication with quality content can drive website visits and pageviews.
Shared media is an area where PR professionals have really stepped up and made great strides over these past few years. Social media services are no longer a luxury but an expectation that clients have for PR agencies. We’re constantly testing out new tools, devising new strategies and sharing new ideas as to how we can better our client’s social presence. Our biggest challenge, in my opinion, is figuring out how to show the value of a social program – tying social metrics (likes, shares, retweets) to the client’s big-picture goals (lead generation, brand awareness, etc..).
In my opinion, the principles behind Owned media have changed the least out of all components in the PESO model. All roads still lead to Owned media, which is why you must ensure your owned content is stellar. Owned media is the content you’re in full control of – it’s the blog posts, white papers, case studies etc… This content is considered “owned” because it lives on your website, blog pages, or social media accounts – basically any platform you are in control of. Thus, all of your Paid, Earned and Shared media efforts are rendered useless if you cannot deliver unique, intelligent content to the audiences you’ve been working so hard to target.
The PESO model is not a plug-and-play, one-size-fits-all strategy. That is why we always match our PESO efforts to our clients’ unique goals. Those efforts are keeping PR very much alive and kicking.