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Paid Media Strategies — PR Worth Paying For

Paid Media Strategies — Breaking Down the ‘P’ in the PESO Model


When it comes to paid media strategies, a lot has changed in the world of PR and marketing. The technological revolution has brought us search engines, integrated digital campaigns and the IoT. But it’s also upended the way PR campaigns are conducted. We’ve discussed the PESO Model before and believe its ‘P,’ or paid media component provides a better way to do PR today.

Last week, we spoke with PESO Model creator and Founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, Gini Dietrich, about the future of PR, the PESO Model she created and how social media has changed PR.

Today, we’re diving deeper into the PESO Model with the logical place to start — the “P” or paid media activity. As Gini shares on her blog about the PESO Model, it categorizes media into four main buckets or types — paid, earned, shared and owned — and blends them together into one integrated perspective of PR.

Just to recap those types, here’s what we shared about them on the blog a few weeks back:

Paid Media.

Paid media is social media advertising, sponsored content and email marketing that you pay to place as part of your PR campaign.

Earned Media.

Earned media is what you think of as traditional PR; getting your information printed in newspapers, trade pubs, on the radio, as part of the local or national news broadcast.

Shared Media.

Think of this one as social media. It’s all the social channels (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.) you use to promote your brand to the public. The potential for content about your business to go viral on social media is huge; it’s not just you or your PR agency sharing information about your brand; others can get in on the action and massively expand your reach through social media.

Owned Media.

This is original content. Articles, blog posts, infographics, videos and other pieces you create to connect with your customers and move them through the sales funnel.


The real power of the PESO Model though comes in its ability to help you integrate campaign activities across the four types of media. In that way, ‘spheres’ may be a more helpful term than ‘buckets’ since, as the graphic below indicates, spheres can overlap without dumping their contents in an un-orderly mess all over the floor.



Image courtesy of Spin Sucks.


We love how this model helps us integrate, track and tweak campaign activities for our clients across the media types. But we also appreciate its ability to help us establish authority for our clients. Authority leads to leadership, which in turn can lead to the kind of first-page search results on Google that all brands covet.

As Gini shared last week about her model, the most attractive aspect of the PESO model is its flexibility. “The best part about the PESO model is that its fluid. So if owned media doesn’t work for you, you don’t have to use it for the model to be successful. The idea behind it is you have four media types that, when used together, create authority, build awareness, and generate qualified leads. You may lean more heavily on one or two of the media types, but don’t want to forget about the others.”

With that long introduction and recap made, let’s turn our attention to paid media strategies and activities and why you might want to incorporate them into your strategic communication or public relations campaigns.


Why Paid Media is a Necessary Part of PR Campaigns

Not that long ago, the advice across the Internet was for brands to create followings and generate awareness on social media organically. While that advice is still true, the new rule for PR in 2019 is that organic growth alone isn’t enough.

Every social platform is made profitable through advertising. Now that user levels have reached massive proportions, channels like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram expect you to pay to reach your ideal audiences. This new rule doesn’t mean you can’t grow organically, but if you want your message to be heard and your images to be seen, you have to pay.

Creative, relevant and engaging content is still important, but you need to boost that content with some paid media budget if you want your marketing messages to go viral. The PESO model understands that and helps you remember to incorporate it into your PR strategy. Just consider a few types of paid PR activities you could be using in your campaigns, all of which are examples of paid media:

  • Facebook sponsored posts and campaigns
  • Sponsored tweets
  • Twitter cards
  • Fan acquisition
  • Lead generation
  • Outbrain


LinkedIn is dipping its toes into the pay to play market with sponsored B2B ads. Its site even offers a 7-step process for generating leads on its platform. You can start your paid media strategy with as little as $5 per day and scale from there as you see what is performing well. Facebook and LinkedIn will throw free $50 credits toward businesses to incentivize them to begin advertising on their platforms. If you find one in your inbox, use it!

“Whenever we are conducting an integrated campaign for a client, we consider paid media as part of our strategy,” says Ann Pedersen, Strategic Communications Director for OBI Creative. “We let research guide our strategy and as a part of that strategy, implement the PESO model across the four media types in the manner that makes the most sense for our clients.”

Even if you don’t have an agency helping you with your paid media strategy, don’t wait to get in the game; start now by promoting one piece of content per month and grow from there as you see what your audience interacts with most.


How to Measure Your Paid Media Activities

When you’re spending cold hard cash to promote your content, being able to measure and evaluate your success suddenly becomes critically important. It’s one thing if you’re just creating content in a vacuum; it’s another when you start spending budget dollars to promote that content.

Depending on which paid media activities you choose, your ROI metrics could include any of the following:

  • AdWords leads
  • Visits, clicks and opens on your landing pages
  • New addresses/subscribers to your email list or blog
  • Qualified leads from your email marketing efforts
  • New fans or followers on your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn pages
  • A certain number of new leads or sales conversions on the products/services you are actively promoting through your paid activities


A critical component to keep in mind is to evaluate not just how many new followers or likes you are getting from your efforts, but who is following and liking your content. Are you getting influencers who can share your content with their circles? Metrics like these and others that you devise will help you know when your placements are worthwhile and when you need to pull out of a particular paid media activity and put it elsewhere.


How Your Paid Media Strategy Overlaps with Content You Create

The beauty of the PESO model is how each media type overlaps with the other. If you take another look at the graphic we shared, you’ll notice that paid media activities bleed into both earned and owned content. The latter may be more obvious as you can simply pay to promote pieces of content you’ve created, but you can also pay for content in the earned sphere through activities such as:

  • Affiliate programs where you pay bloggers and others to promote your products/services to their loyal audiences.
  • Brand ambassadors — similar to the above, you buy access to a blogger or other celebrity or influential individual’s audience. In so doing, you borrow their influence and pay to transfer the trust their audiences have in them to your brand and the products and services you offer.
  • Sponsored content — this can be less long-term than the above two tactics, where you pay to run content that you (or your influencer) creates on their platform in an effort to reach their audiences with your products/services.
  • Native advertising — pay for space through advertorials, product placements and the like in a way that doesn’t disrupt from the content around it and connects with the audience viewing it.


While more could certainly be said about all of these types of influencer activities, for now, it’s enough to see the connection between paid media and earned content and to put your ideal customer at the center of your efforts. Let what you learned about your customers during research inform your marketing strategy and paid media placement opportunities.



Tip: Use your customer personas to guide your paid media placements and keep your efforts on track.



It Doesn’t Matter Where You Start, Just That You Do

We could go on much longer about this topic, but we all need to get out there and actually do these things we’re talking about so we’ll leave you with this one last important note from Dietrich, which she shared with us last week: “The PESO model doesn’t necessarily start with paid media. We labeled it that way, simply because it’s easier to remember that acronym versus OESP or EOSP or any other combination. Start with what makes most sense to your business — and add the others in as they are applicable.”

In fact, Owned may be the best place for you to start since it deals with content that you own and therefore have complete control over. If you’re not ready to dive into PESO-guided PR campaigns just yet, hang in there. In the weeks ahead, we’ll continue to dive into each letter of the model to help you learn how to make this approach work for your brand.

Come back next week to learn how pay to play has become the new norm in the realms of social and SEO, and what you need to do to be seen online today.