The PESO model for marketing communications was pioneered and popularized by Gini Dietrich in her book, Spin Sucks, and has been widely adopted by the marketing community ever since. At its most basic, it’s an integrated approach to managing communications efforts which brings together the four types of media – paid, earned, social and owned.

The model itself is quite a simple idea but it’s also a powerful and memorable one – which is probably why we marketers and communications professionals like it.

It provides a blueprint for projecting key sales and marketing messages and establishing a brand across the different channels available to digital marketers. Each media type does something different, but when combined, the model is a simple way to see the overall picture and judge the quality of your communication efforts.

Pay to play – a world of choice
The modern digital marketer has a whole host of options when it comes to handing over their media budget to drive brand awareness. The traditional TV, billboard, radio and big-budget print ads are all part of paid media, but so are sponsored social posts on Twitter, promoted videos on Facebook and lead-gen activities on LinkedIn.

Advertorial and sponsored content – which sits on the overlap between owned and paid – is also an option. But, do bear in mind two things. Your audience is very aware of the difference between editorial and advertorial, and the trustworthiness of information is more important than ever. One recent study showed 97% of respondents are placing a higher emphasis on the trustworthiness of the source – up from 78% in 2018.

Get out there and earn it
When people think of PR or media relations, earned media is usually what they are thinking about, getting a company featured on the news or in print – and preferably for the right reasons!

For B2B marketing practitioners, the earned element of the model is indispensable. Trust and credibility lie at the heart of success for B2B sales and none of the other three media types comes close to earned media at winning these.

The third-party endorsement from having your business or key executives contribute valuable news, opinions and thought leadership to leading business, tech or industry media provides authority which is hard to replicate any other way. When these media outlets are read by the right audience, it also provides cost-effective reach to a very targeted group of prospects.

One of the downsides we often hear is that earned media is unpredictable in terms of gaining coverage, which can be true when the execution is off the mark. But if you have the right stories to tell and content to share, all you then need is the right process to follow.

We all ‘do’ social, right? But are we all doing social right?
When we look at social as part of the PESO model, some of the things we should be sharing, saying and creating become a little clearer – the key here are the words ‘integrated model’.

Written a blog for your owned content drive? Share it! Get it placed in the media then share the clip! If you create a product demo video for your website, host it on a social platform too. In B2B if you want people to interact with your brand you need to offer valuable content in a humanized way. But you also need to deliver it over the platforms your audience use.

Pick the right platforms to focus on and you have a great delivery mechanism for sharing company news, interesting third-party stories and a way for company execs to join a lively industry conversation. Because social media is 24/7 it’s easy to go off-piste and lose sight of what you’re sharing and why. Looked at as part of the integrated whole it’s easier to see what to share to stay ‘on-message’.

One of the great things about social media is its low barrier to entry, just remember the barrier to success is ensuring you share quality content in a way people want to consume it.

If you want to win it, you gotta own it!
Owned media are the channels you control. It could be a regular blog focused on industry insight to drive traffic and up your SEO, it could be customer stories to showcase success or gated content as part of your lead generation.

You can choose what you publish, when you publish and how often you publish and there are lots of options – editorial, infographics, videos, newsletters. The list is pretty long, and each content type should be aimed at customers at specific points along the customer journey.

As with earned and social, the key to meeting your marketing objectives is to provide valuable content. Owned content should answer your audience’s questions, help them solve their problems, and address the pain points they are struggling with and the challenges they face. Understanding the customer before you start creating content is a must.

SEO and optimizing content to make it as ‘findable’ as possible is obviously a big part of this. One thing to note is that earned media can play right back into this too – boosting your off-page SEO with some very high authority domains linking to the most important content on your website.

Stronger together
In B2B, your paid ads and social posts might grab the attention of a decision maker, but on their own are they enough to make them commit to a major purchase? Unlikely. But when a communications strategy also includes earned media to build credibility and owned media to demonstrate and showcase value to the decision maker, you are in a much stronger position to help the customer along their journey and drive to a conversion – it all comes down to the quality of your content.

Tying owned and earned together can be a particularly effective and efficient way to use and disseminate content and can be managed fairly easily when developing a content strategy. If you want to know how to make your owned and earned media work in unison take a quick look at our latest guide.

By Sam Harris, PR Executive at IBA International.

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