Arlen Pettitt

Author - Arlen Pettitt

Using the PESO (paid, earned, shared, owned) model to maximise your digital strategy

Steve Cole, Founder and MD at Colehouse

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Traditional PR and marketing tactics have entered into a seismic shift over the past ten years thanks to the evolving digital landscape that has consumed life as we know it.

Those within the marketing and communications industry are no longer relying on just the traditional methods such as print journalism or broadcast appearances to convey a brand’s story or message. However, in today’s hyperconnected world, a digital marketing strategy isn’t just about Facebook ads and Instagram posts, (they will only get you so far) it’s about harnessing the power of the PESO model.

The PESO model is a digital marketing and communications framework covering paid, earned, shared and owned media. Before the early 2000s media channels used to be thought of in siloed ways, paid media’s primary focus was advertising and earned media was the primary focus of PR.

So why is the PESO model so useful when it comes to segmenting your marketing strategy and maximising your brand power?

In a nutshell, you have your original content which is owned by you or your company and you will then use social platforms to share and distribute the content. Once you have completed these two steps you may want to use paid media to amplify your message and then earned media to reinforce the story.

Let’s look at the four areas in more detail and the simple steps that you can take to start adding value to your content.

Paid media

Paid media requires the brand or business to pay for the opportunity to advertise their product or service on a variety of different platforms. The channels can be via social media, TV, radio or via print and online methods. More specifically, paid media will almost always involve the exchanging of money and a third party. Paying for your media rights means that you are purchasing a ‘space’ to reach a specific audience that has grown and developed as the result of someone else on a platform that’s not yours, e.g. ITV Tyne Tees.

Tips for paid media:

  • Identify your target audience and be specific. Just because a national newspaper is offering you a good deal on advertising space does not mean that this is a good deal for you and your business
  • Set pricing does not occur in this industry, work with your contact and negotiate pricing and cost
  • Nail down your messaging. Don’t waste the opportunity as when paid media works well, it can help to solidify your reputation and convert to sales

Earned media

Earned media is the bread and butter of traditional PR. This is the conventional method that requires you to cultivate relationships with journalists who write about your subject area.

However, more recently this has evolved into establishing relationships with influencers, bloggers and thought leaders who may write about or in partnership with your business or brand, creating original content.

Tips for earned media:

  • Research bloggers and key thought leaders that are talking about the subjects you want to be writing about
  • Identify your early adopters and influencers that create a demand for your customers’ buying decisions. Social media, print and digital platforms to carry out this research are all good places to start
  • Publish content that displays your business or brands worthiness – good customer reviews and case studies will always help to establish trust

Shared media

Shared media guidelines and best practices are constantly evolving as social media algorithms adapt and become more sophisticated over time. Shared media has two key parts to it. Firstly, it’s about creating content and getting it out there, but secondly, it’s also about the exchange and interaction that you, as a business, have with your audience.

Tips for shared media:

  • Stay current. Use hashtags that are trending or relate to a national day or recent news event
  • Publish accurate and relatable content for your audience that will encourage them to interact and keep the conversation going
  • Make your content humanistic. People buy from people, not straight-talking corporate messaging
  • Understand you’re constantly working with an algorithm – on average a post on a business Facebook page will reach less than 5% of your audience (using paid here helps distribute key messaging and campaigns) so budget accordingly.

Owned media

Owned media covers everything that your business or brand has complete control over. This covers a wide range of assets such as your website, blog, videos, infographics, original content and research papers. Most importantly, it is these assets that help fuel the other three parts of the PESO model and they’re all equally as important in building a successful marketing strategy. Owned media is the marketing strategy cornerstone of any business and it is the most direct way that potential customers come in contact with your brand.

Tips for owned media:

  • Ensure that you are repurposing your owned media in more than one way to maximise reach. The right press release can be repurposed into a blog, which can be repurposed into an infographic, a webinar topic and a social media post
  • Authenticity – be authentic with your owned media. Creating and maximising on your brand personality will help to create genuine engagement with your customers
  • Involve your audience. Ask them questions and their opinions on new products, or areas of interest. This will help to keep content ideas flowing for you as a business and also create a genuine and open conversation around your brand and business.
  • 1st party data (your email lists, user and sales records etc) are by far the most important things as we enter a world where third party cookies are limited and tracking is being removed from apps and websites – make sure you do everything you can to increase the amount of first party data you collect for future use in campaigns – make it easy for people to sign up to a mailing list for example.

For businesses and brands that are trying to maximise their brand communications and marketing strategy, using the PESO model as a framework will help to transform businesses reputations with forward-thinking, integrated marketing plans.

The modern evolution of media technology has allowed companies to connect with their audiences in many different ways, providing opportunities to communicate messages robustly and correctly.

Mapping the various channels mentioned above in the PESO model against your business activities over a timeline, including ‘always on’ and campaign activations will ensure your team knows how everything connects. This will ultimately help you be able to measure success and allocate budget accordingly more easily.

Steve Cole, Founder and MD of Colehouse



Photo by Oleg Laptev on Unsplash

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