We’re strong believers in the PESO model of marketing and PR. But what does that mean exactly?

PESO stands for Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. The acronym, developed by PR and social media expert Gini Dietrich, describes the framework for all of the available PR and marketing strategies that a brand can leverage… to reach and influence audiences.

Here’s a quick breakdown of the components that make up PESO:

  • Paid Media – Print and online ads, native content, sponsored blog posts and channel Enews.
  • Earned Media – Driven by what others say about a brand: reviews, testimonials and referrals.
  • Shared Media – Engagement within digital platforms… including social sites, video sharing and online forums.
  • Owned Media – Brand-created publishing, which may include content that lives on a website, direct mail, in a newsletter or on a blog.

While this model remains robust… the media landscape is changing. The separation lines between “paid” and “earned” media continues to blur.

Shakeups and Shake Downs

Of course, this evolution has been predictable… based on years of traditional advertising decline. 

As print ads have become less effective — and more expensive — brands have continued to seek other forms of lead generation and influence, such as social media and native advertising. These forms of modern-day marketing often can be difficult to distinguish (intentionally so, by the way) as they may involve creating content… that is designed to look like it was authored by a news organization or blogger.

What’s more, the rise of “pay-to-play” media has also contributed to obscuring the lines between paid and earned media. What is “Pay-to-play” media? It’s a type of advertising in which brands are charged — in a sponsorship posture — to have their content featured within a particular platform.

As a result, PR professionals have become even more resourceful in their pitching efforts. Leveraging new strategies. And deploying different tools. Finding innovative ways to make stories stand out from the crowd… aimed at convincing influencers that these narratives are worth promoting. At K&A, we’ve leveraged post-pandemic economic trends. Supply chain challenges. Even new colors and fashion cues to garner coverage for client products.

Here are a few ways to pitch ethically in a pay-to-play media landscape:

  • Be transparent. When pitching a story, be upfront about intentions. Build enduring rapport based on authenticity and transparency with journalists and influencers.
  • Create high-quality content. This means crafting well-researched — and well-written — stories that are of interest and highly relevant to each target audience.
  • Build relationships. Participate at industry events… reach out to journalists and influencers on social media, and offer to help them with their stories.
  • Be patient. Pitching stories to the media can feel like a marathon, rather than a sprint. Practice tolerance. Patience. And perseverance.
  • Be honest with brand leadership. Frame expectations for risks and benefits. There is no guarantee that a story will be picked up.
  • Disclose relationship posture. Inform influencers why the pitch is occurring. Its timing. And who is expected to benefit.
  • Respect editorial independence. The media has an obligation to maintain its editorial self-determination. So pressure or bribes are never a good idea.
  • Divulge payments. Is this in fact, a paid opportunity? Expectation for earned media? Sponsored post?
  • Follow the law. Pay-to-play media is not illegal; yet consider, all applicable regulations. For example, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has rules that govern how brands can leverage paid influence and in-kind sponsorships.

The separation between paid and earned media will continue to blur. This has made it more difficult for audiences to know when they are being exposed to advertising. And when they are consuming unbiased editorial content. By following some of the suggestions outlined above, building product brands can help to ensure that pitches are delivered as ethical and unbiased.

If you’d like to learn more about how PR can help your building product brand create impact and yield return-on-investment, send an e-mail to Steve at sk@kleberandassociates.com to get the conversation started.


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