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What is the PESO model? And how can it help your business?

What is the PESO model? And how can it help your business?

Let’s not sugarcoat it: marketing a brand can be difficult. With so many options available to you, knowing where your money is best spent feels impossible. Between social media, blogs, paid advertising, email marketing, PR, and so many more avenues to explore, it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Which is why it’s good to take a step back every once in a while. To hit pause, take stock of where your business is at, where you’d like it to go, and how you’d like to get there. This is where the PESO model comes in.


What is the PESO model?

The PESO model is a framework that integrates the four main channels of media – paid, earned, shared, and owned. No matter the nature of your business, these four channels will be at your disposal in some capacity.

Although it originated in PR, the framework is a brilliant way to organise and benchmark all of your marketing efforts. Looking through any one of the four lenses, you can identify where your resources are currently going. As well as what results are being achieved and where else you could look.

The PESO model is also a welcome reminder that your individual marketing efforts don’t exist in isolation. Everything connects. By taking this approach, you can find a long-term strategy that sticks. It’ll ensure that any piece of content you produce works harder. That every decision you make and every penny spent brings you closer to your goals – building trust, credibility, and authority along the way.

Let’s run through the four channels and some of the main pros and cons of each.


Paid media

Paid media is exactly what it says on the tin. It’s when you pay for content distribution. Think Google and social media ads, paid email campaigns, influencer campaigns, or ads in newspapers or magazines.  

Paid advertising is great if you want quick, reliable, and scalable results. To increase your reach, there’s always the option to pay more. And you know that if you’re paying for ads, they’re going to be seen by the right people, assuming you know who you’re aiming for.

But paid advertising is also the least credible of the bunch. Because, well, you paid for it. And your audiences will know that too. In 2021, only 18% of UK consumers trusted advertising on websites. And even less – 10% – trusted ads on social media. Consumers are more sceptical about paid advertising. And this could impact your returns on investment.

Also, paid media only works for as long as you’re investing in it. So as soon as you stop paying, your distribution and momentum will stop.


Earned media

Earned media is any organic publicity your brand receives. This might be media coverage, guest blog posts, appearing on a podcast, organic influencer reviews, online reviews, or good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. The premise is that you’ve traded your value – be it your product, knowledge, or experience – in exchange for someone else’s audience. 

Unlike paid media, there’s no guarantees here. You can’t be sure an influencer will share a snap of your beautiful latte art to their Instagram feed or that your latest news will actually be published. It’s also not a scalable form of media. Just because your business grows and you put more money into PR campaigns doesn’t mean your earned media results will increase.

However, there are benefits to including earned media in your marketing strategy. First of all, it’s more credible. Earned media is your brand being vouched for by a third-party. And it’s done completely authentically. In this way, it instantly generates trust and authority. It can also bring long-term benefits thanks to SEO. Past PR mentions will continue to rank and improve brand awareness.


Shared media

Shared media is any content you produce for third-party platforms. It harnesses the power of social media and user-generated distribution.

Let’s say you share your latest blog on your company’s Instagram feed. Other brands, thought-leaders, or individuals can then share, like, or comment on your content, turning it into a shared interaction. And it’s the same with any partnerships, promotion, or distribution you do on social platforms. There’s a lot of overlap between shared and earned media. So a customer posting your product on social media with an impromptu review would count as both. 

Shared media encourages large amounts of trust. Hearing a product is great from the brand itself is one thing. Hearing a random person just like us raving about a product makes us far more likely to listen. It’s also a cheaper way to build authority and awareness. Your shared media results are dependent on the quality of your product, service, or content, not on your budgets.

The cons of shared media are similar to earned media. You can’t predict or guarantee when or if someone will share your content. And, as it’s dependent on the quality of content, publishing more doesn’t mean your results will increase accordingly.


Owned media

What you’re reading right now is an example of owned media. The team here at Coster Content created it and it exists on our own website – meaning we have complete control. Other than blogs, owned media can include your website itself, podcasts, videos, ebooks, or whitepapers. 

This type presents fewer risks than the others. You don’t have to play by the rules of another platform and aren’t vulnerable to policy changes or a platform shutting down altogether. It’s also a long-term asset. As long as your content is valuable, you can continue to attract new readers.

The downside of owned media is that it’s not very independent. Ideally, you need an audience to build traction and see results. And building this audience independent of paid, earned, or shared media can take you a very long time.


Which is the best option?

There are reasons for and against all media types. But as we mentioned at the beginning, everything you do connects. And to see the best results, you’ll want a combination of each. It isn’t as simple as ‘one over the others’. That requires a great deal of planning to guarantee you’re taking the right approach. 

Create high-quality content on your website, distribute it on social channels, pay for further exposure through ads, and reap the benefits of earned exposure. This is how you can ensure long-term, sustainable marketing success. A typical trajectory will see you moving from owned media, to shared, earned, and then paid. 

The PESO model is a valuable way to benchmark and broaden your marketing efforts. If you ever feel like your efforts are falling short, or that you’re not seeing the desired return on investment, there are plenty more avenues just waiting to be explored.

Stuck in a rut with your marketing? Coster Content is here to help. Join us for a discovery day where we’ll unpick your business and identify gaps in your content and communication. From here, we’ll improve your team’s written communication through training or take over your content needs entirely. To find out more, contact us on 0161 413 8418.