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Agencies need the PESO model now more than ever

Perhaps now more than ever, communicators need to be adopting the PESO model to maximize results. PR agencies, in particular, should be looking at how to leverage the tools beyond traditional earned media since many journalists and news outlets have precious little time and space for non-virus content right now.

As the creator of the PESO model, Gini Dietrich understands its value and has a variety of tools and trainings available to help communicators take advantage of the approach. Chip and Gini discuss the importance of the PESO model and how agencies can better utilize it.



The following is a computer-generated transcript. Please listen to the audio to confirm accuracy.

CHIP: Hello and welcome to another episode of the Agency Leadership Podcast. I’m Chip Griffin.

GINI: And I’m Gini Dietrich.

CHIP: And we’re here today to talk about pesos because really Mexican money is what this podcast is all about. Hey, listen,

GINI: pesos by the PESO model. So

CHIP: Ah, that’s right. Actually, we are talking peso, all capitals today and that is how has the PESO model changed the agency world, particularly PR agencies and of course, we have nobody better to talk about it then the creator of the PESO model, my co host, Gini Dietrich.

GINI: Wow, that was, wow. Yes.

CHIP: So yeah. What is for those who have been living under a rock for the past? Whatever it is almost 10 years now. Right? Eight? Yeah, yes. Okay. What is the PESO model?

GINI: The PESO model is paid, earned, shared and owned media. And it’s taking those four media types and integrating them so that you can build a thorough both online and offline.

CHIP: And so this is it requires different thinking from particularly PR agencies, right? Who maybe 20 years ago were primarily Media Relations. You know, some influencer marketing, although wasn’t really called that back then events, that kind of thing. But now it’s really it for many agencies, they become a bit more of a hybrid model now. Right.

GINI: Yeah. And I mean, I think it’s for any communicator, not necessarily agencies, but um, yeah, it’s, it’s really looking at a couple of things. Number one, and I think a good catalyst for this is that it’s shown over and over and over again, that in every study on earth that executives value earned media the most, which makes sense because it’s third party credibility, right? At the same time, they want that to translate to sales. And it’s unfortunate that we can’t really translate that Sure, we can show an increase in website traffic and we can show that that way. Like traffic, maybe became email subscribers, and then we can follow them through that process. But that also requires that you have other things that requires that you have an email and that you have content and that you’re have promotion and distribution, and that you’re putting some money, some budget behind some paid stuff. So it requires those other things. You can’t just do earn media alone and translate that to sales. But that’s where we are is, you know, we see executive CPR, and I’m putting PR in quotes as Media Relations, but they expect it to translate to sales. So if we if we truly want to demonstrate that that work, and the work that we do does translate to sales, we have to have the other stuff in there. We have to have content, we have to have email marketing, we have to have paid social, we have to have social media, we have to have promotion and distribution. We have to have search engine optimization, we have to have all those things to be able to demonstrate that.

CHIP: And it’s I mean, it’s really helpful to agencies to have these additional tools in the toolbox, right because when we started out In PR You and I were very dependent upon third parties to see any results. Yes. And if that was, you know, the content we were creating was press releases and op eds that you had to get a journalist or editor to accept. And now with the PESO model, you’ve got some of these that are much more under your control, particularly the Oh the owned and to some degree, the the s the shared and, of course, the PMA. And for sure, so, you know, that, that gives agencies a lot more ability to have quick wins for clients to continue to show progress. And, and, frankly, to test things out, you know, before they have to be put before some third party arbiter in the form of an editor or journalist.

GINI: And I would even argue that in today’s world as the media landscape gets smaller and smaller that you have to have owned, to demonstrate to a journalist that you have thought leadership and that you have something to say that’s different than everybody else. And you have to have shared because they want to know that you’re going to be able to share their cup their content, if they’re featuring you and, you know, reach more eyeballs and bring new visitors to their websites as well. So you have to have those two things in order to I hate this term, but have a leg up on your competition. Um, especially when it comes to media relations. Mm hmm.

CHIP: So, I mean, did did agencies have to use the PESO model? And I know you’d like them to because you’re, you’re certainly an advocate and proponent. But is there? Is there still a place for specialist agencies who maybe do Media Relations exclusively or events exclusively? or things like that? Or do you really think that everybody in some shape or fashion needs to have peso as part of their offering?

GINI: The answer, of course, is it depends. You know, I talked to an agency owner yesterday, and he said 75% of what they do is Media Relations, but his biggest challenge is exactly that their clients want to them to demonstrate that all of that work that they’re doing all that publicity that they’re doing leads to sales. And he’s like, I can’t make that direct correlation with just publicity alone. He’s I can’t do it. And so we talked a little bit about what that looks like. So yeah, if you have clients that have, I have, I have a really good friend who does earn media for one big client, and they, and he only does our media because they have a Content Agency. They have a search engine marketing agency, they have an SEO agency, like they’re big enough to have all of the different agencies and then they bring it in internally. But if you have clients who are saying to you, I need you to translate this work to sales, and they’re not they’re either doing the other stuff internally or not doing it at all, it would behoove you to bring those skills in house or at least find contractors who can help you do some of that work.

CHIP: So the client then almost certainly needs to be using the PESO model, but the agencies can become specialists if they’re working within a framework of your house and other agencies that are meeting the need.

GINI: Yeah, I mean, absolutely, I’m not. I’m not naive enough to think that we’re all going to become journalists on the PESO model and that you have to understand how the whole thing works. And you have to be able to execute it yourself. For sure not. I’m also not naive to think that, you know, we’re not going to have to report into marketing or things like you know, it for things like this. I would love love it if we didn’t, but in some cases we do. So I think you have to have an understanding of how it all works, and how it works together. And I think you have to be really diligent about working with the other professionals or agencies, to make sure that the work that you’re doing is affecting growth the way it should, but I don’t necessarily think you have to do the work.

CHIP: But I think the other thing is if you’re if you’re going to be an agency that’s not using the full pace of model yourself, then you need to become you need to have a sharper focus with the work that you do and you need to become even more of a specialist in the areas that you are. So if you’re a media relations, not a media relations generalist, but for a specific industry or industries for a specific geographic market, something generally stands out. And so absolutely, you know, this is I’m so specialized that you can’t live without this piece of it.

GINI: Yep. Yeah. I totally agree. Yeah. Yeah. You’re not going to go to the hip doctor if your brain hurts, right.

CHIP: But probably not a good idea to do that. At least Probably not. Yeah. But we are not doctors, just like we’re not lawyers or accountants. So do not take this as medical advice.

GINI: Please do not. Although I would recommend you see a neurologist if your head hurts.

CHIP: So, you know, with the PESO model, how does that and we’ve talked previously on the show about the the challenge of defining yourself as a PR agency or a marketing agency or those sorts of things and those lines are all blurring but You know, with the PESO model, how do you avoid ending up becoming all things to all people? Because it’s it’s a fine line between using all the tools in your toolkit and being that full service agency that really effectively has no specialty at all.

GINI: You know, I mean, again, it depends. Um, but I mean, I can tell you how we do it. We don’t have every specialty in our in like, W two employees, we don’t, but I have found either partner agencies or contractors who have the specialties for the stuff that we don’t have. I mean, search engine marketing is one we don’t do any pay per click or Google ads or anything like that. I can do Facebook and Instagram and LinkedIn and Twitter, but I can’t do anything on YouTube. I haven’t figured out that piece, right. So I have I have found contractors to be able to do that. So when I look at a client’s marketing plan, and I look at what we need to do to be able to help them reach their business goals. We look to see okay, and you’re not going to use it all at once. I mean, Eric Schwartzman wrote what I think is one of the best articles from a startup perspective on how to use the PESO model. And he talks about, especially in a startup, you have to build content first you that’s that is the first thing you have to do. And it probably is going to take you 12 to 18 months, so you’re not going to have all the other stuff, or should you be planning for that other stuff? Absolutely. Should you know what it looks like and what the triggers are add, you know, shared and then earn and then paid? Yes. But it could very well be that it takes you you know, two years of building content before you start to promote and distribute it before you go into journalists before you start to put some paid dollars behind it. So it you know, it just depends on where the organization is where your clients organizations are, you know, I have a client that I serve as their chief marketing officer. We’re only doing content right now. That’s all we’re doing. So it just depends

CHIP: Yeah, I mean, I, I sort of see it as the ospi model in practice, but that doesn’t have quite the same ring.

GINI: It does not know people always say to me, PR people don’t do paid. Why do you start with that? And I’m like, because it’s easier to remember.

CHIP: It’s got a little bit of a ring to it. Yeah. ospi or some other combination.

GINI: Os doesn’t it doesn’t work

CHIP: well, and, and, and the worst, of course, would be p o se. So you know, we wouldn’t want to go there. So no. In any case, so alright, so if agencies should be doing this, you know, how, in the eight years that the PESO model is has been out there, how has it evolved? I know you’ve recently released a peso 2.0

GINI: you know, it’s funny, I keep I keep talking about this, especially around this this time, because we just launched the the 2.0 graphic is what I will say it’s, um, but when I did this, and I think I’ve told this story I talked to I talked about the process in spin sucks the book. And when I did it, the publisher came to me and she said, This is amazing. We need something to go along with it. Can you can you have a designer create a visual? And I was like, okay, so I gave him the chapter. And he created the PESO model graphic to go along with it. And all he did was list tactics. And so that’s what it was, right? I mean, it’s fader and shared unknown, and then it has the tactics that attached to it. That was it. And it went in the book. And then of course, everybody in their brother started using it. So as we looked at it, especially as as it’s evolved, we certainly took out things like Google Plus was in there, doesn’t exist anymore, right? And we took stuff out like that, but we made it a little more strategic instead of just a list of tactics. So we added in authority and credibility and reputation, we added in marketing communications and lead generation and promotion and distribution, search engine optimization, you know, those kinds of things that To help you build a brand versus just a list of tactics,

CHIP: when it’s clearly an idea that has caught on because lots of people reference the PESO model even without necessarily realizing that it’s yours Of course, in some cases, they do realize it’s yours and credit you but I don’t want to get you to one

GINI: another. Yeah, don’t get me all fired up right now.

CHIP: I did notice the in the new graphic, though you have your logo built into it in such a way that it’s almost impossible to excise it. So

GINI: yes, that is the lesson that we learned.

CHIP: And it is certainly unfortunate that people do that, you know, at the same time, it is a credit to you that you’ve created something that now is basically like q tip it’s you know, it’s it’s used almost generically. Yeah. And, and so, you know, I think that shows just how much this really has changed the world of communications to think about things in this really clear fashion. As, as you look at the future, you know, what, what does the future hold For agencies in the PESO model, how do you see it continuing to evolve?

GINI: Well, I think there’s a couple of things. Number one, it’s really it really is looking at how do you evolve your agency? And how do you bring in the talent that you have either from a W two or 1099 perspective to help? And how do you help evolve your clients organizations as well. At the same time, one of the things that we looked at and going back to the it’s become the Q tip of the PR industry. What we learned is that lots of people say that they use it and lots of people are presenting the graphic in some cases, they’re redesigning it as their own in new business presentations, which they can’t do, but they are but they don’t really understand how it works or how to implement it. So they may actually do earn and share it or they may do earned and owned but they don’t actually do they make they say that they do have an integrated model program, but they don’t. Um, so as we looked at that, and we started having conversations with Universities, we discovered that at the same time, students weren’t being taught an evolution of communications either. And so we have launched the PESO model online course, which teaches you how to effectively implement and integrate it. And it comes with a certification from Syracuse University. So it’s akin to going back to Syracuse nights and weekends and getting a certificate on top of your bachelor’s degree, not quite a master’s degree, but it’s pretty close. And so once you take the exam through Syracuse, you become certified and you can say, I am a certified PESO model, communicator and spend Sox in Syracuse have given me their stamp of approval.

CHIP: Well, I think that you know, having a structured way to learn the various aspects of the Pacer model can be helpful and obviously this is not designed to toot your horn, you can toot your own horn just fine. But, but but I think, but in all seriousness, you know, a lot of younger communicators Don’t have the exposure to a lot of these tools. And a lot of more senior communicators may be a specialist in one, but may not know about other aspects of it. So yeah, you know, I think it’s really important. However you educate yourself whether that’s through this new program or otherwise, it’s important to have at least a grounding in each aspect of the pestle model. Even if you are a media relations specialist focused on a particular geographic market, you still need to know about how it fits in Yes, with everything else.

GINI: Yes. And I think it’s really important to understand to use that example, if you’re a media relations specialist in Omaha or the Midwest, you have to understand how the work that you’re doing Fex the rest of it so that you can all demonstrate that this is leading to sales.

CHIP: Right. Right. And so, you know, as as you’ve seen the model implemented over the last eight years, you know, what do you think the biggest difference is from The client perspective of when they have agencies that are implanting the peso, is it just that is it that the results become more measurable? Is it that the results change the talk?

GINI: I think it’s more measurable. Because you can you can have it you can show a direct correlation now. Hmm.

CHIP: Well, so, anything else that I have not asked you about? I should ask. I feel like this is more of a chat I chip episode,

GINI: they feel that way as well. Thank you for letting me talk about it.

CHIP: That’s not how I intended originally, but it just sort of seems to be the way it fits.

GINI: It’s pretty cool. It’s like, you know, this whole certification and it just came out of a conversation we had with some friends and all of a sudden it just so and it’s been pretty cool to just, I mean, freakin Syracuse believes in this and they’re championing it and it’s, it’s, it’s pretty cool.

CHIP: It is, it is very cool and more importantly, it is Very useful. So we will obviously include links in the show notes to the various aspects of the PESO model that we’ve talked about as well as the training so that if you’re interested about learning in learning more you can. And so I guess that will draw the this episode to a close though. And so this owned content is concluded. We will go forth, share it. I’m probably not gonna buy any ads for it, but maybe not so

GINI: maybe

CHIP: some. I’m Chip Griffin,

GINI: and I’m Gini Dietrich,

CHIP: and it depends

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The Hosts

Chip Griffin is the founder of the Small Agency Growth Alliance (SAGA) where he helps PR & marketing agency owners build the businesses that they want to own. He brings more than two decades of experience as an agency executive and entrepreneur to share the wisdom of his success and lessons of his failures. Follow him on Twitter at @ChipGriffin.


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round and co-host of Inside PR. Follow her on Twitter at @GiniDietrich.

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