November 01, 2016 / by Gini Dietrich

During a recent Twitter chat, I shared how to implement a PESO model to improve content performance. Yet, despite his enthusiasm for this integrated approach, one of the attendees lamented it’s too bad they’d never convince his executive team to implement it.

It makes me crazy when I hear this, which unfortunately is pretty often. Although they are worded differently each time, the reasons a PESO model just won’t work in someone’s organization boil down to:

  • This is naive and inexperienced thinking.
  • My boss only wants media placements.
  • I can’t get access to Google Analytics.
  • We don’t have budget for software or social media advertising…or anything else that might cost $20 or more.

Luckily, all of these obstacles are not insurmountable. Insurmountable is a term best reserved for things such as the historical chances of the Cubs making it to the World Series (or so we thought — Go Cubs, go!). So stop your excuses and get ready to overcome these typical obstacles to PESO model implementation.

This is Naive and Inexperienced Thinking

First, I’m flattered you think I’m still young enough to get carded when I buy wine at my neighborhood wine store. That’s so sweet! I’ve actually been working in PR for more than 20 years. I developed the PESO model in 2014 based on the results I saw the approach earning for hundreds of clients throughout the years.

Back in the day, “results” were what we consider vanity metrics now, such as the number of followers or likes, or even website traffic. An integrated PESO model allows you to track a concrete return-on-investment for your PR activities, by tying content to lead conversions.

All it takes is tracking the correct PR metrics.

I’ve heard this sounds like I’m a digital snake oil salesperson, but I’ve shared numerous examples publicly of how this has worked, as have other proponents of the model.

So, no, it isn’t naive or inexperience talking. If you are a PESO model proponent, you simply are guiding the way to modern PR, which can be scary for some as it means BIG change.

If you hear that as a reason not to implement it, just remember: Change is scary!

My Boss Only Wants Media Placements


Let’s talk about this honestly, shall we? I know how great it feels when someone stops you on the street to say they saw your profile in the local business journal. Or when they saw you on the noon news. It’s a fantastic ego boost.

But what if that media placement doesn’t result in any business for your company? Is it really worth its share of your monthly PR retainer? I don’t think so.

SE-CO-2.9.1 Best practices for showcasing your brand

In the PESO model, media relations is still a key element—but we make it work harder, and pair it with other lead-generating PR activities. Instead of focusing on chasing after top-tier media placements that may drive awareness, we work to obtain targeted media placements that link to owned content, which has the potential to drive leads into our sales funnel and ultimately convert into sales.

Wouldn’t you MUCH rather be able to lay claim to sales conversions than just media impressions or, worse, advertising equivalencies? I know I would, which is why we’ve worked so hard to make this claim.

The PESO model involves measuring and analyzing your results. On a regular basis, you go in and rank the effectiveness of each of your media placements with how it has driven qualified leads and, ultimately, converted into customers. That’s a much more compelling metric to give your executives or clients.

I Can’t Get Access to Google Analytics

I hate to say this is totally normal…even though it should make you crazy. Just the other day, a client’s tech person said, “Oh, you PR people wanting data access. It’s not going to help.” To which I smiled and nodded and said, “Maybe so, but I’d like to be the one who gets to decide that.”

All that to say, access to the Google Analytics account is guarded as jealously as Sméagol guarded the One Ring. If they truly won’t give you access (our client put his foot down and forced his team to add us as a user), you should look for a new job or new client! But there is a way—albeit pretty manual—for you to gather some metrics in the meantime.

With your company’s social media logins, you’ll be able to obtain your social media data. In addition to vanity metrics, such as follower growth and engagement, you will also be able to track activities, such as clicking on an email newsletter subscription button on Facebook or converting through an email newsletter subscription Twitter card.

To track which channels and pieces of content are garnering clickthroughs to your website, you can use the free URL shortening tool and UTM parameters. Doing that, you can tag your links by topic and channel, creating unique URLs for each channel.

This will put your channel and campaign data into Google Analytics—or whichever website measurement tool your organization is using— where it can be passed through to your CRM or marketing automation tool, and be used there to generate reports (or used to generate a Google Analytics report that your tech team gives you weekly).

If your organization doesn’t have reporting setup in those applications—or doesn’t think you have a valid business case to access them—you can slice and dice your link data and manually obtain insight into which links from your media relations and contributed content opportunities are driving action.

We Don’t Have Budget for Software or Social Media Advertising

I was recently in a new business meeting ($150MM business; 500 employees) where their CRM is on the whiteboard in the conference room. That’s right—they don’t use any software for anything.

When I asked what happens if the cleaning crew accidentally erases it, the CFO said, “Oh, that’s happened a time or two before. We just redo it all.”

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

Implementing the PESO model doesn’t require a big PR budget or special software. If you are a notebook and a telephone kind of PR person, you can still successfully implement this approach. You’re just going to need a lot of Sharpies and flipcharts for your planning process.

Social media advertising is an effective way of growing your audience, but it’s also not mandatory. If you build a strong and enthusiastic community of advocates and provide them with incredibly useful or entertaining content, they’ll be happy to spread the word for you.

That said, I’d encourage you to take a hard look at your PR and marketing budget. What if, instead of spending all that money on reprinting your brand brochure, you instead earmark $500 per month to test the effectiveness of amplifying your best performing content on social? All it takes is one small win that can be attributed to your paid social efforts to make the case for investment.

For those of you who still don’t think the PESO model can work in your organization, I challenge you to comment here and tell me why. I promise you can overcome the hurdle. If the Cubs can do it, so can you!

Consistency is Key to PESO Success

As content is developed and rolled out across multiple channels, it’s important to coordinate those efforts and keep your brand voice consistent – otherwise you risk losing sight of your brand’s story. Download Best Practices for Showcasing & Protecting Your Brand for more tips on coordinating your paid, earned, social and owned media strategies.

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About Gini Dietrich

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