Why PR professionals should adopt the PESO Model

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Public relations is no longer exclusively, or even primarily, the art of creating press releases, establishing relations with members of the media and securing placement in prominent publications. Today’s PR professionals must also produce and distribute other forms of content and even draw upon marketing principles to reliably reach their main audiences. The different channels they have to work within now span paid, earned, shared and owned media – i.e., the major categories identified in the PESO model.

The PESO model at a glance

PESO is usually represented as a set of four circles, corresponding to the following media types:

• Paid: Lead generation, promoted posts on Facebook or Twitter and participation in aggregators like Outbrain all fit into this category.
• Earned: Traditionally, this has been the quintessential PR domain, involving the use of relations with influencers, bloggers and media professionals to reach select audiences.
• Shared: With the maturation of social networks as business tools, PR specialists now regularly use these platforms to share in-house and third-party content.
• Owned: Modern PR agencies and teams create deliverables such as eBooks, white papers, blogs and webinars to directly engage their audiences.

These categories also overlap. For example, native advertising and sponsored blogs both fit into an incentive category between paid and owned media. Content marketing also blends characteristics of owned and shared, since it usually involves a multi-pronged campaign to create and distribute branded assets.

Pros and cons of each PESO type

The PESO model is worth knowing because PR professionals cannot rely on a one-dimensional media strategy. Instead, they must evaluate each channel’s suitability for the task at hand. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each:


Pros: Easy to scale, with reliable reach; more money guarantees more exposure.
Cons: Costly and often not seen as trustworthy by the public.


Pros: Very authoritative and confers long-term benefits in relationship-building.
Cons: Unpredictable results depending on the media outlets in question.


Pros: Low-cost distribution combined with high levels of audience trust.
Cons: Creating more content and improving its quality won’t’ guarantee more shares.


Pros: Low-risk to produce and can live for years as evergreen content.
Cons: Is usually only useful if you already have a substantial audience.

To learn more about the PESO model, consult a few of our previous posts touching on the subject. A Master’s in Strategic Public Relations from the George Washington University can also help you master PESO and begin creating effective PR strategies. Visit the main program page to download our free brochure for more info today.

What is the PESO Model for Marketing? by Iterative Marketing
2017 Global Social Journalism Study by Cision

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