It is no secret that the world of communications is currently going through a period of rapid change. With the complete digitalization of information and growing prominence of various social media networks in people’s everyday lives, the ways we reach consumers — and the ways in which they prefer to be reached — seem to be in a constant state of flux. As recently as just a few years ago, marketing, advertising and public relations were all considered their own harmonious, yet distinct entities. However, in today’s increasingly interconnected world, communications professionals must think of each of these realms as equally important parts of a puzzle that are reliant on each other to succeed.
All of these changes can feel intimidating and at times it may seem all but impossible to stay ahead of the curve; however, one constant has remained from days past — proper planning. Planning ahead is the key to success, and adapting tried and true methods can ensure that each aspect of your communications efforts will work together and reach consumers — methods such as the PESO model.
Engineered by marketing and public relations expert Gini Dietrich, the PESO model encompasses today’s four main media types: Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned media. Each of these media types is relevant to successful marketing programs and learning how to bring all of them together will help companies better prepare by forming seamlessly integrated communications plans.
Paid media is traditionally thought of as advertising. In the past, consumers saw paid advertising in the form of television and radio commercials and print ads, though today the options for paid media placements are much broader and also include online banner ads, Facebook-promoted posts and any other instance in which a company pays to have their message distributed to the masses. Paid media is one of the best ways to communicate in highly competitive industries because you are in complete control of your message and it is disseminated quickly and effectively. However, it is also hard to measure the success of paid media, and it is the most costly of the four media types.
Earned media is most commonly associated with public relations. Public relations professionals rely on journalists to get their brand’s message right and disperse it to their audiences. These placements build rapport between the public and your company because the information is coming from what is seen as a reliable third-party source. Media relations results are based on the publication’s relevance to the industry and circulation numbers. However, as Dietrich points out, judging communications campaigns solely by these traditional metrics doesn’t tell the whole story: “Does an influencer with 10,000 followers have the same score as someone with 1,000 followers? It could very well be that the person with 1,000 followers can incentivize purchase with 10 percent of his followers, while the person with 10,000 followers can incentivize purchase with only one percent.”
According to a recently released study from the Pew Research Center, of the 81 percent of U.S. adults who use the Internet, 71 percent are on Facebook and 52 percent use two or more social media sites. Seventy percent of Facebook users engage with the site on a daily basis and 65 percent say they regularly share, post and comment on content.
While traditional earned media results have historically been seen by the public as the most credible recommendations, the increasing pervasiveness of social media has both put more weight in word-of-mouth referrals, as well as made these third-party referrals immediately accessible. When companies engage with consumers on social media sites who then go on to share information about the brand with their own networks, this content becomes shared media. According to digital communications consultant Paul Dyer, shared media “refers to any marketing channel in which brands participate on an equal footing with their external audiences” and therefore allows brands to initiate conversations with millions of people in a cost-effective way. In order to grow this audience that will share your content, however, there needs to be worthy content available, which leads us to owned media.
Owned media includes all online properties owned by a company, including websites, blogs and brand social media pages. The content provided on these channels can integrate perfectly with the other three media types, as long as it is valuable and interesting to the consumer. Instead of going years between updates, it is now vital to think of your website as a living document, with the goal of creating a treasure trove of valuable and timely information that will keep consumers coming back and increase their trust in your brand — leading to more sales. The pest management industry lends itself easily to this idea of content marketing. Pest infographics, expert tips and pest news are all of great use to the public and offer the type of information that will make people want to engage with and share your brand.
Putting it all together.
Each of these media types is only as strong as the others supporting it. Putting together a comprehensive communications plan while utilizing the PESO strategy necessitates open communication from the start to ensure each piece of the puzzle will fit together. As you’re planning ahead and integrating the four media types, always keep the big picture — increasing trust in your brand and your company’s sales — in mind, especially when creating owned media.
Use the metrics and analytics available to you to discern what type of content is gaining the most traction with consumers, and push it out through your social channels to turn it in to shared media. The right content will allow people to absorb your message and your brand in the spheres to which they are accustomed to viewing information. According to Rebekah Iliff at Mashable, “What starts as a mere story to generate industry news can inevitably become an entire campaign that reaches customers where they are consuming news in a meaningful, compelling, targeted way.”
The Bottom Line.
Implementing the PESO model will allow you to stay ahead of the curve and reach consumers from every angle to educate them on pest threats, proper pest control measures and when it’s time to call in a professional. The lines between advertising, marketing and public relations have all but dissolved with the advent of first, the Internet, and second, social media, but the new opportunities created by this shift cannot be overlooked. Use them to your advantage to create and share your own story.
The author is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance and vice president of public affairs for NPMA. For more about PPMA, visit www.npmapestworld.org/ppma.