6 minute read

We Talk With Creator of the PESO Model — Gini Dietrich

Bringing Multi-Channel Marketing Into the Mix, Part 2

We were really excited to travel to Chicago recently to chat with Gini Dietrich, founder of Spin Sucks and pioneer of the PESO model, about all things PESO.

After talking to Diageo’s James Alexander last time we wanted to get another perspective and who would be better to talk to than the founder of the framework? During our chat, she shared her extensive experience with Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned media, and how it’s changing the PR world.

Can you give us a background on the PESO framework and your experience with it?

I’ve had experience with agencies where I’ve produced great work, but there was no real way to measure it. As the web has evolved and we’ve started to understand where things come from and how they affect a business’ growth, that has started to evolve. When we look at the structure of the PESO model, it’s about integrating a whole communications program and making sure it can be measured and linked back to a business’ growth.

What are your thoughts on having to compare the different elements of the PESO model?

All of it is so siloed. The departments don’t talk to one another; they’re not having conversations.

I can kind of understand the idea that we have to compare, because you want to have the things that are most effective, but I also don’t think they’re as effective if they’re not used together.

What kind of companies have you used this model when working with?

As the PESO model has evolved, we’ve discovered that people don’t really know how to use it. They understand it, but they don’t know how to integrate it. I’ve worked with everyone from food and entertainment brands to industrial and financial organisations. It’s about teaching them how to use it and then letting them build it into the process.

Does that process change in different verticals?

I think it changes just from the perspective of goals and targets. I’m working with a food company at the moment and we’re finding that, through the process, the typical publications and blogs are coming up, but we’re also finding that local newspapers are a good target for them. We’re refining through different areas rather than through the entire process.

When you’re helping these organisations, are you setting KPIs per area?

Sort of.

There’s the big business goals, and that’s where we start. Just based on the data that I’ve compiled over time, we have sort of an average per industry. It’s not an average you’d use globally, just for our clients.

Then you start to break it down. For example, owned might not work for one brand, so we might take that out or approach it differently.

What are your thoughts on having a proxy measurement?

In the traditional PR world, you take the subscription of a publication and multiply it by two or five and that’s your number. That’s just the subscription model, though. The way that it’s different from a digital model is, with the digital world, you can tell how many people read an article and came to your site from that article.

What I like about CoverageBook is it’s taking estimates and creating an aggregate so you can see who’s coming to a site.

What it boils down to is this: we have to get more comfortable with the small numbers. We have got executives so used to big numbers that they want crazy things like one million Facebook fans, but for what?

Our job is to train executives on the new way of doing things, and we have to get comfortable talking about how effective the coverage is. Then we have something more concrete.

For people who are at the beginning of this journey and are looking at PESO for the first time, how would you recommend they start talking about those areas to a client?

The answer is, of course, “it depends”.

If I was going in somewhere I’d start with some kind of strategy development program. I’d sit down with the client and dig deep into their business and figure out what they’re trying to achieve and how the PESO model can help them. So, if something like owned media doesn’t make sense, you’ll find out during that process.

Then you can base the framework around their needs and start to figure out what makes most sense and what doesn’t.

Is that what you’re doing right now? Are you connecting different departments?

It’s all encompassing. To me, PR is communications, and communications is social. The industry can and should evolve to include all of it.

Have you found that a challenge?

What I’ve found more challenging is that people will call asking for a PR firm and really they just want media relations or publicity. The education process we take a prospect through before we send a proposal encourages them to think about what they really want and whether this is what they really need.

We’ve walked away from a lot of business because that’s not what we do anymore.

Do you find that it’s changed over the last year?

It’s still siloed.

Any view of it changing soon?

I’m seeing search engine marketers doing media relations, I’m seeing marketers do social and content and, of course, advertisers are doing paid media. But, from my perspective, we should own all of that. We are relationship builders, and social media is building relationships and creating a reason for someone to do business with you.

The kind of stuff that builds loyalists? We should be doing that.

It’s been said that measurement holds us back from being able to lead that? How do we change that?

I think there’s a couple of things that go on.

Typically, communicators have liberal arts degrees, so they don’t have the business side of things. We’re also not typically in charge of a PO, so we always fall underneath a marketing manager or whoever. Because of that, we aren’t able to naturally connect up the dots because we don’t have that business experience or expertise.

Truthfully, I didn’t get it myself until I started my business. Media relations is great, but the question is how can you translate that to sales.

Is that when you started looking at different areas?

It is. You have to add in the other stuff. You have to find ways to use data. Yes, it’s numbers, but it’s not calculus. It’s reading what’s in front of you and looking at the story it’s telling you. By doing this, you can make really good decisions.

Do you think the PESO framework can help tell that story?

I do. And that’s one of the things I teach people how to do — how do you take that data and use it to tell a story?

One of my favourite examples is having someone who wants to get featured in the New York Times. We’ll get them featured there, but we’ll also get them featured in another couple of blogs. And what we find is that the New York Times isn’t actually that great for the goal they wanted to reach. But the blogs, on the other hand, drove a ton of traffic that actually converted to customers.

How important is it to have analytics access?

Please get analytics access! For some reason there seems to be a guard for everybody who doesn’t want you to have analytics access. You can’t break a website or change anything with analytics, so why don’t you have access to them?

Are there a set of metrics that you think are always needed when you’re measuring activity in the PESO framework?

It varies. I’m not naive enough to think that vanity metrics don’t matter. If they decrease suddenly, like your page views suddenly dramatically drop, something’s wrong. You have to have that benchmark. That’s typically where people end, though, and I think that’s just the start. Then, depending on what you’re trying to achieve, the data metrics change.

You talk so comfortably about metrics, but you also mention that you’re from a PR background. How did you develop your knowledge and become more analytical?

I had to. In my business, we were doing all of the things we were supposed to do for clients and it wasn’t working. But, to be fair, I also have a statistics minor. I sit on both sides of the brain, and if I were to do it again I’d do a left brain degree over a right brain one. I also think that data is just fascinating.

Do you think PR and agencies might need a specialist data person to do this?

I think it’d be great if we all adopted this skill because it helps you plan better and make decisions more quickly. Don’t fight it — you should try to understand it, but if you can afford to bring someone in who’s a specialist, then by all means do that.

How do you see this all developing in five, maybe ten, years?

The robots are going to take over!

One of the things that’s really interesting to me is how marketers talk about their software stacks. There’s all this software that they have working together, and communicators don’t do that.

So, using AI to do the kinds of things that are repetitive is so smart, and one of the things I keep saying is that a robot will never replace our empathy and our creativity.

Is there anything you would recommend for people to read or listen to?

Obviously Spin Sucks. There’s a lot we’re doing around the PESO model, so check that out. Everybody’s’ talking about it. All you have to do is Google the PESO model. There’s plenty of places to get the information and lots of people using case studies to show how they’ve used it.

You can listen to the full interview with Gini on the PR Resolution Podcast here.

Written by —
Laura Joint

Laura Joint

Laura is a Director at CoverageBook. She writes and helps PR teams succeed in the reporting of their hard work.