Do you know this feeling when you know you are onto something great, but you just can’t seem to grasp it? By visualizing what integrated communications actually means, the PESO model helped me tackle that. Here’s what happened.

As a junior, and just like many others, I just did what my boss told me to do. As a medior, I tried so hard to excell, I collapsed and was on the verge of choosing a career in event management. I was just so tired of selling ‘air’, to both journalists and customers, that I really had enough of it.

Luckily, someone talked some sense into me. I swopped my old boss for a new one, and I learned that there’s more to our business than sending out press releases and chasing editorial calendar topics. To fall back on a cliché: I learned that PR stands for public relations, not for press relations. And hey, it only took me five years to discover it. Yay!

Some time went by, and around the time that I started feeling traditionally comfortable in my new comfort zone, I discovered someone had come up with a methodology for integrated communication campaigns: the PESO model. It was exactly what I thought our industry needed: it visualized what integrated communications means, had the potential to make a lot of PR people look past the blinkers and would just spice things up a bit. I was convinced that putting the model into practice was going to change my job, and my colleagues’ jobs.

It’s over a year later now, and I’m still a convinced believer. PESO lived up to my expectations. But I also learned a couple of things. As with many other things in life, the proof of the pudding is in the eating. And the eating isn’t as easy as it seems when the customer is paying for the meal. Breaking out of traditional thinking yourself is hard, making other people do that sometimes seems impossible.

What worked in our case, was developing PESO campaigns for new customers and projects, and use those examples and learnings to convince existing, traditional PR customers of PESO’s benefits. That is, if they are (a bit) open to it.

Another challenge was making sure our colleagues grasped the essence of what PESO is all about. Reading and talking about it is one thing, applying it to customer’s campaigns is something else. What really helps is keeping PESO inspiration and visual reminders nearby.  If not, we always tend to fall back on what we know the best.

Whenever we work on a new project, coming up with distribution ideas is one of my favourite parts. Once you know what your customer wants to achieve with his new project or campaign and you have a couple of creative & content ideas worked out, you can start planning how to build reach. And by applying just the right Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned tactics, you reach the right audience (more than once), creating impact for your customer. And that’s what it’s all about, right?

To chose the right distribution tools, and to be sure you don’t fall into the ‘we’ll do what we’ve always done’ trap, the trick is to visualize the PESO tactics. If you do that during brainstorms with colleagues or customers, you’ll get a step closer in making the PESO model stick. It goes like this:

  • Make sure you have the PESO circles with you (on a piece of paper, or, even better, on a whiteboard)
  • Come up with campaign ideas for paid, earned, shared and owned media and write them down on post-its
  • Group the ideas in the different circles and vote which ideas can stay
  • Draw lines between the post-its to visualize the links between the ideas and call-to-actions
  • Turn the ideas into practice! (by using Kanban-style ways of working, for example)

Because our set of communication tools keeps on growing – the result of all that brainstorming! – we developed an extensive list to keep track of possible PESO tactics. That also ensures we can stay consistent in the ideas we propose, and we don’t reinvent the wheel over and over.

And to make things even more fun and interactive, we turned that list into a deck of cards: easy to ‘play’ with during brainstorms, to use as a visual checklist for smaller campaigns or simply to go through and catch some new ideas for recurring projects. For example when you’re wondering what else you can do with that ‘new press release from global’, the whitepaper you get to write for that tech customer or the work you’ll put in redesigning product leaflets for healthcare customer x.

And just like that, eating the pudding gets a bit easier!

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