The PR BlogMedia & PsychologyPR TheoriesThe PESO Model: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media

The PESO Model: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media

A straightforward media classification model.

Cover photo: @jerrysilfwer

The PESO mod­el is help­ful in pub­lic relations.

The PESO mod­el is used to clas­si­fy dif­fer­ent types of media: paid, earned, and shared media. The mod­el has emerged as an invalu­able tool for nav­ig­at­ing the com­plex­it­ies of mod­ern pub­lic relations. 

This con­tem­por­ary approach to PR affords organ­isa­tions a more com­pre­hens­ive and stra­tegic per­spect­ive on their com­mu­nic­a­tions efforts, respond­ing adeptly to the expo­nen­tial rise in digit­al chan­nels and audi­ence segmentation.

Here we go:

The PESO Model (Modern Version)

PESO Model - Doctor Spin - The PR Blog
The PESO mod­el in pub­lic relations.

The PESO Model

The PESO mod­el divides the media land­scape into four dif­fer­ent media chan­nel types: 

  • Paid chan­nels include advert­ising, spon­sor­ships, ambas­sad­or col­lab­or­a­tions etc.
  • Earned chan­nels include news art­icles, influ­en­cer endorse­ments, word-of-mouth etc.
  • Shared chan­nels include social media brand posts, accounts, SERP vis­ib­il­ity etc.
  • Owned chan­nels include news­let­ters, web­sites, pub­lic­a­tions for intern­al or extern­al use etc.

Don Bartholomew, vice pres­id­ent of digit­al research at Fleishman Hillard, presen­ted a ver­sion of the PESO mod­el in 2010. According to PR blog­ger and PR meas­ure­ment expert Heather Yaxley, this is likely to be the earli­est men­tion of the model:

PESO Model | PR Theories | Doctor Spin
The PESO mod­el. Source: PRConversations.

In 2013, PR blog­ger Gini Dietrich pop­ular­ised the PESO mod­el on her blog, Spin Sucks:

In June 2013, Gini Dietrich presen­ted the first iter­a­tion of the PESO mod­el you may recog­nise in a blog post: The Four Different Types of Media. It was fol­lowed in August by the post Mobile Marketing: Use the Four Media Types in Promotion, where she talked about integ­rat­ing paid, earned, owned, and shared.”
Source: PRConversations​.com 1Yaxley, H. (2020, June 28). Tracing the meas­ure­ment ori­gins of PESO. PRConversations​.com. https://​www​.prcon​ver​sa​tions​.com/​t​r​a​c​i​n​g​-​t​h​e​-​m​e​a​s​u​r​e​m​e​n​t​-​o​r​i​g​i​n​s​-​o​f​-​p​e​so/

Learn more: The PESO Model: Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media

💡 Subscribe and get a free ebook on how to get bet­ter PR ideas.

Different Types of Media in PR

Paid Media

  • Tounge in cheek, PR pro­fes­sion­als often say, “Advertising is the tax you pay for not being remark­able.

Paid media is some­what for­eign to pub­lic rela­tions, encom­passing advert­ise­ments, sponsored con­tent, and oth­er forms of pur­chased expos­ure. However, the PESO mod­el under­scores its util­ity not as a stan­dalone strategy but as one com­pon­ent in a much lar­ger orches­tra of tactics. 

By dove­tail­ing paid efforts with oth­er media types, organ­isa­tions can extend the reach of their mes­saging, com­ple­ment­ing tra­di­tion­al advert­ising with the authen­ti­city and engage­ment offered by earned, shared, and owned media.

Earned Media

Earned media refers to pub­li­city gained through meth­ods oth­er than paid advert­ising. It includes news fea­tures, reviews, and any oth­er form of cov­er­age that an organ­isa­tion doesn’t dir­ectly control. 

Earned media is often seen as a wild card due to its unpre­dict­ab­il­ity. However, coher­ent and integ­rated com­mu­nic­a­tion activ­it­ies can help shape the nar­rat­ive and cre­ate the con­di­tions for pos­it­ive cov­er­age, allow­ing organ­isa­tions to take advant­age of the cred­ib­il­ity earned media provides.

Shared Media

Shared media rep­res­ents a new­er but no less sig­ni­fic­ant sphere of PR. Encompassing social media plat­forms and oth­er user-gen­er­ated con­tent, shared media is about fos­ter­ing dia­logue and engage­ment. The PESO mod­el acknow­ledges its grow­ing influ­ence, and its inter­sec­tion with oth­er media types is crucial. 

Organisations can boost engage­ment, feed­back, and vir­al­ity by shar­ing owned con­tent or pro­mot­ing paid media on social plat­forms, turn­ing audi­ences from pass­ive recip­i­ents into act­ive participants.

Owned Media

Owned media refers to the chan­nels con­trolled by the organ­isa­tion itself — web­sites, blogs, news­let­ters, and more. 

While owned media provides unpar­alleled con­trol over the mes­sage, the PESO mod­el recog­nises that it’s most effect­ive when stra­tegic­ally integ­rated with the oth­er three types. For instance, owned con­tent can extend the life of earned media cov­er­age or serve as a launch­pad for paid and shared media campaigns.

A Great Model — But Not Perfect

The PESO mod­el under­scores the inter­con­nec­ted nature of mod­ern pub­lic rela­tions. Rather than view­ing each media type in isol­a­tion, it encour­ages a hol­ist­ic approach that aligns and integ­rates vari­ous media strategies. 

I prefer to use the mod­el to under­score the crit­ic­al dif­fer­ences between mar­ket­ing (paid media) and pub­lic rela­tions (earned, shared, and owned media). Others prefer to use the mod­el to show­case how pub­lic rela­tions could ven­ture into paid media channels.

In a time where the lines between pub­lic rela­tions, mar­ket­ing, and advert­ising con­tin­ue to blur, the PESO mod­el offers a ver­sat­ile and adapt­able frame­work that mir­rors the com­plex­ity of the mod­ern media landscape.

In short: The PESO mod­el is imper­fect but still use­ful when ana­lys­ing the mod­ern media landscape.

Please sup­port my blog by shar­ing it with oth­er PR- and com­mu­nic­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als. For ques­tions or PR sup­port, con­tact me via jerry@​spinfactory.​com.

Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer
Jerry Silfwer, alias Doctor Spin, is an awarded senior adviser specialising in public relations and digital strategy. Currently CEO at KIX Index and Spin Factory. Before that, he worked at Kaufmann, Whispr Group, Springtime PR, and Spotlight PR. Based in Stockholm, Sweden.

The Cover Photo

The cover photo has nothing to do with public relations, of course. I share for no other reason that I happen to enjoy photography. Call it an “ornamental distraction”—and a subtle reminder to appreciate nature.

The cover photo has


Grab a free subscription before you go.

Get notified of new blog posts
& new PR courses

🔒 Please read my integrity- and cookie policy.

Latest Posts
Similar Posts
Most Popular