By Ailis Wolf
From left to right: Tyler Suiters, Tara Dunion, Robert Krueger, Dan Higgins, and Sultana Ali.
PR professionals have long seen the need to develop skills traditionally part of the marketing and advertising space. And all communications professionals have been aware of the power of integrating social media as part of a good communications plan.
On Thursday, Oct. 20, PRSA-NCC’s Professional Development Committee hosted, “The PESO Model: Success Requires Communicators Now Adopt a Paid, Earned, Shared & Owned Strategy.” Moderated by the Urban Land Institute’s Robert Krueger, panelists Dan Higgins, director of social and content marketing for the PlowShare Group, Tara Dunion, director of media relations for AARP and the AARP Foundation, and Tyler Suiters, vice president of communications for the Consumer Technology Association discussed how using the PESO model has allowed them to achieve high-impact results for their organizations and clients.
Dunion started by sharing a recent challenge the AARP Foundation faced – recruiting enough volunteers to pack 1.5 million meals for needy seniors across the Washington, D.C. region in one day and obtaining media and social media coverage of the event. They focused paid efforts on volunteer recruitment and included a bus wrap, ads on Pandora and some other social media, and a paid media partnership with NBC4. The media partnership with NBC4 included a social media takeover and, although paid partnerships don’t promise media coverage, this one generated earned coverage on NBC4. A story also ran on the front page of the Metro section of The Washington Post and Lindsey Mastis from ABC7 also did a Facebook Live at the event. The social media promotion ended up helping them reach 3.17 million people and meet their goal of 1.5 million meals for needy seniors.
Higgins presented next and first introduced the five principles everyone needs to keep in mind when employing a PESO strategy –
- Attention economy – Audience attention is scarce, since people have so many choices about what and how they consume information. Individuals determine what they want to see based on ease of use and we need to keep that in mind.
- Data – PR professionals may not need to do a deep dive but do need to know the basics about how to attribute campaign success with data.
- Audience at scale – Know how to reach your audience with paid media – targeting is key.
- Fragmentation versus convergence – Although there is a fragmentation of media sources, there has also been a convergence. You can put information out on various social media platforms and pitch to traditional media and it can be complementary.
- Evolved content system – Keep in mind you want your content to last longer to be seen by more people. Users come to content from various sources so look at how to optimize everything, from content on your own website to ads you place elsewhere to social media, to keep users in contact with your content longer.
Suiters said there are three questions you should always ask before engagement to guide your strategy:
- Who’s your audience?
- What’s your narrative?
- Which is your platform?
At CTA, Suiters said they start by doing a deep dive into the data to understand their audience. They look at demographic data to determine what platform is best to reach the audience they are targeting and consider who is most likely to take action, if that is part of their campaign. For a ports campaign encouraging supporters to write their elected officials, CTA pulled news stories about a slowdown at West Coast ports and assembled them into a video, which they pushed out on social media. They ended up with 3,000 messages being sent to 100 senators, 424 representatives and 900+ emails going to the White House.
A key takeaway from the Q&A that followed backed up what Suiters said about understanding your audience being the first thing to do when planning a communications strategy. Higgins stated it’s about getting to the right people at the right time but it’s also about considering all of the platforms and whether your audience uses them and how they interact with each. Suiters told the audience to make it as easy as possible for the audience to get to your content, stay with it, and share it.
Krueger asked the panelists how to convince nonprofits to put money towards campaigns when there are limited resources, even if you are operating within one. Dunion responded by suggesting minimum funding towards the right paid tactics with proper targeting can go a long way, particularly in the crowded marketplace of social media. Suiters suggested using data to show how a particular strategy or tactic can deliver results for the audience you want to reach.
For details on upcoming PRSA-NCC events, visit www.prsa-ncc.org/events.