Defining Marketing & PR: PESO

This is the first installment of definitions of common and perhaps not so common terms used in Marketing & Public Relations. In a world full of acronyms it’s easy to get overloaded. My goal is to keep it as short and straight to the point as possible. Any yet I start with PESO which is technically four definitions in one, but each is a vital part of a sound strategic Marketing and Public Relations effort.

Meet PESO – the currency of Marketing and Public Relations.


This is an acronym used to reference the four media types within marketing and public relations used to promote, support and defend their brand. Lee Odden explains the “mix of media types are what online marketers employ to facilitate the connection between brand information and consumers/buyers across the customer lifecycle relationship.” (Odden, 2011)

Figure 1: Source of Image:

Paid Media

Traditionally this is what is known as advertising. Payment is made for space in a newspaper, magazine, online article post or time on a radio station or television program or a billboard (electronic or paper). The most familiar form of Paid Media is the advertisements you see in magazines. Paid media allows the company to get their message out in their own words. It is most effective in highly competitive industry spaces.

Earned Media

This term is synonymous with Public Relations professionals because they are responsible for generating publicity for their customer. The result of successful public relations efforts is coverage in desired media outlets on the topics which make the customer shine. There is no payment for this coverage. The customer is mentioned or even featured due to the efforts of the public relations professional.  The business section of a newspaper is a prime example of Earned Media. Companies are written about every day and where there is a quote from a company spokesperson the public relations team earned the placement.

Social Media

This media type can also be referenced as shared media because company content is distributed or redistributed by their customers or potential consumers, and/or the company interacts with their customers and or consumers on a social platform. Companies encourage this behavior by including social sharing buttons for Facebook, YouTube, LinkedIn and other social networking sites.

Owned Media

Company websites are the primary vehicle for owned media. Content created by the company to inform and educate that customers and potential customers find interesting, engaging and above all valuable. This includes free webinars, white papers, blog posts, info-graphics and podcasts. This is content controlled by the company effectively making it a publisher.

There are a couple of variations to the four media types –

Paid, Earned, Owned, Shared & Traded – The addition of Traded expands the media types to include a short term mutually beneficial arrangement where two companies agree to guest posts on blogs or work on a video explaining an industry topic or teaming up for a speaking engagement. The “trade” is that each seeks to benefit by further exposure to a new or untapped audience.

Paid, Earned, Owned, Shared & Promoted – The addition of Promoted is actually a sub-division of Paid. Promoted specifically refers to in-stream or social paid advertising.



Odden, L. (2011). Paid, Earned, Owned & Shared Media – What’s Your Online Marketing Media Mix? [Blog post]. Retrieved from (2012). PaidOwnedEarnedSocial.jpg. Retrieved January 2014 from


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