How Lockheed Martin Built Out a PESO Strategy Around Audience Personas

Many organizations are already using the Paid, Earned, Shared, Owned (PESO) model for media coverage without even realizing it. Whatever process your brand uses to earn coverage, understanding how these different content strategies work in consort, and building out a larger strategy around their interplay, can bring many happy returns for the business.

A trio of communicators discussed their PESO strategies at D.C.’s historic National Press Club during PR News' Media Relations Conference on Dec. 6. Among the shared best practices, the importance of developing audience personas around your organizaitonal outreach came up time and again. An audience persona is a fictional character, or profile, that represents a segmented demographic of your brand’s target audience. And when it comes to developing a sound PESO strategy, this relatively simple exercise creates a smart roadmap for honing your media relations plan.

Bill Phelps, VP of external communications at Lockheed Martin, explained that audience personas don’t need to come exclusively through fictional characters. In the case of his brand, they actually first came through a writer.

“The writer who leads our online story program found that creating personas for our key audiences really affected her story selection,” said Phelps, “as well as the structure and tone of the stories. By selecting three ‘people’ for whom we were writing, our content improved and so did our results.”

Phelps added that many stories were written with a potential employee perspective in mind, and that crowdsourcing prospective employee personas proved to be a good way to start this process, as it allowed readers to see what strong purpose Lockheed Martin employees have. “If a future engineer wants to use his or her talents to take on big challenges,” said Phelps, “such as putting people on Mars or advancing artificial intelligence,” their ambition might then make for a rich story about how Lockheed Martin is the perfect place for them to realize those goals.

The key to making sure these personas weren’t just developed blindly, however, involved establishing a few desired outcomes, then working backwards to find the appropriate personas that would get the brand there through coverage. In Lockheed Martin’s case, these outcomes were attracting talent and educating potential customers about all of the work, and products, that Lockheed Martin produces.

Establishing these outcomes was critical to developing a successful PESO strategy, Phelps stressed. “Prior to that, we found ourselves writing interesting stories, but not always with a strong connection to our strategy,” he said.