The old ways of marketing and PR aren’t working anymore…

When I was a news reporter back in the late 90s I used to walk to the fax machine on the hour every hour. I’d also read piles of post at least twice a day.

I’d go and meet people face-to-face, for coffee or beers, to discuss stories.

I’d pound the streets, visiting shops, police, attractions, community centres.

I’d sit in court or council meetings for hours on end.

I wrote in a pad with an actual pen and always had a few spares in case one ran out.

I picked up an actual phone and spoke to people.

And I’d be called by countless PR agencies who were pushing their latest press releases from their clients and wonder what on earth they were doing trying to ‘sell-in’ such a terrible story.

In just over 20 years, the only one of these that doesn’t seem to have changed is the last one.

PR isn’t what it used to be…. Most of the time

The amount of people who still think PR is only about writing press releases and generating media profile genuinely baffles me.

There are still plenty of PR agencies who think this too by the way.

But we’re not one of them.

Instead, we think the old ways of marketing and PR just simply aren’t working any more.

Thinking of marketing in silos is outdated – particularly in a world when marketing channels are converging more than ever.

It’s why Lee and I set up No Brainer, and it’s why we hire people who share the same mindset.

Creative Intelligence

This is why we devised our ‘Creative Intelligence’ model when we set up five years ago, and it still stands the test of time to this day.

In fact, with all the data we now have at our disposal, we believe it may now be more relevant than ever. The ways of measuring the reach of our work are boundless.

Creative Intelligence, put simply, is centred around the function of the brain – left brain (intelligence) and right brain (creativity).

By combining left and right brain thinking, instead of developing content that might look great but deliver nothing, we develop campaigns that are built on a foundation of insight and data to drive meaningful results.

Once we have this clarity for our clients – the intelligence, data, analytics, audience profiles, message clarity, and KPIs that relate to them and only them – we can bring to life genuinely impactful creative and thought-provoking ideas in many compelling ways.

But, critical to all of this is how these ideas and campaigns are delivered.

And, for this, we’re inspired by Gini Dietrich’s PESO model.

Intelligent Delivery

The PESO model – Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned – was officially launched in 2014, when the book Spin Sucks, authored by Gini Dietrich, was published.

It showed the power of thinking in an integrated (or converged) way, and maximising channels and techniques – both traditional and modern – to create way more impact and better results, rather than delivering a single component of the marketing mix.

Together, ideas and campaigns distributed through PESO are incredibly powerful. We know, because we do it through intelligent delivery ourselves.

We also know this approach drives meaningful change and meaningful results.

Only recently, Gini updated the model to create PESO 2.0 and now hosts a series of masterclasses.

Although the model – particularly the latest evolution – does a great job of highlighting all the tactics and considerations needed to deliver an integrated campaign, collectively, as a team it didn’t work specifically for us in its current form.

However, Gini’s work has inspired us to devise our Intelligent Delivery model for No Brainer and our clients, and this now underpins everything we do in terms of our services for clients and prospects.

Our version of model looks like this:

The No Brainer way

We don’t claim to be experts in anything we’re not.

If we need something doing that we don’t do, then we’ll work with best-in-class partners and collaborators and we’ll let our clients know who they are.

We don’t white-label, by which we mean we don’t claim to do it and then discreetly get someone else to. Instead, we give the agencies we work with the credibility and respect they deserve.

But they have to be the very best at what they do, as it’s our reputation at stake if we refer or recommend agencies or partners to our clients. We won’t compromise on that.

So, what are we experts at?


‘Paid’ media, in our case, doesn’t mean dazzling, big-money TV, billboards and print ads. For that, you’d need an amazing creative design agency – and we know a few if you do.

Instead, for us and for our clients, we’re experts in particular areas of paid marketing.

We specialise in paid social media and re-targeting; native and sponsored content (targeting content and adverts on relevant channels so they look and feel part of that channel), and influencer marketing.

The power of paid social cannot be understated in today’s world. We hear so many people boosting posts here and there. That’s the simplest form, but there’s so much more to it. Done right, paid for social media can truly revolutionise returns for your business, and it can deliver compelling results in every sector you could possibly imagine.

Influencer marketing is not something Lee and I factored into the business five years ago. Today, it’s a critical part of what we do across our client accounts as bloggers and influencers are becoming incredibly powerful for driving engagement, endorsing brands and sales. We have the results to prove this too.


‘Earned’ media is new-world PR. For us, this now includes elements such as media relations, digital PR, online content, link-building and outreach. It’s a clear strength of our agency and these are all areas we’re proud to lead our market in.

Whether it’s TV, radio, print, online, trade media, a blog or a podcast there’s always a ‘fit’ for any client. It doesn’t matter what you do, there will be a channel – usually very many – through which you can connect with your audiences.

In the last few weeks just for our clients, we’ve generated coverage and profile in the FT, Telegraph, Metro, BBC, Radio Five Live, Guardian, Mirror and so many others. Demand is still high for stories.

Combine that with ‘editorial hijacking’ – basically reacting instantly (or near as damn it) to trending topics with comments from clients – and the opportunities for backlinks, profile and brand building are vast.


In her latest view of PESO 2.0, Gini defines ‘Shared’ media as social media. However, we believe it goes beyond that for our clients and for our team.

Social media is now a must-have for every business that’s serious about engaging with its audiences. Whether a retail business selling direct-to-consumer or a business selling products and services to other business, social media is the powerhouse of new business and sales.

I’ve lost count of the number of people who have spoken to me to say their business development isn’t working any more. Lots in marketing and PR isn’t working any more.

Done right, social media can drive huge returns no matter what market you’re in or serve. It’s another area we excel in, so it’s a key part of our PESO model for No Brainer.

But it’s also critical to understand the other components of Shared – for us, that’s groups and forums (an underused and powerful channel to connect with audiences) and online reviews, as well as social media.

Groups, forums and online reviews have the power to shape (positively and negatively) how products and services are received and used, so they shouldn’t be neglected.

Social also plays a crucial role in driving brand advocacy and loyalty. The choice of channels is important, but any brand not embracing the potential value of social media has already fallen way behind the times and, most likely, the competition.


For us, ‘Owned’ is another critical channel, and it’s often a key starting point for us with clients.

Website data (via Google Analytics), email data, SEO audits and the like can often give you a whole raft of insights to make truly informed decisions on the campaigns, content and marketing you deliver to clients.

Many of our quick wins for clients come from this initial analysis, but our regular monitoring also informs our collective strategy and focus as we work closely with clients over the following weeks, months and years.

SEO and PR work hand in hand in today’s world. They shouldn’t sit in their own vacuums. PR is especially crucial to SEO as it helps build vastly superior links – one of Google’s most important search ranking factors.

Put simply, even a handful of placements on the websites of national newspapers, trade publications or big regional news sites can elevate your SEO performance to new heights.

For us, Owned includes SEO, content marketing, websites and email marketing as key ways to amplify stories, and again, it’s where our specialism lies.

Want to know more?

We’ll be sharing more about the different parts of the Intelligent Delivery model over the next few weeks, and no doubt you’ll see it through our own PESO channels (as we make ourselves our own client!).

If you’re interested in exploring how this could work in your world then please get in touch. We’d be happy to chat.

Lee Cullen

Lee Cullen

Having worked in-house and agency-side, I have almost 15 years’ experience working in various marketing and communications roles. With an AMEC gold certificate in measurement and evaluation so I’m always looking to show outcomes and prove the impact of our work.

Table of Contents

Share this article

Want to chat?

Leave your details and one of our experts will contact you!