How we use the PESO model for Fostering campaigns

Becoming a foster carer is a huge lifestyle change. Giving your home, time and attention to helping vulnerable children is one of the biggest decisions you can make. Recently, the Cost-of-Living crisis has made it harder for Essex County Council (ECC) to recruit new foster carers.  

Megan Gilson, Senior Marketing and Communications Lead with ECC’s Fostering service explains how she plans several campaigns throughout the year using the PESO model. 

What problem are you solving?

Unfortunately, the number of children coming into care is rising and Essex needs more foster carers. Carers provide a safe and stable home to children, sometimes for the first time - to help them overcome their trauma and set them on a path to a better future.  

Foster carers offer children in care across Essex safety, security and a nurturing environment. We’re working hard to: 

  • keep sibling groups together,  
  • keep children local to the areas they are familiar with 
  • best match children to carers to achieve the best outcomes for all. 

Our marketing campaigns reach those who are looking to give back or make a difference. Typically, we start the year with a recruitment campaign to resonate with people looking for a new direction.  

Then, we run different campaigns throughout the year maximising our opportunity to further raise the profile of fostering. These include - linking in with national events like Pride month and running high-profile campaigns targeting empty nesters each September and October when Universities colleges start. 

We know fostering isn’t a quick decision and therefore we have to nurture our leads by inspiring them first and then remarketing to them throughout the year using myth busting and informative content to help ‘get them over the line’. 

Using the PESO model

We follow the PESO model – building a campaign from Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned channels. There are so many marketing channels available, using the PESO model helps us carefully consider each of them and how they work together.  


First, ‘paid’ is where we pay for our content to take a space or time on the channel. For Fostering, we use digital advertising across: 

  • Social media 
  • Radio  
  • Dynamic audio 
  • Newspapers 
  • Digital display 

Paid has benefits. For example, it’s quick - ads can be placed in front of your audience on the same day. However, some audiences have less trust in paid advertising – social media especially. But that’s a benefit of using a PESO model - a mix of channels reinforces your messages. 

I like that paid digital ads can be highly targeted reducing waste, trackable, supply valuable insight into what works, and you can effectively remarket to people based on their interactions. 


Next, ‘earned’ media is other people spreading the word, you’ve ‘earned’ the shout-out. Across Essex, our campaigns have generated press and media online, plus broadcast and print. 

Recently, BBC Essex interviewed two of our carers, Bradleigh and Ricardo to give listeners an insight into the fostering process. Listeners are hearing first hand from real carers, when using a PESO model, these opportunities add authenticity and endorsement.  


Then, ‘shared’ content is published on other channels. We produce content to be shared across organisations including: 

  • Police, fire, health, ambulance  
  • Schools  
  • Libraries 
  • Community voluntary service 
  • Faith and religious groups  
  • Parish councils  
  • Town and district councils  

Usually, we’re sharing organically, so we simply contact a connection at the organisation, and they’re happy to share.  

Plus, ‘shared’ content increases audience’s trust in our messages when they see known organisations re-sharing on their channels.  


Finally, ‘owned’ content is shared on channels we have complete editorial control over. Videos are one example of ‘owned’ content we build into our PESO model.  

Foster carers are given an opportunity to share their experiences of becoming a foster carer with Essex County Council. Just like Bradleigh and Ricardo’s radio interview, hearing from carers can encourage enquiries and reassure any concerns.  

These videos are valuable as they can be re-purposed as quotes, shorter videos for social media and shared on our website.  

More about the PESO model  

Using the PESO model help you to choose which channels are right for you, to think about who your audience is and their preferences. You can find help using the PESO model on the C&M toolkit. 

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