This is the inaugural 5 Questions post where I will be interviewing some of the best minds in marketing, PR, social and more.
Taking our own advice, I’ve made some great connections with influencers in our industry. And what these people know will be of great use to you.
I’m limiting these to 5 questions (plus a bonus from time to time) so I fit into their busy schedules while still getting you some great information from these experts.
So, without further ado, let’s dive into our first 5 Questions with…
Ladies and gentlemen, one of my favorite people, Gini Dietrich.
Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm. She also is the founder of the professional development site for PR and marketing pros, Spin Sucks Pro, and co-author of Marketing In the Round.
She is one my favorite people because she is funny, always willing to help, and loves her dog almost as much as I do. She also knows her stuff and shares it often…
Question One – PR and Google
PR has gone through some significant changes recently, mainly thanks to Google’s algorithm updates. What would you say are the most significant changes in PR that small businesses and other organizations should be aware of?
PR has gone through some significant changes, but not because of the Google algorithm updates. Most people assume PR really is just publicity or media relations. If that were the case, Google would have killed the industry by now. What has really changed the industry is social media.
Until 2008, things had been done the same way for more than 50 years. There were no conversations with customers, there was no data to explore, there were no metrics to define and track. Where I see the biggest change is not in how we’re having to communicate differently, but in the big gap between most PR professionals and the business side of things.
It’s like this: When I speak to a group of PR pros, I always ask, “How many of you went into PR because you hate math?” The hands shoot up and I laugh. I’d venture to guess less than one percent of the industry actually likes math, which PR pros equate to data and metrics. They don’t take business classes, they don’t understand a P&L, they don’t know how a business makes money. Not everyone, but the mass majority.
And now we have this amazing opportunity to show how what we do translates to an organization’s revenue stream… to become an investment instead of an expense. But, because most don’t understand the business side of things, they can’t make that translation.
That’s where I see the biggest change … and gap.
Question Two – PR Success and Failure
What is your favorite PR success story? And what is a failure you learned the most from?
Oh man. My favorite? There are so many! It’s like asking me to choose my favorite child!
I’m not sure this is my favorite, but it certainly is one of the funniest. We worked with a client called GardenTech out of Lexington, KY. They had created a fire ant killer that lasted an entire season. Put it down once and you don’t have fire ants in your yard the entire summer. It was a new category and the first of its kind.
Our job, of course, was to build awareness and help sell the new product. So we held a fire ant funeral at a Fire Ant Festival in Georgia. We hired actors to serve as mourners and a Southern Baptist minister. There was a coffin with a human-sized fire ant inside. The mourners sang and danced and praised as the fire ant’s coffin was marched to its resting place.
The whole freaking world covered it. I can’t remember how many TV stations ran the b-roll, but it felt like everyone in the entire nation. I remember my team and I sitting on the curb watching it happen and laughing until our sides hurt.
As for failures? I hate to say that the most I’ve learned from failures hasn’t been from PR, but from running my own agency. Let’s just say I now totally understand why they say cash is king.
Question Three – Creating Content
When it comes to creating great content, what is the one piece of advice you would give to someone starting out?
Just write. Every day. You don’t have to publish every day. You don’t have to even write something that makes sense every day. But you’re not going to be exceptional at content creation unless you actually practice it. It’s like taking piano lessons. If you don’t practice, you won’t be any good.
Question Four – Building a Great Team
You have such a great team at Arment Dietrich. What is your hiring secret (assuming you’ll share without it resulting in my demise)?
I’m not sure it’s a secret, but I use the social networks to meet people. I connect with them, I learn more about them, I understand their strengths and weaknesses. Some even become friends. So, when we have an open position, I know exactly who we want to interview.
For example, I met Lindsay Bell when she was the content director at Radian6. I knew she had something special then and I began to explore her work ethic, her strengths, and her writing abilities. I read her blog. I connected with her online.
When she was on the job market, we didn’t have a job for her, which nearly killed me and she took a job with a start-up. But about a year later the start-up failed and we were ready so I snatched her up as quickly as I could.
Question Five – Biggest Mistakes in PR Today
What are the biggest mistakes you see businesses making in PR today?
The biggest mistake I see happening time and time again is a numbers game. So many executives want you to write a news release and send it to as many journalists as you can. Then they want a number. How many did you send it to? They’re less concerned with how many actually did something with it than they are with how many were distributed.
They also want to know, when you have a story placed, what the impressions were for that story, which is a very, very old way of “measuring” results. They’ve then taken that mentality to the social networks and are more concerned with how many fans, likes, followers, and viewers they have than what those people are actually doing.
It’s hard for it not to be a numbers game because, as human beings, we’re attracted to large numbers, which we equate to success. But that’s not where the magic lie.
Why do you feel that your dog is better than mine?
I don’t think he’s better than your dog! I love all dogs! But I will tell you Jack Bauer is pretty special. I mean, he fights terrorists and protects the house something fierce. Thankfully not everyone close to him has died, like they did in the TV show.
He’s a Blue Weimaraner and the breed attaches to one human being. I am that human being and he does not leave my side. I sometimes do circles around the house just to watch him follow my every step. It’s pretty hilarious. I tell him all the time I don’t think it’s possible for a human being to love a dog as much as I love him, but it’s good I do because he’s exceptionally naughty.
They’re very smart dogs and he’s done things such as climb up on to the counters to get into the upper cupboards where I keep my spices and flour and sugar. He can open the fridge and have a heyday in there. He can open doors (I swear he has opposable thumbs). And he’s very, very sneaky. He’ll see you put something somewhere and wait for days for you not to be paying attention. And then he’ll snatch it. Very naughty.
Enjoy these thoughts from Gini? Read her blog, Spin Sucks!