As a marketing and public relations professional, nothing makes me cringe more than the word “spin.” I’ve been in meetings with good-intentioned souls who have used the word’s verb function: “Alison, you’ll know how to spin this.” **Shudder** Or, as a noun: “Let’s put a nice spin on this story.” **Tremble** Most recently, I heard the term “spin doctor” used on a BBC television drama where a married politician was trying to cover up his affair with a staffer; the spin doctor’s job was to dazzle and distract the unwitting reporters who were pursuing the story.
Maybe the word “spin” bothers me because I worked in television news for seven years before coming over to the “dark side” of public relations. More likely, it’s because I am a warm-blooded human being who equates “spin” with other negative words like lying, deception and fraud. And that’s just not what marketing and public relations professionals do. When you tell someone that you think they’re good at “spinning” something, you’re saying that you think they are liars. Even more offensive, you think your audience, your customers or your clients are dumb enough to be deceived.
Gini Dietrich, founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, a Chicago-based integrated marketing communication firm, has made it her mission to challenge the concept of spin. Recently, she borrowed the title from her wildly successful marketing and PR blog, Spin Sucks, and attached it to a new book.
Gini says she wrote Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age for business leaders who need to understand how public relations and marketing really work in today’s digital environment. She writes that part of the reason so many people think of communication professionals as spin doctors is because there’s no universal definition of “public relations” and no governing body to police the industry. Anyone can call herself a public relations consultant today and horror stories predominate many conversations about the PR profession. Gini shares a few of these negative stories in her book, but devotes many more pages to positive examples of communication done right.
Much more than an aspirational mantra, Spin Sucks is an antidote to the unflattering view of public relations as a mystical and deceitful practice. Gini offers fresh and relevant case studies for ethical and effective communication campaigns that profit from today’s technology. She devotes an entire chapter to search engine optimization and the ever-changing Google algorithm. Spin Sucks also demonstrates through well-researched narratives how companies are managing crisis communications in a world where one negative comment can spread like wildfire in minutes through social media. Executives or leaders whose responsibilities include hiring communication professionals–whether those professionals work inside or outside the organization–will benefit from the hiring criteria that Spin Sucks offers. Public relations, marketing and communication practitioners will find inspiration and strategy that will help them better serve their clients and their profession.
To learn more about Spin Sucks–the book and the blog–visit SpinSucks.com. I received an advance galley copy of the book from Gini Dietrich in exchange for an honest review. I applied to be a part of the Spin Sucks brand ambassador program, which was a smart approach that Gini used to promote the launch of her new book. As someone who is keenly interested in promoting worthy authors and their books, I have been studying the brand ambassador campaign and hope to report its results and lessons learned in a future blog post.