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Spin Sucks – Unless you are a tennis ball

Spin Sucks – Unless you are a tennis ball

OK, spin can be your friend if you are a baseball (that was for Bill Dorman and Ken Mueller), basketball, football, golf ball…heck, even a bowling ball. Tennis is my sport, so I get to pick the balls with spin on this blog! Put the right spin on a tennis ball, and you can be lethal. Apply the wrong spin to a tennis ball, and you get an unforced error. And as the number of errors creep up, you lose: game, set, match! You then walk away from the court thinking: “My Spin Sucks!”

Well, Gini Dietrich thinks Spin Sucks when it comes to public relations – 100% of the time, no exception. I’ve heard her talk about it firsthand, and it is a consistent message she delivers on the Spin Sucks blog. I like how she makes it abundantly clear in her introduction: “The tools today are different, but the premise remains the same. Lie or spin the truth, and you will be found out. People will take you to task.”

This book is an easy read, and you will find yourself nodding your head in agreement with what Dietrich is describing. It all seems like common sense, right? Yet we all know it is easy to think of something as common sense – it can be a lot more difficult to put that common sense into practice. Here are just a few of the quotes (and notes) that I enjoyed throughout the book, and they should entice you to add Spin Sucks to your book collection (not an affiliate link)…along with a good highlighter, so you can periodically go back and reference all of those “common sense” reminders.

  • “Today, if someone has a bad experience with your company, they take to the Web. they tell their family, their next-door neighbor, and their 3,000 Twitter followers who all tweet and retweet the story until you are faced with a crisis.”

OK, these messages resonated with me throughout the book. I not only can relate to this from a consumer perspective, my company created a social listening and analytics product to help FIND all of those conversations. The goal is to find them, and engage those consumers, to avert or mitigate a crisis.

  • “Your Customers Control Your Brand…and Your Messaging”

Similar to the first point, we need to understand that we live in the world of the socially-savvy and connected consumers. You cannot control their access to social channels and review sites, so you better focus on becoming an active listener and trusted contributor to that brand message.

  • “There are five essential parts to your organization’s story: passion, a protagonist, an antagonist, a revelation, and a transformation.”

Dietrich goes through a lengthy explanation of these five essential parts, but she does a great job using the Chicago Bulls, Oreo, and McDonald’s as case studies. You will find yourself setting down the book and doing a little daydreaming about your own company. What is our passion? Who is our protagonist and antagonist? What is our transformation – how do we bring value to the table that our competitors cannot match?

  • Dietrich discusses how to leverage trackbacks to monitor if unethical content hubs are scraping your content and claiming it as their own original content. This is part of a larger discussion around the dangers of using duplicate content that can result in significant penalties by Google algorithms.
  • I appreciated the chart explaining Paid, Earned, Shared, and Owned Media. It is easy to understand, and I can imagine employees – who are trying to bring their companies into a digital and socially connected world – could leverage the chart as part of their explanation to the C-suite.
  • Dietrich goes into detail around each of the types of media, and she pays a particular focus to Owned Media. Social channels may come and go, and they can choose what they do with the content you share on those channels, but YOUR properties are under YOUR control. Your corporate websites and blogs should provide the foundation for your communication strategy. Dietrich then gives step-by-step instructions on how to best construct your owned media.
  • No digital communications resource would be complete without a discussion around whisper campaigns, trolls, and anonymous attackers. These practices are cowardly and unethical, but they exist. Dietrich discusses how to handle several scenarios if your brand becomes the target of these types of campaigns and attacks, and she even provides Seven Steps to Dealing with Criticism at the end of Chapter 4.
  • Dietrich provides a great first-person social media monitoring and engagement example in regards to car rental companies. It points out this scary possibility: You may not be monitoring your brand and industry on social channels, but what if your competition IS monitoring…and IS very opportunistic luring your customers to their products and solutions.
  • Dietrich again does a pretty deep dive on explaining on-page SEO in Chapter 8. I agree with her recommendation that WordPress SEO by Yoast is a valuable plug-in to make this task easier.
  • “The difference between an issue and a crisis is you rarely hear about the former.”

Dietrich points out that EVERYBODY has issues. It’s how the organization handles them that keeps them from becoming crises. She provides great case studies with Susan G. Komen, Penn State, and Carnival Cruise Lines (and most readers are nodding their heads as they read those brand names). She then outlines Tips for Managing an Issue…starting with “act swiftly.”

In summary, this book goes well beyond what some people (including myself) think of as public relations. It instead provides wisdom, and even how-tos, for effective communications in a digital age. No spin necessary…

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Brian Vickery

I love my Vickery Girls - and grandsons! My career has blessed me to the point I was able to start a new consultancy in 2018: Analytic Integrity. I look to provide analytic experience, and business integrity, to an Analytics world while helping data-driven organizations mature. I enjoy teaching and coaching, watching football and basketball, and playing tennis. I graduated UT-Austin.

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  1. Oooooh, this right here. I love this post! Spin can help you win, or put you in the trash bin — in sports. In business it is just A MISTAKE. Perfect message!

    • DwayneAlicie  Thanks, Dwayne. Just like “business spin”, I had the “Spin Sucks” action on the tennis court tonight.

      Keep it real, act swiftly, and NEVER go down the road of spinning the truth in business communications.