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Truescope Talks with Gini Dietrich

In this edition of Truescope Talks, we’re thrilled to speak with entrepreneur and respected global leader in the PR, communications and marketing industries, Gini Dietrich.

Gini is Founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich and Author of the blog and book, Spin Sucks. She is also co-author of Marketing In The Round, co-host of communications and social media focussed podcast, Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.  

Gini is renowned for the acclaimed PESO Model™, which we discuss further in this piece, as well as covering her breadth of experience, the importance of technology in communications today and why prioritizing measurement is essential to effectively demonstrate value for communication teams.

Welcome to Truescope Talks, Gini. 

Thank you so much! I’m a big fan of John and Meg and Alan so I am very honored to be here.

Can you tell us about your professional background and the evolution of Spin Sucks?

I “grew up” in the global PR firm world. I worked on some of the best accounts with some large budgets. I was taught how to swim in deep water before they even considered putting me in shallow water to learn the basics. I loved, loved, loved my job and my team—some of the people I worked with early in my career became lifelong friends.

But along the way, I discovered that the way PR was done in big firms was pretty cookie cutter and there was no real way to measure the work that we did. When I went out on my own, it was with the intention of figuring out the measurement piece—at least for our clients and my agency, if not for the entire industry.

As you can imagine, it hasn’t been as easy as I thought. We are still figuring it out and it continues to evolve, but every day, we get a little bit closer to proving that communications, like marketing and advertising, is an investment, not an expense.

Let’s talk about the PESO Model™. Can you share with us how you came up with the model and how it has evolved?

I would love to say that it was some genius and strategic idea I had one day that would allow me to gain trademarks and copyrights overnight and build a business around it.

It was not.

When I wrote the book, Spin Sucks, I outlined the process we used in my agency. It was not called the PESO Model™ and it was not fully fleshed out. But I had a brilliant publisher who insisted we name it and that we create a graphic to go along with it. 

At the time, it was very tactical. I had to get the book published and didn’t have time to keep futzing with it. But I have had the value of time since the book was published and today it’s a fully integrated, strategic model that provides communicators the ability to measure their work back to cold, hard cash.

How can PR and communications professionals benefit from integrating the PESO Model™ into communication strategies?

Outside of being able to measure the effectiveness of their work, it provides a four-legged foundation for communications. Many professionals lean on one or two (earned and owned, typically), but a two-legged stool is never as sturdy as a four-legged chair.

The value in the PESO Model™ is that, when you use all four media types together, not only is your work measurable, but where the media types overlap, the real magic happens. You begin to see how reputation and brand are built online and off - and that you can actually measure their effectiveness. It truly is magical.

A recent report from Edelman, The Future of Corporate Communications, revealed the role of a communicator has changed significantly. Amongst the insights was the need to invest in CommsTech. How are you utilizing this within your business and what excites you about the use of technology within communications today?

I LOVE technology. Think about this: when I started my career, we had these huge green books called Bacons that listed all of the journalists. They were out of date as soon as they were published because, if a journalist left a job and went somewhere else, that wasn’t updated in the books. So there were all sorts of post-it notes and scribbles in the books where one of us would call a journalist, only to discover they’d left - and we’d make that note for our colleagues.

Can you imagine creating your media lists that way? And forget about monitoring what anyone said about your brand. The only time you got any real feedback is if you conducted focus groups or if someone sent a letter to the CEO.

Today, though, we have all sorts of tools that allow us to build media lists that are updated instantaneously, software that gives us all sorts of business intelligence and can help us predict buyer intent (thank you, Truescope!). Why wouldn’t you want software to do those jobs while you focus on the things that only humans can do? I’m a big fan.

Measurement, you say, is one of the most important components of any communications program. Tell us more about why you believe this to be true and how businesses can benefit from prioritizing measurement?

More and more, the meetings I’m in with business leaders are all about results. I was just talking to a friend about this the other day and I said that we don’t have a single client who cares about brand awareness or reputation. Sure, they care about it if it’s bad or it’s not working, but they don’t see the monetary value of it. All they care about is whether or not the work we’re doing drives revenue. 

If we can’t measure our efforts, we can’t demonstrate that we do drive revenue. And, over time, executives get frustrated and the CFO looks at the monthly statements and says, “Well, here’s a big number we can immediately remove.” That big number is always the communications team or firm.

However, if we measure our efforts and we demonstrate that we are instrumental in driving revenue, suddenly that big number becomes part of what fuels the business forward and they can’t afford to get rid of it.

What is your number one piece of advice for anyone starting out in the comms industry?

Learn as much as you can. Absorb everything. Jump into the deep end and learn how to swim, not just doggie paddle. Do things that are asked of you - and find new things to do. Study the industry. Follow the influencers. Bring new ideas to meetings. But most of all, make friends with someone in accounting so you can learn the business side of things.

Who do you admire in the industry and why?

Oh, man! That’s akin to asking me who my favorite child is! I can’t choose between my friends. That’s not fair!

I will tell you this: I am following every word that Adam Grant writes right now. The way he thinks about human psychology and how it applies to our jobs fascinates me.

Lastly, you're an avid cyclist, what's your favorite cycling trail?

I’ve done so many rides all over the world that it’s hard to choose just one. I once rode Ride the Rockies, which is a six-day ride that crosses Colorado and climbs several 14ers. Right before the pandemic, I did a 400 mile ride in just a little more than 28 hours (exhausting!). But I live in Chicago and we have the most amazing lakefront trail. If you go out there at 5 a.m. during the summertime, no one else is out, the sun is rising, and you can ride as fast as you want without any interruption.

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