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Gini Dietrich

Arment Dietrich Is No Longer a PR Firm?

By: Gini Dietrich | January 4, 2010 | 
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I’ve written, and rewritten, this blog post in my head the past two months and, now that the time is here to announce our news, I don’t have the perfect post yet.

So…I’m just going to write it.

Arment Dietrich is no longer a PR firm.

Yes, I’m serious. We are no longer a PR firm.

So what happened? Well, a few things (including the economy), but the two big game changers were:

1. We had nearly half of our clients tell me at some point that they missed working with me on very strategic projects; and

2. I wasn’t enjoying my job anymore – the reason I started my own business was to do PR the way I thought it should be done and, instead, I was sucked into running a business and no longer doing what I loved.

I did some soul searching. What is it I love to do? Why do I get out of bed and come to work every day? The answers surprised me.

I love to write. I love to speak. And I love working with clients. Other than blog writing, I wasn’t doing any of those things.

So, in September, I began to test the waters. The speaking and working with clients starting picking up and, almost overnight, I was doing what I loved to do. And, through my speaking came writing inspiration and the ability to work with clients every day. But I didn’t have a business that supported this model.

It won’t come as a surprise to you, if you read this blog, that I’ve been solely focused on social media for the past 18 months. And it’s turning into something we can build a business around

As of today, Arment Dietrich allows me to write (with the goal of being published in the next 12 months), but it also allows us to build a business around speaking and coaching. Our focus is a bit different than most – we understand how online communication affects growth to the bottom line and we’ve created a process around how to make that happen for our clients. We now work with executives to incorporate online communication (right now it’s social media, but that will evolve) into their companies in order to: Build their communities, generate leads, cultivate those leads, and then convert those leads into sales/customers/clients for business growth.

Will we do some traditional PR as part of a bigger, overall plan? Sure. But if the majority of your program isn’t focused on digital communication, we’re not the right company for you. In most cases, we won’t do your online communication for you; we’ll help you incorporate it into your business so you eventually fly on your own.

Courtney Lawrence and Molli Megasko are here to help build this new business model. And, of course, we couldn’t do any of it without Patti Knight. Everyone else, though, has moved on to PR positions where they don’t have to change careers.

We are communicators, innovators, and thought leaders. Now we can officially claim our expertise goes beyond PR. But how do we encompass that into one quick answer when someone asks “What do you do?”

How would you answer that question if you were us?

About Gini Dietrich


Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

70 comments
Charlene Jaszewski
Charlene Jaszewski

Congrats Gini!
I haven't know you that long, but I already thought you were a social media firm! I guess all you need to change was your naming! So glad you are getting to do what you love!

Hollis Thomases
Hollis Thomases

Way to go, Gini!

What I still find surprising is that there still exists a line of distinction between "traditional PR firms" and "social media agencies." I keep wondering when the traditionalists are going to wake up and realize that they NEED to enter the digital age and develop these skills too...or perish.

I wish you nothing but the best as you pursue what set you on your entrepreneurial path in the first place!

Dana Hughens
Dana Hughens

Gini, you are amazing! And an inspiration!

This is exactly what I've been talking about as I'm starting my new agency. Self-proclaimed social networking experts are popping up all over the place. But do they know anything about business objectives? Executive leadership? Key messages? Understanding target audiences? I fear that most do not.

You are an expert in all of these things AND social networking. You are definitely addressing a need in the market. I'm sure you will continue to be wildly successful! As I start down the path of a new agency that is being built on blending traditional PR and social, I'll likely need to call on you for some advice!

Congratulations!

Davina K. Brewer
Davina K. Brewer

Gini- Sorry I didn't catch this one sooner. Wow, and congrats, glad you're making moves to make yourself happier (which should only make you more productive).

What's in a name? PR, Social Media, Marketing and Communications: as long as you're providing a valuable, rewarding service to clients i.e. getting the job DONE, the name doesn't matter.

Brigitte
Brigitte

Gini - Congratulations!! I think this is a perfect niche for your talents and interest.

I may be bucking the trend here, but I would steer away from using "communications" or another such generic term for this quite specialized business. My inclination is divided in two ways:

1. Use a widely understood term, such as digital communications (which you used in your post to describe the business) so potential clients "get it" quickly and easily. Your specialties and case studies will help you define the expertise further.

2. Create a catchy and fun name! You're in communications, after all. Something that'll get people talking. But this still has to be relatable enough that clients won't go, huh?

Regardless of what you do, there are thousands of "communications" firms and specialists. Your core strength is in relating what you do very well that's different than your competitors.

Edward M. Bury
Edward M. Bury

Bravo on this bold move forward. The definition of "public relations" and "public relations firms/agencies/professionals" has been debated and tossed around for decades. What is "pure" public relations anyway? At its essence is communicating and delivering a message to reach a goal. That message should be based on strategies built upon objectives delivered through tactics. This process will not and should not change, in my opinion. Why not call your new company a "strategic digital communications consultancy."

Kara Vanskike
Kara Vanskike

Congrats Gini! From what I know about you and your company, I think this is a great move. Your insight has helped me quite a bit the past couple months and I'm sure I'm not the only one who can say that. Best of luck to you in 2010!

Kat Jaibur
Kat Jaibur

Boy, oh boy, oh boy! I am so thrilled that you took the time to stop and assess what gets you jazzed. The courage to say that the path you and your company were on wasn't firing you up. And the willingness to let go of what you don't love so you can focus on what you do love. I wish I'd been your coach to support you on that! How fun that would have been! And I revel in your success at getting there however you did.

As for putting a label on it: What label existed for social media when it was just beginning? There was no label. Whatever you do will be a success, because that is who you are. And I'm proud and tickled to know you!

Steven Feiger
Steven Feiger

This is not a "going out of business" announcement but a re-birth announcement! Very exciting to start a new business, but more so when it is cutting edge! Enjoy the challange and the passion around doing the things that you love to do...
Steven

Michael Willits
Michael Willits

During my brief tenure at a large PR agency in NY, I can appreciate your rethinking of what you do. What is public relations if not working with clients as real people, rather than as businesses? Part of why I left was because the people aspect was lost in the shuffle of "doing" PR.

Best of luck to you and your staff!

Rob S
Rob S

Gini - Very courageous move. I think you're ahead of the curve in thinking. Traditional PR firms are encumbered by cost structures and employees that make rapidly changing a business model difficult.

The challenge I see (and have participated first hand in) is that you're trying to solve for two problems:
1. Create a market. Educate firms to why they need the new way of doing things.
2. Develop business.

Developing a new market is tough, and the risk is to sell services cheaply to build up a client base. From your writing and insight, I think you're wise enough to avoid that. It sounds like the structural changes to your business have been made, so you're in position.

You posed a question, "how would we explain this." I'd avoid the use of any technology or medium shifts. That's not the largest shift taking place in the space. New technologies will constantly emerge. The bigger shift is that consumers expect engagement with businesses, and your firm is helping build community and engagement. Technologies will help foster that, but low-tech ways are often as effective. If you're a local coffee shop, what better engagement than handouts and participation in neighborhood events?

Will be very interested to see how this works. I think it's the right direction. The industry will be there soon enough.

Good luck!

Marijean
Marijean

This is very exciting news! At our firm we've expanded our focus and for me, (and I think you and I are alike in our love of social media) the digital communications component has a much larger chunk of the business than any other discipline. We have rebranded ourselves as a reputation management firm. You may consider that as well.

Ces
Ces

Hey Gini! Happy for you in your transition, so will you be referred to as a Communication Firm?

Ces

brooke Beason (@brookebeason)
brooke Beason (@brookebeason)

Congratulations on this decision, Gini! You're a very talented individual, a thought leader and I see nothing but success for you & Arment Dietrich with this change! If you're ever in KC, let's do lunch!

Naomi Mimi
Naomi Mimi

Oh Gini! I'm so happy for you! I think you are amazing doing this. Best of luck.

Bob Reed
Bob Reed

Congrats, Gini! A bold move.

Since you're crowd-sourcing, here's my take: A D is a digital communications advocacy practice.

-Bob

jon wortmann
jon wortmann

Bottom line communication. You help clients create communication patterns that produce produce core business results.

Cindy Olivera
Cindy Olivera

Hi Gini,

Congratulations on the big news! You're definitely a go getter and I know that you'll be successful.

- Cindy

Scott Hepburn
Scott Hepburn

Good for you, Gini!

If you're a communications pro of any discipline -- PR, marketing, advertising, whatever -- and you haven't done some serious soul searching this year, you might want to look around. Our industries are changing. The old buckets we used to sort ourselves don't work anymore.

Life's too short to chase and maintain relationships, structures and habits that cut against our personal grains. Sinatra was on to something when he sang "I did it my way."

Congrats, Gini. Here's hoping we team up in 2010!

Joe Heidler
Joe Heidler

Way to go Gini! As I would expect from you, you are at the front of the curve. I can't wait to hear about all of the good things that are going to come from this for you in the upcoming year.
Congratulations.

Jack Perez
Jack Perez

Gini, Congrats! Sounds like you and I are having parallel epiphanies of a sort. Maybe we should have a chat to see if and how we might be helpful to one another's 'new' quests.

Best,
Jack

Deb Evans
Deb Evans

I feel like I'm the last to respond but not the last to know. As a client for the last two years I saw this coming and of course we discussed. Your skills and guidance set COMPUTER EXPLORERS and ME in the right direction using social media. I have always enjoyed working with your team but missed working directly with you! What you do you do exceptionally well. Keep it up and I look forward to another two years +

Craig (Bad Leader)
Craig (Bad Leader)

Gini,

Love it! Sounds like you are finding your passion and following it!

Best wishes in 2010. When you are doing what you enjoy, good things happen. :)

Craig

Kate Groom
Kate Groom

Congratulations on your bold move and what a wonderful start to the year.

This post tells in a few short paragraphs of your strength as a leader through your honesty and commitment to do what it takes to follow through on your passion. It shouts out 'Let's go!'.

I applaud you especially for thinking deeper than your 'trade' to get to what ignites you and then to seek ways to do that every day. It takes a lot of courage to dive that deep, yet this, perhaps, is what truly enables us to live with purpose and on purpose.

I'm looking forward to discovering more about your journey.

@kategroom

Gordon G. Miller III
Gordon G. Miller III

Wow! A guy takes a couple of weeks off and BANG! the whole world changes. Well, I can only offer my perspective from the standpoint of having overcome this same struggle 10-15 years ago. At that time we were an award winning internationally recognized "multimedia" company when it was as hot as "social media" is today. Same issue different buzz word. We recognized that technologies change and that no matter if it was multimedia or websites or social networking that it was no different than the telephone was 70 years before and realized that there were no college courses on how to use a telephone. So, we became focused on solving our clients problems. Now we focus on how we can save our clients $1 Million and for that ask for $100,000 of that savings. You have to be a "solution" provider and not focus on any one tool. G3.COM

Mimi Meredith
Mimi Meredith

With words of affirmation like this, who could ask for anything more. And I'd just be sure Harry is invited to all your pitches and parties!

Re: how to answer the "what do you do?" question...the answer would require you to hit the stop button on the elevator (wherever the one is that requires "the speech") and answer in response, "What do you need?" Really, it's not about tag lines, it's about conversations that have enough meaning to reveal mutual benefit. And even if you answer, what you do today may need to be something slightly different tomorrow...because that's just the kind of edgy, responsive and revolutionary kind of client-focused firm you've become.

What a great way to start the year! Or...as my friend Abbie said, "Holy Crap!" Small moves are for weanies! Bold moves are for mountain biking, recipe making forward thinking people unafraid to change the way business looks! Go Gini!

Lisa Buyer
Lisa Buyer

Hi Gini - That was the best post I have read in a log time, if I didn't know it was you, I would think it was me.We should connect when I am in Chicago or you are in Florida, but in the meantime, let's rock the online world together.
Lots of power to you!
@lisabuyer

Catherine Patterson
Catherine Patterson

I'm Ron Burgundy? lol. This is SMART. Congratulations to you and Arment Dietrich! Cheers to what 2010 will bring. How thrilling for you. Looking forward to seeing what you will accomplish, and as always, looking forward to continued awesome posts.

Roger Friedensen
Roger Friedensen

Gini -- This is TERRIFIC news!! I'm so glad to hear you're following your heart (and head) in your career. This is exceptionally exciting, and there's no doubt in my mind you and the team will scale the highest mountains and swim the deepest seas. Well, you'll be doing it from your iPhone or MBP, but hey, it still counts in my book.

Very much look forward to learning from you how to incorporate your wisdom and ideas into Forge Communications. Perhaps we can spend some time on Wave?

And finally, I couldn't agree more that just being a PR firm today ain't gonna cut it. To anyone who believes that, they should be prepared to be cut out.

Talk soon and mazel tov again!

Roger

@sixstringsnc
@forgecomm
www.blindingglimpse.wordpress.com
www.forgecommunications.com/blog

Alicia Lavire
Alicia Lavire

I would say, you're social media strategists who focus on results. Such big changes can be tumultuous and exciting at the same time. One thing is for sure—you'll never regret going after what you love and are most passionate about. All the best to you!

@alicialavire

Jack Monson
Jack Monson

Smart smart smart.
Perhaps your headline could read "no longer JUST a PR firm"...

@jackmonson

Deb Bruser
Deb Bruser

WOW!! I can't believe it took you such a long time to "push the publish button." Congratulations on following YOUR heart, Gini. Doesn't it feel great?? (now, if only you could incorporate cooking into the mix...LoL)

YOU are definitely awesometastic!!:-)

Phil Liebman
Phil Liebman

Nice move. A great way to lead in the New Year - and let go of the baggage that keeps us all taking care of the things we have acquired instead of the things we care most about. I look forward to continuing to read about what you have to say!

kamran popkin
kamran popkin

I know EXACTLY where you are with this, as I did a very similar switch a few years ago. It was painful, scary, and uber queasy- for awhile. But now, I am in my zone, following my bliss.
Janis Joplin said, mistakenly, imho, that 'Freedom's just another word for nothing else to loose.' She's wrong, in as much as freedom really comes from doing the kind of work you love to do. With the people you love doing it with.
And dat's what we wish for you. You can do this, your way.
Our best to Mr. Arment.

Robin Scott
Robin Scott

Congratulations Gini!
You've obviously put alot of time and thought into this decision and I admire you for realizing what you want to do and changing course. To me it sounds like an exciting and promising road to be on!
Good Luck!!

Jelena
Jelena

I would answer, "We communicate and we show others how to do so, authentically, effectively and without being confined to a single medium or paradigm."

PS. Is the new Arment Dietrich hiring? :)

Janet Fogarty
Janet Fogarty

Go, Gini, go!!!
We are in the business of cultivating online communication for bottom line growth.

David Griner
David Griner

Great post, Gini. Really appreciate how candid you are about following your heart while still being true to the mission of the company.

Can't wait to see where you go from here!

Phyllis Neill
Phyllis Neill

Congratulations on your exciting new journey. How very cool that you have been in tune enough with the marketplace to "hear" what they are screaming for help with (social media strategies, for one). I hope this new direction allows you to do more of what you love - because that's what's it's all about anyway!

Phyllis Neill
www.wementorsmm.com

Melanie Tolley
Melanie Tolley

Congratulations, Gini! I am going through some of the same contemplateion: what is it I do? So Martin Hall is on hiatus while I help out Joint Commission Resources for a while...

Love the blog. You will continue to do great work, as always.

Roger Wohlner
Roger Wohlner

Congratulations Gini. You are living what I tell my kids all of the time: life is way too short, find something that you are passionate about and excel at it. Your blog and Twitter updates have been helpful to me as I try to figure this whole social media thing out, I have no doubt that you and your firm will be widly successful as you move down this (sort of) new path.

Roger

Lois Arbogast
Lois Arbogast

Gini,

Congratulations! That's a huge and exciting step in such a positive direction. You may be waiting for the first "naysayer" to publish a comment, but I don't see it happening. This is where everything is going and you're leaps and bounds ahead. Keep on rocking and I look forward to your global domination soon. As for a company description....I'll get back to you.

Lois

Candice
Candice

Gini - as long as you are in your happy place the rest should follow.

I agree that the umbrella Communications probably covers it but whatever you do don't use the term Social Media expert. The term is so overused and what you are and what you do go so far beyond that!

-C

Laura Scholz
Laura Scholz

Gini, I've had a lot of similar thoughts about my business. So proud of you for having the guts to overhaul your business and follow your passion. Can't wait to watch this unfold!

Brad Farris
Brad Farris

Gini:

I have to echo Doug's comment. You've moved from the red ocean (PR) to the blue ocean of online strategy and communications. Well done! What your prospects (read "future clients" need to know is what's in it for them, and how does it make them more successful and their life easier.

Can't wait to see what this new chapter brings.

Brad

Karen Rocks
Karen Rocks

Gini,

Congrats on the new adventure! The best thing about having your own business is that you can control and shift your focus on what you want. Do what you love and the rest will follow.

Molly Block
Molly Block

Congratulations on your evolution, Gini and gang!

To sum up/describe your work: I'd say you are connectors (extraordinaire, of course).

--Molly
@mollyblock

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