Gini Dietrich

The PR Industry is Full of Spin Doctors and Liars

By: Gini Dietrich | December 6, 2016 | 
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The PR Industry is Full of Spin Doctors and LiarsOn the second day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you two lies told about the PR industry and a phrase to banish forever.

People ask me all the time where the name “Spin Sucks” comes from.

I always laugh and say, “When someone tells you they are in PR, what do you assume?”

And it’s always one of two things: They are a spin doctor or they lie for a living.

When, in fact—as you well know—it is neither of those things.

I won’t pretend there aren’t professionals or industries within the PR industry who do this.

It’s clear some do. And movies certainly give us a bad rap.

But most of us are doing very good, ethical work.

Hence, Spin Sucks.

And yet…those two lies are told about our industry every day and we don’t do anything to combat them.

Spin Doctors, Liars, and Blood-thirsty Sharks

In a recent TechCrunch article called, “Bad PR agencies can kill a startup before it has a chance to succeed,” the opening paragraph is:

Right now there’s a multi-million-dollar con being played on employees, investors, and founders of startup companies. A PR firm’s “services” involve a lot of smoke and mirrors that are designed to bilk startups.

Yes, that’s right.

The work you do is designed to bilk organizations. It’s all smoke and mirrors—a big con!

Give me a break.

The article goes on to describe how an agency works and makes it sound like we are ambulance chasers.

The minute a startup receives a new round of funding, it’s like blood in the water—PR agencies start circling the water to get the opportunity to take a chunk of flesh right out of them.

So now the PR industry is full of spin doctors, liars, and blood-thirsty sharks.

Media Relations is Not a Strategy

The problem, of course, is there are PR agencies that behave this way.

The author of the article describes his experience of working with a PR agency—and it doesn’t sound all that untruthful.

  • An agency does need ramp-up time when they begin working with a new client.
  • They do need time to figure out what the story is.
  • It does take time to make phone calls, send tweets, deliver emails, and get stories placed.
  • Many agencies are staffed with junior employees who do this work.
  • Unfortunately, some agencies will do pay-for-play just to get stories placed.

And guess what? That all costs money. Because we sell our brains for a living.

So yes, if you look at the overall picture of the article, to get media relations started and begin to see results, it could cost $40,000 or more.

But this is why I hate media relations-only programs.

Media relations is not a strategy; it’s a tactic.

Yet, many organizational leaders hire PR agencies just to place stories.

It’s wrong for leaders to hire that way and it’s wrong for the PR agencies to accept that work.

Instead, we should be selling a fully integrated PESO model approach.

And, if a prospect only wants the E of your approach (earned media), you have to be able to walk away.

Let’s Change the Perception People Have of the PR Industry

The vision of Spin Sucks is to change the perception people have of the PR industry.

I know that’s a big one—and it may never happen in my lifetime—but that’s why it’s a vision.

The best way we can change our reputation and change that perception, is to measure the work we do.

I know, I know. I sound like a broken record.

But, it’s true.

Sell only a fully integrated PESO model approach.

Figure out how to set your goals so your PR metrics mean something.

We will do great work, we will measure our efforts—which will prove we can drive sales—and we will do PR for the entire PR industry.

That is how we will change the perception people have of the PR industry.

And, if you need help, want to brainstorm, need to kick a few tires before presenting to your executive team or board, or just want to hang out with like-minded colleagues, you can do that in our newly-created Slack community.

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, the lead blogger at Spin Sucks, and the host of Spin Sucks the podcast. She also is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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