Gini Dietrich

Trust Me I’m Lying: How One Person is Hurting an Entire Industry

By: Gini Dietrich | July 23, 2012 | 
242

Last week, some news came to a head. Some very disappointing news that makes me really wonder about people.

A new author, Ryan Holiday, has written a book called, “Trust Me, I’m Lying.” And, with it, a gaggle of blog posts and articles are coming out about how reporters and bloggers have been duped by the 25-year-old claiming to be a PR professional, but who is instead a “media manipulator.”

Let’s Start from the Beginning

I don’t disagree with the premise of his thinking. He says journalists and bloggers are manipulated because of the 24/7 news cycle, which doesn’t allow for fact checking and source investigating that it did of the past.

In a recent Forbes article, he wrote:

At top of the pantheon of the media manipulators, of course, sits the late Andrew Brietbart. “Feeding the media is like training a dog,” he once said, “You can’t throw an entire steak at a dog to train it to sit. You have to give it little bits of steak over and over again until it learns.” And learned it did: they followed his lead exactly in the Shirley Sherrod story, and continue to fall for the manipulations of his student, James O’Keefe, who has ravaged NPR, ACORN, and many other liberal organizations.

And then you have influential bloggers, such as Michael Arrington, founder and former editor of TechCrunch, who once said, “Getting it right is expensive, getting it first is cheap.”

Things are now written and published based on – what I call ego-driven metrics – pageviews and number of clicks, regardless of it being right or not.

It’s easy to get sucked into those metrics. After all, organizations are getting funding and making money based on eyeballs. And they feel good. Really good.

But that Doesn’t Make it Right

Along the way, he began to use Help a Reporter Out (HARO), the brain child of Peter Shankman (who later sold it to Vocus).

HARO is a free service that puts sources in touch with media outlets. A journalist or blogger sends a query and people who have expertise on that topic email back.

Holiday decided to respond to each and every query he got, whether or not he knew anything about the topic. Nor did he do it alone. He enlisted an assistant to use his name in order to field as many requests as humanly possible.

He expected it to take a few months of meticulous navigation, but he found himself with more requests than he could handle in a matter of weeks.

According to the Forbes article,

On Reuters, he became the poster child for “Generation Yikes.” On ABC News, he was one of a new breed of long-suffering insomniacs. At CBShe made up an embarrassing office story, at MSNBC he pretended someone sneezed on him while working at Burger King. At Manitouboats.com, he offered helpful tips for winterizing your boat. The capstone came in the form of a New York Times piece on vinyl records.

But he’s an expert on none of these things and, in fact, doesn’t suffer from insomnia or collect vinyl records.

Spin Sucks

This guy is neither a PR professional or a communicator.

He is a liar.

In his own words:

I am a media manipulator. My job is to use the media to make people do or think things they otherwise would not. People like me are there, behind the curtain, pulling the puppet strings.

Yes, the 24/7 news cycle is a beast. Yes, there are free services, like HARO, that make it easier for journalists to source their stories without a ton of elbow grease. Yes, deadlines make it harder and harder to fact check and get it right.

But it’s still the job of the journalist or blogger to do exactly that and use services, such as HARO, as a starting point. And it’s the job of the PR professional to be ethical, not lie, or “pull puppet strings.”

Our industry is not regulated by a governing body so it’s up to us to self-police. Do we really want to be known as liars? Or will you join me in being ethical and shouting from the rooftops, “Spin Sucks!!”?

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.

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242 Comments on "Trust Me I’m Lying: How One Person is Hurting an Entire Industry"

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jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

A-freakin’-men. #thatisall

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski The more I read, the more pissed off I got. What is wrong with people?

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich Quite a bit, it seems. 😉 

JustInTheSouth
4 years 3 days ago

 “Spin Sucks!!”
 
I am afraid there will always be people among us. But I like that you are calling them out. We need more people like you.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @JustInTheSouth The fact of the matter remains that people like this are few and far between, but he’s gotten A TON of media attention and written a ton of stories about how to manipulate the media…all because they get lots of traffic and social shares. It hurts an entire industry.

JustInTheSouth
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  I could agree with that. They do get too much attention which is why it can be a tough decision on calling them out or ignoring them. So, this format is best for both exposing him and keeping the industry honest.
 
It still is messed-up that he would openly admit “People like me are there, behind the curtain, pulling the puppet strings.”

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @JustInTheSouth  @ginidietrich This dude was hired by Tucker Max as his publicist. He’s had some pretty big name celebrity clients and he’s been successful on their behalf.
 
But what he is most certainly not doing is PR. 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @JustInTheSouth Publicity is not PR, but it seems celebrity publicity is far different than the media relations we know.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @JustInTheSouth THIS. 
 

Ike
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich @jasonkonopinski @JustInTheSouth “Publicity is not PR” was in my reply to Ryan’s ‘apology’ on Peter’s post. It’s about as thorough a takedown on that weasel as I could manage.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @Ike  @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski  @JustInTheSouth And it was brilliant. 🙂 
 

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago
 @JustInTheSouth  @ginidietrich I’d like to think they are few and far between, but when you think about how many people there are in the U.S. alone, operating under the banner of PR, from the largest agencies, down to some of the smallest one-person operations, I’d bet there are lot of folks out there doing this, though perhaps not as boldly or blatantly. Throw a little half-truth in here, fudge a little there, and think that it doesn’t really matter. And it works, so you do it again, because after all, you say, what harm did it really do?   I just have… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @Ike  I personally loved the rewrite you did of his comment. 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller  It is … but not among the masses. When a large agency was found out about their whisper campaigns, things were done about it. It’s not the norm.

adamtoporek
4 years 3 days ago

I think the sub-headline is how the current environment allowed him to con so many so fast. A good con artist will adapt to any environment — look at what happened at the New Republic back in the Nineties — but nowadays it’s just so easy.
 
At least we have Spin Sucks to brandish the sword of PR righteousness.  🙂

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @adamtoporek I’m not sure it’s the fault of the journalists he duped. Yes, they could have done better fact checking, but his day job provides some credibility and, according to some, he talked like the other (real) sources so they had no reason not to believe him. The best thing that can happen now is places like Forbes and Fast Company take him off their contributor list.

rdopping
rdopping
4 years 3 days ago

Good to know. Is it not inevitable that this is the way things will go? As much as we want this not to happen it will certainly continue. It’s good that we have places like this to come to where we know the “spin” is left at the door. Whew!

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @rdopping Everything will be gamed. Everything. But that doesn’t make it right.

rdopping
rdopping
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich No it does not. Here’s to “keeping it real!” See you Thursday….

swagclub
4 years 3 days ago

As someone in a deservedly black eyed industry, I feel your pain. Yes, ideally there are honourable people doing good work and making good decisions. Raising the bar for everyone.

But, a cautionary tale like this could and should provoke the kinda reaction that helps polarize your tribe against it. Just as seeing the patent malpractice committed in my industry by #kooziemongercorporateassclowndouchecanoecatalogcarpetbombinggladhandhashtagjackingcreepystalkersweatervestguys helps inspire us to not be THAT guy.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @swagclub LOL! That is the longest hashtag I have ever seen. Nicely played, sir. Nicely played!

MightyCaseyMedia
4 years 3 days ago
Many years ago, as I joined the ranks of news hounds as a dewy young net news geek, the 24hr news cycle was just getting started. In the years since, as one of my least fave words *ever* – infotainment – as become lingua franca in even the most hallowed of newsrooms, the entire industry has collapsed in on itself.  Spin does indeed suck, but there are so very many outlets willing to plug spin in to a reallyreally big amplifier, I don’t know that the industry – news *or* PR – is salvageable. And we’re not teaching critical thinking… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @MightyCaseyMedia Well, I’m certainly trying to do my part. I get it. I do. The ego-driven metrics are hard to ignore. Especially when companies like Twitter are getting a gazillion dollars for their eyeballs and no revenue model. And Arrington made $25 million on his “get there first” mentality. But that doesn’t make it right and we need to stop rewarding that behavior.

MightyCaseyMedia
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich I’d personally love to clone you and have you in every mass comm/J-school course catalog from sea to shining sea, and beyond. When you DO speak to college/early-career audiences, do you sense that they get the issue, or that they care at all? My fear is that my generation has raised a generation of ego-driven narcissists …

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @MightyCaseyMedia When I speak to classrooms, I sense a huge sense of naivety. I’ve never brought this particular thing up (though I will from now on), but I do find they are naive when it comes to the types of things they post online and how it can hurt their job prospects.

MightyCaseyMedia
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich Teach them to always check sources, or to always be a *truthful* source. I have a fervent hope that this Holiday d-bag will become a cautionary tale, but I simultaneously worry that the gamification-of-everything will make people think that spin-gaming like this is outstanding …

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago
I’d love to know more about his background, and particularly where he went to school and what he studied.    One of my concerns is what PR students are being taught in class. I recently spoke with a PR major in college who was telling me about some of his classes, and the word “spin” was used often, as if the idea was just assumed that you’re going to “bend” the truth in order to get the job done. This really worries me. I’d like to assume that most college PR programs aren’t going to do this, but I have… Read more »
jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller University of California – Riverside. B.S. in Political Science, at least according to his CrunchBase bio.
 
http://www.crunchbase.com/person/ryan-holiday

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski ah, and now we know what the BS stands for.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller  @jasonkonopinski LOL!

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @KenMueller Whoa. Whoa. I thought he dropped out of school to work under Tucker Max? I don’t think he actually got a degree.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @KenMueller You know, you might be right. @blogcastfm did an interview with him last week. I’ll have to go back and check. 
 
And while I don’t approve of his tactics, I will say that he’s doing pretty darn well for himself at 25. 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski  @KenMueller Until now. I hope the big media outlets remove him from their contributor list. I think he just shot himself in the foot.

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @jasonkonopinski Of course, no matter what his bio/resume says, we can’t believe that either. 

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @KenMueller He may well have shot himself in the foot. Only time will tell. That said, he’s the Director of Marketing for American Apparel at present and he clearly understands how to be controversial in his campaigns. On that alone, I’m sure that some big brand will roll the dice on him when he leaves that post. 
 
I certainly don’t have any love for the guy, but I can’t ignore what he’s managed to achieve for his publicity clients (Tucker Max, et al).

TheJackB
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski And everyone knows that only young people understand how to use social media. Oops, wrong discussion. 😉

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @TheJackB Oh – don’t get me started on that idiocy. 🙂 

josefrivera
josefrivera
4 years 3 days ago
This is something that while it is disturbing, I cant really argue against his logic…just his methods.  Its like a hacker who finds vulnerabilities in a company and then goes and shows them the holes and offers his services to plug them up.  While its not completely ethical, in a 24/7 news cycle when its a breaking story that can put thousands of “eyes” and page view hits on a site, sometimes “due Diligence” lacks behind profit.   Thanks for the eye opener, I think this is a very important article for anyone in news, and at that being a… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @josefrivera Yeah, like I said I don’t disagree with his idea that media is out for pageviews and clicks. But I do disagree with the idea of manipulating media to get what you want. It does the entire industry a HUGE disservice.

josefrivera
josefrivera
4 years 3 days ago
 @ginidietrich But isnt the job of the citizenship to question media, and what happens in an environment where you are not allowed to question the media, and you are not given a platform that is as available as the internet for those without the monetary means?  I look at this something like guerilla warfare, when you dont have the money to buy airtime to state your case, and the industry itself is more focused on the profit and not the message, what can you do.   I mean look at that first episode of that Jeff Daniels show, Newsroom, it clearly… Read more »
TheJackB
4 years 3 days ago

 @josefrivera Newsroom is a television show. I don’t know that we can say it clearly demonstrates anything other than Aaron Sorkin has enough juice to have his fiction placed on television.

HeatherTweedy
4 years 3 days ago

 @TheJackB  @josefrivera It is great fiction though.  

josefrivera
josefrivera
4 years 3 days ago
 @TheJackB Newsroom as a meter for society as that is what entertainment is in a sociological context, tells what what is acceptable and what society will tolerate, and it seems that the tide may be turning, but my point in mentioning this was that there was a reaction from the media industry itself to itself for something like this to come into being.  I am looking at the overall societal trends, and one is that we are tired of being lied to, and the other is we are tired of the liars.  But we have not had the means to wage… Read more »
RebeccaTodd
4 years 3 days ago

Wow.  I can’t help but believe that there are more sociopaths in our ranks than we would have thought. I recently engaged Ali Velshi in conversation after he reported that Obamacare had been overturned.  Apparently fact checking is obsolete, even if you work at CNN. 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @RebeccaTodd Uh…yeah. There was that whole debacle. Even the Sun-Times ran that story. Terrible.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@katemhamilton I liked your blog post about the NextGen article.

katemhamilton
katemhamilton
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich thank you and thanks for commenting!

faybiz
4 years 3 days ago

Devil’s advocate here… he ADMITS what he is… I fail to see how he is damaging the the PR industry…
You have WAY TOO MANY examples of  “legit” folks doing what he does doing infinitely more damage in that he doesn’t claim to be “legit”

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago
 @faybiz I think there are a few things at play here. First off, the general public doesn’t think the way we think. They aren’t insiders who think about who is doing this. So in the general public’s mind, it isn’t that Ryan Holiday is doing this, it’s just that they’ve been duped, and there are one of two reactions.   First reaction is: we’ve been duped by another PR person. This proves that the PR industry is a bunch of scammers and manipulators.    Second reaction: and possibly more dangerous, is the thinking that, well, this is business as usual and… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller  @faybiz What Ken said. The reason we named this blog Spin Sucks is because I HATE it when I tell people what I do for a living and their first response is, “Oh you lie.” Or “Oh you’re a truth spinner.” Both of those could not be further from the truth, but that’s the perception. And it’s people like this that perpetuate that perception.

faybiz
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @KenMueller I dunno… he shows how you can game the media… and admits he is…
it shows the media to be sheep and/or worse…
if the base line public already see it that way, I fail to see how it makes it much worse… (doesn’t help)
but in my mind, when the public sees a “legit” firm doing something shady like what he does, it has to be worse… because they are saying “hey, we wouldn’t lie… would we?”

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

 @faybiz  @ginidietrich I guess my point is that we are insiders. I know this and you know this, but the general public doesn’t differentiate. PR is PR is PR as far as most people are concerned. Most people wouldn’t know a “legit” firm from a guy like this. So it just perpetuates the overall perception.

Frank_Strong
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller  Exactly. 

rdopping
rdopping
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller  @faybiz  @ginidietrich I hate to say it but that is the case for most industries. An architect is an architect is an architect. Hardly, but who (other than insiders) can really discern the difference? 
 
BTW, isn’t that why they call it spin (even tho it sucks)? Are you going to turn down a gig when it feels like you have to PR some touchy issue? Tricky subject for me because I am one of those considered in the “general public.”

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago
 @rdopping  @faybiz  @ginidietrich Well, for me, I’m not in PR per se, more on the straight marketing/communications side of things, though they do overlap a lot. But I turn down clients all the time. I have certain business categories that are verboten for me. For instance, I won’t work with any politicians or strictly political organizations. And if it’s a non-profit, it has to be a cause that I can support.    For me, though, it’s less about the controversy-factor, than it is about me being able to stand behind the brand and the integrity of the people behind the brand. I just… Read more »
ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@Rieva I miss you!

Rieva
Rieva
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich likewise. Wish I were coming to Chicago this year

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@Rieva I wish you were, too!

Rieva
Rieva
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich sigh! hoopefully next year.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@alisonlaw Thanks Alison!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@adamtoporek It truly makes me want to cry.

adamtoporek
adamtoporek
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich That’s because you care — which is a good thing.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@MervynDinnen Hey Mervyn! How are you??

MervynDinnen
MervynDinnen
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich I’m good Gini, how are you?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@MervynDinnen Pretty good!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@mediaphyter Sigh…

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

You know what would make an interesting conversation? Putting Ryan Holiday’s about media “manipulation” opposite dmscott  and “Newsjacking”.  Discuss. 

Frank_Strong
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski  dmscott Not the same.  Not even close.  There’s a difference between tying into trends and making one up.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @Frank_Strong  dmscott Oh I know. I was just being provocative. 🙂 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @Frank_Strong  @jasonkonopinski  And lying about your “expertise.”

davidmeermanscott
davidmeermanscott
4 years 3 days ago

 @Frank_Strong Thanks Frank & Jason. While it would be fun to debate, they are different things. 

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @davidmeermanscott  @Frank_Strong Indeed they are! Cheers David. 

martinwaxman
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski  dmscott @ginidietrich – Interesting idea. This is the lowest form of publicity – hucksterism based on a practical joke/lie.  People have been doing that for a long time – but the good ones do it with a point and a smile.  This seems like someone who just wanted to boost his profile (and he did). Just because you say something provocative, doesn’t mean you have something of value to day.  Really enjoyed the post, btw.

FranchiseKing
4 years 3 days ago

Gini!
 
So, your book is selling well? (Yiddish voice)
 
I have an idea; let’s stop talking about this dude.
 
Free PR for him is damaging to the industry, too.
 
He’ll be a nobody soon, anyway. Let’s help him get there by not talking about him from this day forth 🙂
 
Love,
Joel 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @FranchiseKing This is perfect fodder for Spin Sucks because it’s important people understand what’s going on in the world. Lots and lots of business owners read this blog and don’t follow these kinds of stories. I feel it’s our job to let them know there are con artists out there who can scam them into paying lots of money for doing unethical things. After all, stopping this behavior and changing the perception of the PR industry is what this blog is all about.

FranchiseKing
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich Totally agree. Stick to your mission. Maybe if your blog wasn’t so well read…
 
Great job on this. I just wish the dude wouldn’t get his name plastered all over the place.
 
Probably encourages him.
 
JL

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @FranchiseKing I hope it takes him down…hopefully the big media outlets no longer allow him to contribute anything.

AverageWomanSJ
AverageWomanSJ
4 years 3 days ago

Spin Sucks!!!
 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @AverageWomanSJ Thank you!

dmscott
dmscott
4 years 3 days ago

@jasonkonopinski Thanks, interesting. I just commented.

SociallyGenius
4 years 3 days ago

Don’t trust me, I’m telling the truth – The media puppet masters have been doing this for decades. Haven’t you seen The Truman Show? That’s why there’s such a need for good conspiracy theorists. News, unfortunately, has become a mix of real events and entertaining realistic looking scenarios.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @SociallyGenius Or Wag the Dog?

wabbitoid
4 years 3 days ago
“Content is King” Yeah, right.  Some of the comments here tie this into trendy nonsense (a certain family whose name starts with K comes to mind) and I agree completely.  The pressure to create quantity of content, some of which is “nooze”, has been sorely working against quality generally.  This is only one symptom of the problem, IMHO. As a person who attempts to create quality content for both myself and my clients I find that I am being appreciated a tiny bit more every day.  That makes me feel good.  But it’s still a tough battle to fight.  Until… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @wabbitoid Just like racy headlines or controversial content creates pageviews and social shares…this stuff will continue to happen because people are focused on the metrics that make them feel good instead of those that drive business results.

HeatherTweedy
4 years 3 days ago
While I agree that this kid isn’t a very good person, his actions do help publicize a much bigger problem and that’s the fact that he could lie to these institutions.     It’s horrifying to think that so many news organizations were so lazy as to let him become a defacto expert without any verification.    Let’s be honest, news has gotten so lazy that even veterans are calling rumors “good enough”. Just look at how the Aurora shooting was attached to the Tea Party because a guy with the same name was a member.  An ABC News Chief couldn’t… Read more »
Frank_Strong
4 years 3 days ago

 @HeatherTweedy The biggest thing that bothers me:  lying was a tool to promote a book.  He’s not making a point, he’s manipulating people — you and me included — to sell a book.  

HeatherTweedy
4 years 3 days ago
 @Frank_Strong It doesn’t matter if he was trying to make a point.  It matters that a point is made.  The media is at least as culpable as this kid and his ability to commit these frauds is not his fault alone.   Sure what he did is reprehensible, but it does point to a much larger issue.  While there may be a handful of guys like this acting like PR pros, his widespread success points to an epidemic problem with those who are supposed to hold and protect the trust of the American people.  The 4th Estate is burning itself to the ground… Read more »
Frank_Strong
4 years 3 days ago

 @HeatherTweedy I guess, I just don’t see it that way, Heather.  Lying about trivial anecdotes — things that would be ridiculously time consuming to fact check — isn’t making a point. 

HeatherTweedy
4 years 3 days ago

 @Frank_Strong Fair point

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago
 @HeatherTweedy Oh don’t get me started on the NCAA.    Here’s the issue I have with this whole thing. His so-called experiment with HARO. He emailed (and his assistant emailed) every reporter that queried something. He became an “expert” on vinyl records collecting and insomnia. From what I’ve read, he came across as credible (if not more) than the other sources. He has an impressive job title and, if you Googled him before the past week, you’d see he’s written for some pretty impressive media outlets. So why is the media culpable, in this instance?   I don’t disagree they need… Read more »
kaitlinmaud
kaitlinmaud
4 years 3 days ago

@CristerDelacruz I disagree. That one person isn’t hurting the industry just because he exposed a weakness. The industry is hurting itself

KurtScholle
KurtScholle
4 years 3 days ago

Kinda makes you wonder how many other guys like this are lurking out there.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @KurtScholle Unfortunately, probably too many. And it disturbs me that there will be people who emulate this in a hurry to get rich quick.

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

By the way, I suppose I should use this opportunity to confess that I’m not who you think I am. I’m really Robert Downey Junior…

TheJackB
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller Yeah, and I am Dear Abby.

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

 @TheJackB You are? Wow. Well in that case, let me tell you about my Mother-in-law, and see if you can help me.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @TheJackB  You totally are Dear Abby.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @KenMueller You are?!? We’ve known each other all along?

KenMueller
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich Yeah. We have. So be gentle when we meet. You know, in Toronto.

jonmikelbailey
4 years 3 days ago

Given the right amount of charm and ambition, I think anyone could game the system for at least a little while. The beauty of a free (or relatively free Country) is that eventually liars are called out. But, I agree that it is up to the professionals as well to make sure they get the facts straight. Either that or it isn’t. Definitely one of those two. And Ken can’t be Robert Downey, Jr. because I am!

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jonmikelbailey I have some charm and a TON of ambition, but you don’t see me gaming the system. My brain doesn’t work that way. If it did, I would join Anonymous to poke holes in “secure” systems.

jonmikelbailey
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich I didn’t say that if you have charm and ambition that you should game the system or that gaming the system was an inevitability. With great charm and ambition comes great responsibility – like making sure you wear comfortable but stylish shoes.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jonmikelbailey Who said anything about comfortable shoes? If they look good, who cares if they’re comfortable?

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jonmikelbailey And P.S. If you’re RDJ, you know what that means?

jonmikelbailey
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich What? That my dad’s name is Bob? Well, it is!

jeffespo
jeffespo
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich that image makes my eyes bleed…

jackielamp
jackielamp
4 years 3 days ago

The worst thing about this is that it made me wonder if the joke’s on me for believing in ethics and following them. Really, I thought, “Am I the naive one here? Clearly what this guy is doing actually worked for him.” So I’m glad people who have been in the industry much longer are saying that this is not typical or acceptable behavior. It’s sad, really. We take one step forward and someone like this puts us about 10 more steps back.

jeffespo
4 years 3 days ago
 @jackielamp I would say no. The guy is a dick trying to prove a point to sell more books. Kind of like the Jay Sherman doll in the Critic “buy my book… buy my book.” Ethics and morals are what make folks good at their jobs, however the stress on newsrooms can lead to problems like this. Right now there are so many user-generated/blogger posts on well-respected news outlets that can really damn things without fact checks like this whole piece. The larger question at hand is how do we go about fixing it? I would think that he gave some pretty… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jeffespo  I can’t imagine anyone reading this blog post will buy his book. 

jeffespo
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich you never know. But the asshat subscribes to the any publicity is good publicity kind of thing and idiots do believe that…
 
Not that I do or anything… and you know I can’t read… remember my pop-up marketing in the round?

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jeffespo Oh yeah…only visuals for you. Like the one used in this blog post.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @jackielamp I’m with you – I realize it’s naive of me to think everyone will behave ethically. I will be really disappointed if he isn’t pulled from the big magazine sites. That’s the only real way to punish him.

KristK
KristK
4 years 3 days ago

Shouting from rooftop: Ethics do matter and SPIN SUCKS! How one man’s lies affect all journalists, PR per @ginidietrich http://t.co/kX8XPLS0

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@KristK Thank you!

flemingsean
flemingsean
4 years 3 days ago
This is a great piece.   The key thing here, imo, is that the responsibility lies with the journalist (and/or blogger) to check their facts. To an extent, I expect amateur bloggers not to understand that concept. But journalists, or those writing for commercially-run blogs, have nowhere to hide on this one.   Check your facts. Do not run with a single-sourced story. Ask questions. Be wary… the source feeding information to you has an agenda. They always do.    Hard work and professional persistence are the things that separate the good from the great in journalism.   As for… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @flemingsean Totally agree with you, Sean. I had trouble putting my thoughts together initially because I agree with his premise that our 24/7 news cycle that cares about shares and clicks is creating something that isn’t reliable and credible. But there is only thing we can change…and that’s how we behave in that kind of industry. Perhaps it’s our jobs, as communications professionals, to not manipulate the media, but to provide them with as much fact-driven data as we can find on the topic.

bdorman264
4 years 3 days ago

But I always do check with me when I’m writing a post about myself; which I’m prone to do quite often. Ok, ok, I might embellish the stories at times so people will think I’m way better looking or cooler than I really am, but the basic premise is still the truth. 
 
It’s lazy at best and it certainly isn’t right and even though we should care, how many people really do? Is this another example of where the line has been moved so far that what is now acceptable looks ugly indeed…..but it’s the new norm? 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @bdorman264 If this is the new norm, I’m quitting my job and writing fiction full-time. At least then I won’t be disappointed by all the liars.
 
But…you don’t have to embellish about how good looking you are.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @bdorman264 I got banned from commenting at mashable because I would challenge their non-facts with the real facts.

Billy_Delaney
Billy_Delaney
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich lead on my dear. We will follow… spin sucks.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@Billy_Delaney Thank you!

Billy_Delaney
Billy_Delaney
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich worthy :))

belllindsay
belllindsay
4 years 3 days ago

What a complete and utter jerkwad. While I agree with @seanfleming that journos have a responsibility to check sources, etc., it boggles the mind that nowadays we all need to be so incredibly cynical and untrusting as to think the worst of everything we read and everybody we connect with, personally, professionally or otherwise. Coming from TV land, sometimes crap happens and erroneous information makes it to air (hey, journalists are human too!) – but this story – this deliberate ruse to prove some self-serving point – really makes me sick. 

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @belllindsay  Oh you should see all the links. I had something like 20 tabs open while I was reading about it to write this blog post. On one hand, I completely see his point about not doing your due diligence. But it astounds me people not only manipulate for a living, but come out and say the do. AND, when they write about it, people in the comments are asking for advice on how they can do the same. I know it’s naive of me to think everyone is good and ethical, but still.
 
Also. Three more sleeps.

jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @belllindsay @justinthesouth You aren’t permitted to have fun without me in TO. <grumble, grumble>

HowieSPM
4 years 3 days ago

 @jasonkonopinski @belllindsay @justinthesouth @ginidietrich recent study said 98% of people do not trust what they see on the web. Kind of there goes klout and social influence right?

belllindsay
belllindsay
4 years 3 days ago

 @HowieSPM  @jasonkonopinski  @justinthesouth  @ginidietrich  I have no clue whether you are being serious or not. 😉
 

belllindsay
belllindsay
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich WHEEEEEEEE!!!!! 😀 

AmyMccTobin
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich He is an ASS.  Sure, the press is often manipulated, but doing it intentionally and then basking in glow of the fire he started is disgusting.  Is this really “Forbes-worthy?”

ChelseaOrcutt
ChelseaOrcutt
4 years 3 days ago

@KellyLux @jdross I just started reading this book! Interesting perspective, but it’s a bit infuriating. Def. not #PR I’d like to emulate.

jdross
jdross
4 years 3 days ago

@ChelseaOrcutt @kellylux Thanks for recommendation – will have to check it out.

hackmanj
4 years 3 days ago

I am glad you wrote about this Gini, I knew you would have something to say and the community here at Spinsucks as well. This is the selfish, unethical and un-sustainable approach to business. What I often wonder is if these people ever have any remorse for their decision to put their ego/profit above the quality of their character.
 
As to the issue of self policing, I think it’s really happening and happening right now.

laurenboyer
laurenboyer
4 years 3 days ago

@jasonkonopinski @jsprenk is this a true story? #want

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

@laurenboyer @jsprenk Is what a true story? That Ryan Holiday posed as an “expert” in countless HARO inquiries? Absolutely.

laurenboyer
laurenboyer
4 years 3 days ago

@jasonkonopinski @jsprenk omg. Crazy. Wrong on so many levels, but totally intriguing

laurenboyer
laurenboyer
4 years 3 days ago

@jasonkonopinski This is my fave book I’ve read recently: http://t.co/XxN0oyg9

jasonkonopinski
jasonkonopinski
4 years 3 days ago

@laurenboyer You need to chat with Bill Swartz about Finkel. Knows him personally.

laurenboyer
laurenboyer
4 years 3 days ago

@jasonkonopinski sooo cool. That’s one of my favorite books in general. Such a weird chain of events

Shonali
4 years 3 days ago

Shattered Glass all over again, right? Except this time it’s our business. And he’s making a boatload of money doing it. Gah.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @Shonali That’s what concerns me…people will see what he’s “accomplished” and want to emulate him.

EricaAllison
4 years 2 days ago
 @ginidietrich And THAT makes me mad! I’m seeing distinct camps forming in the blogosphere (yes, soulati , even though I don’t write, I do read) that either love this guy’s approach and think it’s the new way of doing PR and manipulating the media or they think he’s disgusting (like moi – put it on my biz FB page last week saying so).  What happens next is that we have clients coming to us saying let’s do that manipulation thing. No, thanks. I’ll stick to good ol’ honest, strategic, thoughtful PR and marketing that doesn’t game the system or try to hoodwink… Read more »
EricaAllison
4 years 2 days ago

 @ginidietrich  I’m so mad, my grammar is suffering!

Erin F.
4 years 2 days ago

 @EricaAllison  @ginidietrich I was just reading the article. I think he convinces a lot of people because he’s well-written, and he formulates his argument well.There are some interesting conversations happening on Facebook in regard to the article and his actions. I decided to join one conversation and may live to regret it.

ginidietrich
4 years 2 days ago

 @Erin F.  @EricaAllison Yes…and he wrote a post on his own blog where he called me entitled and lazy. He also thinks he and I have the same views, which he’s clearly mistaken about. I believe spin sucks and am fighting to abolish it and, well, he is not.
 
What really bothers me are the conversations happening on FB. There are people who really think being good and nice and ethical will only make you mediocre. 

Erin F.
4 years 2 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @EricaAllison You must have seen some of the same conversation threads that I did. They make me sad.

EricaAllison
4 years 2 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @Erin F. Saw that thread and am disappointed beyond measure. Just wrote a blog post/rant about the state of affairs.
 

Erin F.
4 years 2 days ago

 @EricaAllison  @ginidietrich Maybe I should have been more opinionated in my own response, but I didn’t want to get into a fight on Facebook. Maybe that’s what being nice gets you – a check against saying whatever you want whenever and however you want. I guess I was hoping to create a dialogue, too, but I probably didn’t do a good job of it. Maybe I’ll write a blog post, too.

Thabo99
Thabo99
4 years 3 days ago

Media easy to fool RT @johnhaydon How One Person is Hurting an Entire Industry by @SpinSucks http://t.co/Rp3J1ZxZ

trackback

[…] tone that makes us proud to be in the communications business, rather than being embarrassed by the likes of Ryan Holiday, the lying jerk and “media manipulator.” The letter is non-threatening, helpful, […]

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@jckreidel LOL!! That’s something I would say…my butt.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@CristerDelacruz xoxo

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@acraKA Right?

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@John_Trader1 It makes me sad.

John_Trader1
John_Trader1
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich It’s the kind of sad that doesn’t sit well either. Sort of like a festering wound that won’t heal. Shocked by the article.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@John_Trader1 I know. 🙁

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@randypitler And gets away with it. Sigh.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@vedo I was thinking about you while I rode my bike yesterday. No clue why…you just popped into my brain

vedo
vedo
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich well then I hope it was a good bike ride 🙂
Btw, sorry we couldn’t get the DFW swing worked out for your book tour.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@vedo Nothing to apologize for! We’ll get down there eventually.

delwilliams
delwilliams
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich I’m just guessing here, but something tells me he didn’t win you over as a fan with his lying stunt. I could be wrong 🙂

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@delwilliams I don’t know what gave you that idea!

HowieSPM
4 years 3 days ago
Maybe jail time for lying like this?   It blows my mind what they do in politics completely lying and yet no reprecussions. Today the Washington Post gave 3 Pinnochios  to a new Mitt Romney ad that to me is complete slander, Obama did something similar a month ago.Both should be taken to court for them but they aren’t.   I know the US was built on lies, deception and cheating. But we do have laws and to me there should be some sort of checks and balances. Maybe that would slow down the news cycle somewhat but seriously there… Read more »
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @HowieSPM I don’t know that jail time can be instituted, can it? He’s not breaking any laws. He’s just deceiving the public.

Erin F.
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich  @HowieSPM We can put him in the Spin Sucks jail.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @Erin F.  Oh he’d be there if I had that kind of power.

Erin F.
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich I’m putting him in the Write Right jail. Maybe I should draw a cartoon of it.

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @Erin F. You should!

Erin F.
4 years 3 days ago

 @ginidietrich Maybe after I draw my cartoon for August. That one takes precedence.

HowieSPM
4 years 3 days ago

 @Erin F.  @ginidietrich we should deport him to Canada! Make him stay with @belllindsay 

rdopping
rdopping
4 years 3 days ago

 @HowieSPM  @Erin F.  @ginidietrich  @belllindsay Somehow the word deport and Canada don’t go together. Maybe Australia or something. The Great White North has enough liars as it stands.

belllindsay
belllindsay
4 years 2 days ago

 @HowieSPM  @Erin F.  @ginidietrich HAHA! That’s a pretty harsh sentence! Just ask my husband! 😀 

RebeccaTodd
4 years 2 days ago

 @belllindsay  @HowieSPM  @Erin F.  @ginidietrich @rdopping Whoa there, as a Canadian who spend quite a bit of time in Aus, you keep your creeps to yourself, thank you very much! 

pouchee
pouchee
4 years 3 days ago

@ginidietrich wow, that story is wild!

ginidietrich
ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

@pouchee Crazy, huh?

CesLSU
CesLSU
4 years 3 days ago

I don’t think media manipulation is anything new.   You used the example of Andrew Breitbart, but there are just as many manipulators on the left.   Politicians have been using the media to delive its message like their own private PR firm for a long time.   I would even venture to say that the media has become its own manipulator, attempting and, in many cases, succeeding to get the general public to believe a certain political or consumer message.   I think we must all trust but verify.   Hard to do in the 24/7 news cycle and hyper-competitive media industry!

ginidietrich
4 years 3 days ago

 @CesLSU I love you, but does everything have to be politically generated? We don’t talk politics here! I used Breitbart, not because of his political views, but because he had a quote that was usable in making my case.

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