Gini Dietrich

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

By: Gini Dietrich | July 23, 2012 | 
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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.

  • A-freakin’-men. #thatisall

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

  •  “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.

    •  @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.

      •  @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.”

        •  @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. 

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

        •  @ginidietrich  @JustInTheSouth THIS. 
           

        • Ike

          @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.

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

        •  @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 a feeling that kind of thinking is pretty prevalent.

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

        •  @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.

  • 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.  🙂

    •  @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

    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!

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

      • rdopping

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

  • 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.

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

  • 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 in schools any more, so the audience is as discerning as a load of bonobos on crack. Who will hear, and heed, a “spin sucks” message in the churn?

    •  @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.

      •  @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 …

        •  @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.

        •  @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 …

  • 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 no way of knowing. 

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

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

      •  @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.

        •  @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. 

        •  @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.

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

        •  @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).

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

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

  • josefrivera

    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 credible news source.

    •  @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

         @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 shows that media has become afraid of telling the truth for fear of litigation, and exclusion from the money.  I still dont know how to feel about this one, I mean I am glad he exposed something that needed to be exposed, and if this were a more level playing ground I would think he would not have used so unethical a means, but looking at the news lately, they are unethical, morally bankrupt, and chasing after the money.  In a case where you are faced with overwhelming odds, unequal resources to conduct battle, the wise tactician will use guerrilla tactics to set, stage and execute the battle on his terms.
         
         

        •  @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.

        •  @TheJackB  @josefrivera It is great fiction though.  

        • josefrivera

           @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 war on media before the internet, the internet is a leveling field.  I am not suggesting we take this as a way to do things, not by a long shot, I am saying there is some momentum towards truth in advertising, and truth in general, and its something we should encourage

  • 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. 

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

  • ginidietrich

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

    • katemhamilton

      @ginidietrich thank you and thanks for commenting!

  • 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”

    •  @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 it’s what happens, so… we just roll with the punches and accept it. Frog in a frying pan. I think this is one of the reasons why reality shows are so popular, and certain “news” blogs are so popular. We expect to be lied to and don’t seem to care. Heck, that’s the way we are with our politicians. 

      •  @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.

        •  @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?”

        •  @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.

        •  @KenMueller  Exactly. 

        • rdopping

           @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.”

        •  @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 turned down one particular client because of a sleaze-factor in the way they do business. 

  • ginidietrich

    @Rieva I miss you!

    • Rieva

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

      • ginidietrich

        @Rieva I wish you were, too!

        • Rieva

          @ginidietrich sigh! hoopefully next year.

  • ginidietrich

    @alisonlaw Thanks Alison!

  • ginidietrich

    @adamtoporek It truly makes me want to cry.

    • adamtoporek

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

  • ginidietrich

    @MervynDinnen Hey Mervyn! How are you??

    • MervynDinnen

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

      • ginidietrich

        @MervynDinnen Pretty good!

  • ginidietrich

    @mediaphyter Sigh…

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

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

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

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

      • davidmeermanscott

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

        •  @davidmeermanscott  @Frank_Strong Indeed they are! Cheers David. 

    •  @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.

  • 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 

    •  @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.

      •  @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

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

  • AverageWomanSJ

    Spin Sucks!!!
     

  • dmscott

    @jasonkonopinski Thanks, interesting. I just commented.

  • 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.

  • “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 a real value is placed on quality we’ll see a lot of this crap in various forms.

    •  @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.

  • 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 be bothered to be ethical and do due diligence.  It’s hard to say that we should expect more out of a kid who openly admits his contempt for this type of sloth if we can no longer expect integrity out of those who have been in the media for years. 
     
    It may be our job to be ethical, but it has to be the other side’s job to not give the few bad apples a microphone and legitimacy with a complete absence of scrutiny. There’s a more thorough background checks to be a cashier at McDonalds.  
     
    (Thanks for something to rant about today that isn’t the NCAA)

    •  @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.  

      •  @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 in a fire of sloth and ineptitude.  

        •  @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. 

        •  @Frank_Strong Fair point

    •  @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 to do better due diligence. But I also think it’s our job to self-police and call out people who behave this way so they’re held accountable for their actions.

  • kaitlinmaud

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

  • KurtScholle

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

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

  • 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…

    •  @KenMueller Yeah, and I am Dear Abby.

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

      •  @TheJackB  You totally are Dear Abby.

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

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

  • 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!

    •  @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.

      •  @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.

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

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

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

  • jeffespo

    @ginidietrich that image makes my eyes bleed…

  • jackielamp

    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.

    •  @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 compelling pitches that stood out – something PR pros can learn from. On the other speed probabky helped which would mean getting good content out there quick would help too.
       
      At the end of the day, I think this will only further the distrust in the media. The general public will probably never get wind of it. And post like Peter’s and Gini’s will only help out with his big plan of selling more books. Sad, but true… and it still doesn’t make it right. 

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

        •  @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?

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

    •  @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

    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

      @KristK Thank you!

  • flemingsean

    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 those of us on the PR side of the wire… we have to decide if we want to play fast and loose with our individual reputations or not. Hello… personal branding anyone..?
     
    Great stuff, as always, Gini.
     
     

    •  @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.

  • 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? 

    •  @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.

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

  • Billy_Delaney

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

    • ginidietrich

      @Billy_Delaney Thank you!

      • Billy_Delaney

        @ginidietrich worthy :))

  • belllindsay

    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. 

    •  @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.

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

        •  @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

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

      • belllindsay

         @ginidietrich WHEEEEEEEE!!!!! 😀 

      •  @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

    @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

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

  • 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

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

    • jasonkonopinski

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

      • laurenboyer

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

      • laurenboyer

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

        • jasonkonopinski

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

        • laurenboyer

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

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

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

      •  @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 the public.  
         
        This makes me so mad. Did you see his article in HuffPost today. Give me a break.

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

        •  @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.

        •  @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. 

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

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

        •  @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

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

  • Pingback: Communications Done Right | Jaggers Communications()

  • ginidietrich

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

  • ginidietrich

    @CristerDelacruz xoxo

  • ginidietrich

    @acraKA Right?

  • ginidietrich

    @John_Trader1 It makes me sad.

    • John_Trader1

      @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

        @John_Trader1 I know. 🙁

  • ginidietrich

    @randypitler And gets away with it. Sigh.

  • ginidietrich

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

    • vedo

      @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

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

  • delwilliams

    @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

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

  • 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 is nothing that I need to know right this very second unless a nuke is heading towards me. 99.9999999999% of the news doesn’t matter if you learn it now or tonight. Or tomorrow.
     
    So what can be done?

    •  @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.

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

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

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

        •  @Erin F. You should!

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

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

        • rdopping

           @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

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

        •  @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

    @ginidietrich wow, that story is wild!

    • ginidietrich

      @pouchee Crazy, huh?

  • CesLSU

    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!

    •  @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.

  • Yikes. I’ll stay on your team, Gini. I’m not surprised this is possible, but I’m amazed someone is that sketchy. Really I think we should spearhead a group that agrees to report and share with integrity. Or finds publications that do so and reports their records, even awards the ones with the most integrity. It’s crazy that media became democratized partly to be an alternative to the tred of manufactured news- Yet here we are again.

    •  @Tinu It makes me sad…and not a big believer in human kind. Which I hate feeling.

      •  @ginidietrich  @Tinu Well, remember what P.T. Barnum said about suckers. There are a lot of them, and, it seems, just as many people who want to take advantage of them. 

        • @KenMueller @ginidietrich C’est vrai. Will try to stay off both types of radar.

      • @ginidietrich Sad, yes. But I’m going to struggle against losing faith in humanity. For every one of him, there’s one of you. And I think the light of people like you smothered their darkness.

        •  @Tinu   I WILL BEAT HIM! I mean, what?

        •  @ginidietrich  @Tinu You got this, Gini! Better to die upon your feet than live upon your knees, right? 

  • ErinMFeldman

    @bullishink Thanks for the RT!

  • shonali

    @nikki_little Me too! @ginidietrich

    • nikki_little

      @shonali And it enrages us because it’s so far away from what PR is all about! Sigh.

  • Pingback: Responding to Peter Shankman | RyanHoliday.net()

  • Oh it’s getting good! He responded on his own blog – calling me entitled and lazy. Here you go: http://www.ryanholiday.net/responding-to-peter-shankman/

  • JamesSexton

    On your side Gina! Guess he responded to this http://www.huffingtonpost.com/ryan-holiday/honoring-a-reporters-obli_b_1693338.html

    •  @JamesSexton He did. And he also wrote a post on his own blog.

  • ryancox

    I guess I’d never heard of this guy @ginidietrich and I can say I was probably better off for it. Media manipulator reads: lie on purpose and get paid because of it. There are plenty of other ways to prove and change industries that are broken. Exploiting it for self profit because you “can” isn’t how my mother raised me. I’d rather be less self profitable than a man that can’t look in the mirror and be happy with what I see.

    •  @ryancox It isn’t how my mother raised me, either. I’d rather get there the hard way, and be good and nice, then do it like this.

      •  @ginidietrich  @ryancox Me, too!

  • ginidietrich

    @JamesBSchultz Are your ears burning? Lisa and I were just going thru your site.

    • JamesBSchultz

      @ginidietrich Be gentle!

      • ginidietrich

        @JamesBSchultz It’s very good! Like where you’re going.

        • JamesBSchultz

          @ginidietrich so much to do & so little time 🙂

        • ginidietrich

          @JamesBSchultz I hear that!

  • Read this, then read Peter Shankman’s post. Agree w/ most of the comments here and there: what this person did is NOT in any way PR! It’s some misguided, terrible attempt to game a system, in order to ‘make a point’ and get the publicity in order to sell a book. It is not PR. 
     
    Sadly, I think for the few who don’t look further this will hurt the perception of the industry. (See @KenMueller comments.) But I think it will be limited; I mean I’m just learning of this now and as the story unfolds, I hope this will die a quick death. Lost in all this b.s.: the ‘news’ that – wait a minute – what we read in the magazines and see on TV aren’t 100% true and 110% accurate all the time?! Color me unsurprised. (And as some of the tweets and comments have pointed out re: research, fact checking, this reflects just as negatively on journalism.)
     
    But this.. lying and manipulating the media for sport, for eventual profit, just to show you can? IDK. This is such an abomination, such a ridiculous ploy – I hope that most rational people will see it for the reeking, flaming pile of poo it is. FWIW.

    •  @3HatsComm  I hope so, too. The thing that bothers me the most is there are people who believe his crap and think the good and nice people don’t get ahead. That this is the only way to get ahead. I guess every industry has ’em. Why should ours be any different?

      •  @ginidietrich  @3HatsComm sadly when I looked up this dickwad on twitter he was getting a lot of positive tweets…especially in the PR industry of his personal blog and huff post article.
         
        Comes down to marketing and PR folks tend to be really gullible for some reason. But people in general are really gullible believing so much stuff they shouldn’t.

        •  @HowieSPM  There’s a sucker born every minute, or so I’ve heard. Alas like @ginidietrich I ain’t find mine yet, so no getting ahead this way for me. 🙂
           
          The danger is gullibility, the lack of critical reasoning. “It’s on the Internet, it must be true,” is the thinking for far too many. This crap has ‘exposed’ the media in some ways and yes, it’s a blogger, a journalist’s job to vet their sources, to check the facts. But the problem to me is that the exposure here won’t shine a light for anyone not looking; those who need to know how the game can/is rigged, well.. they’re typically the last ones to question it.
           
          IDK this just is not PR; hell, it’s not even publicity or media relations. And that’s all I tell anyone willing to listen. FWIW.

  • Pingback: Eight Ways The ‘Trust Me, I’m Lying’ Guy is a Boon to PR | Common Sense()

  • After I saw the movie Borat, two things crossed my mind:  1) this was a really funny movie and; 2) Sacha Baron Cohen can’t make a Borat 2.  Sacha’s version of an R-rated Candid Camera is a one trick pony.  Now that we now all know who Ryan Holiday is (never heard of him until now) and what he is not (a public relations person), the PR/marketing profession can be assured that Ryan won’t be interviewed by the New York Times anytime soon as an expert on neutrino particle degradation or cited in a National Geographic post on best digital camera choices for an Antarctica expedition. 
     
    Perhaps the most amusing part of Ryan’s quest for his 15 minutes of page views was his interview by George Knapp on the national Coast to Coast AM radio show on July 22.  In that interview, Ryan referred to HARO, the service he scammed, as: 1) “a secret service”; 2) “a secret social network” and; 3) “a secret backroom” for journalists and sources.  Really?  A secret?  Ryan, if you checked some sources you’d find the “secret” phase of the PR business existed before you skipped out of college at 19, when companies and clients mostly had to rely on public relations pros to connect with media. Peter Shankman disrupted that business model with HARO, creating a free tool to enable anybody to directly pitch story sources or expertise to media, without the need for PR intermediaries/gatekeepers.  And by anybody, that means, in Ryan’s words to the millions of Coast to Coast listeners, “publicists and hustlers and self-promoters.”  Much to the dismay of some PR people who once enjoyed total control of the process, HARO is about as secret as Tucker Max’s well-exercised liver or his personal struggle with social etiquette.
     
    But enough of the Ryan Show.  When this story hit the radar, the first thing I did was look at the clients and companies that have hired Ryan Holiday or engage him today for his “promotional” (not PR) services.  We are often a reflection of the clients and companies that hire us for public relations and marketing counsel.  And it goes both ways.  The company you keep, in our brave, new transparent world, is revealing. 
     

    •  @joeldon “We are often a reflection of the clients and companies that hire us for public relations and marketing counsel.” Very, very good point. 

  • avilambert

    I think this narrative shows that reporting is not what it used to be. Citizen journalism has ruptured the cultural norm that previously separated professionals and amateurs. And the news cycle has definitely increased in velocity because of the social conversation and social communication. But the personal choices made by Holiday to make a point about media manipulation reveal more about Holiday’s low ethical standards and drive for celebrity than anything else. While PR practitioners and journalists drop the ball on occasion and with some frequency, ethics are a core part of each discipline. At the very least, it’s worth thanking Holiday for raising significant questions about credibility. 

  • Gini – Did you read the book? It agrees with all the conclusions you draw here.

    •  @Brigitte Brigitte, his book does not agree with the conclusions drawn here, nor does the large body of content he has written and published all over the Web. It made me puked in my mouth a little bit. 
       
      He advocates lying and manipulation as a legitimate tactic.  His lies using HARO was and is a stunt to sell books.  And his book publicist?  I have a few pitches that found their way to a special inbox folder for future reference. Juicy.  Memes.  Gawker.  Mmmm.
       
      An experiment? An expose?   Please.  99.9% of people don’t lie about snots and vinyl records. He hurts PR pros. He hurts journalists.   He hurts small businesses.  He hurts himself.
       
      The problem with believing someone who may be lying, about lying, to promote a book about lying, is that it’s hard to know if there’s any truth to the story.
       
      His antics are juvenile, like smashing pumpkins at Halloween or graffiti under a highway bridge. Unfortunately, he is selling books, but proving Gini’s headline to be true:  hurting the industry.
       
      Lying for sales is like a crack high — it’s intense, it’s short-lived and the crash is very hard.  

      •  @Brigitte Oh, and check out those reviews on Amazon.  They make Chic-Fil-A look like amateur fakes. 

      •  @Frank_Strong While he may well be lying (and not knowing is part of the fun, isn’t it?), Holiday wrote the book to expose the gaps in the system that allow people like him to take advantage. I find his stories believable, based on my own experiences with the press (writing press releases that I see printed “as is” in newspapers, etc).
         
        99% of people don’t lie about vinyl records, it’s true, but people are out there lying about issues of national importance. Holiday’s book is similar to the hackers who break into a government program and then tell the government, so they can fix their flaws. 
         
        Have you read the book?

        •  @Brigitte No.  It’s not fun. It’s horrible.  Do you work for him?  Because I’ve read that line before…

        •  @Brigitte Ohhh…do I have one of your pitches in my inbox? That would be awesome. 

        • @Frank_Strong Haha, no. If you search the archives of this blog, you might figure out where I once worked.

          I don’t advocate lying, nor am I a liar. I am truly curious — did you read the book?

        •  @Brigitte  Yep. And I read LinkedIn. And I have a tool that gives me unlimited access to search comments and blogs and pretty much anything posted to the web. 

        •  @Frank_Strong Brigitte used to work for me (not Holiday) and (I think) she’s talking only about the issue Holiday raises around journalists needing to do their fact checking and background work. You and I don’t disagree about that. What we disagree with is his approach.  @Brigitte 

        •  @ginidietrich  @Brigitte Perhaps, I’ve jumped to a conclusions.  I’ve done that before. I’ll probably do it again.  My comments above do a poor job of articulating what I mean. They start to get personal quickly.   That’s not typically my style; not one of my finer moments. I apologize if I offended you, Brigitte.  
           
          As for the question about journalistic ethics —  I don’t believe for a second this was an altruistic experiment to expose some weakness.  Rather it was a deliberate ploy to gain personally at the expense of others.  I interpret, the message about journalistic standards as a weak response to a rising crisis when things didn’t go quite as intended.  
           
          I don’t believe we can pick and choose tidbits from the book and say parts of it are good.  When the premise is bad, we toss out the whole conclusion.  So I *feel* when someone says, “Yeah, he’s making a point” they either agree or they have been duped as well.”
           
          I’ll leave one final thought.  If you have the stomach to read one more post on this topic — read this one:  http://bit.ly/OrFmBE  It lays out a compelling case for why manipulation is penny wise and pound foolish.  Take a close look at the sales figures — and the losses. There is no case for lying.   Lying is dead. 

        • @ginidietrich@Brigitte
          Perhaps, I’ve jumped to a conclusions.  I’ve done that before. I’ll probably do it again.  My comments above do a poor job of articulating what I mean. They start to get personal quickly.   That’s not typically my style; not one of my finer moments. I apologize if I offended you, Brigitte.  
           
          As for the question about journalistic ethics —  I don’t believe for a second this was an altruistic experiment to expose some weakness.  Rather it was a deliberate ploy to gain personally at the expense of others.  I interpret, the message about journalistic standards as a weak response to a rising crisis when things didn’t go quite as intended.  
           
          I don’t believe we can pick and choose tidbits from the book and say parts of it are good.  When the premise is bad, we toss out the whole conclusion.  So I *feel* when someone says, “Yeah, he’s making a point” they either agree or they have been duped as well.”
           
          I’ll leave one final thought.  If you have the stomach to read one more post on this topic — read this one: http://bit.ly/LT2rPW  It lays out a compelling case for why manipulation is penny wise and pound foolish.  Take a close look at the sales figures — and the losses. There is no case for lying.   Lying is dead. 
           
          Note:  I wrote this comment, then deleted it, because I realized after publishing, I included the wrong link.  I deleted the comment and posted exactly the same text – typos and all — except I put the right link in the comment this time. 
           

        •  @Frank_Strong  Thank you for this comment. I was taken aback by your previous message, but I do understand this is a loaded topic — and you had no reason to know or believe I’m an ethical practitioner without a hand in this issue. I’m sure my comments came across as irresponsibly flip.
           
          Here’s something about my background that you couldn’t have known. Before working for Gini, I specialized in public affairs. I saw, firsthand, how our public figures manipulated the press to further their legislation, candidate or issue. My ideals hopelessly crushed, I got out. Frankly, that’s why I enjoyed Holiday’s book. It exposes a lot of the problems with the press. The HARO stunt aside, one of the odd points of the book is the obviously high esteem Holiday has for the traditional press. He lays on the blame solely on bloggers, while my view is more nuanced.
           
          Does our industry and the media get a black eye in all this? You bet. But I think it’s a deserved one. For every 5 ethical practitioners, there’s someone like Ryan out there gaming the system.
           
          As a person who’s job it is to work with the press, I don’t trust it. And that makes me very, very sad.

        •  @Brigitte Well, I’m sorry, Brigitte. My comments were not fair. It’s cause me to reflect on my tone, my impulse and my word choice. This does not of course, change my views on the tragedy of Holiday’s ideas. 

    •  @Brigitte I started to read it and I couldn’t get through it. Just the table of contents makes me nuts (the tactics about working with bloggers? Give me a break). The issue I have it not his premise about journalists – I think people, by nature, are lazy and that means even some journalists too. What I don’t want to see happening is people going out saying they’re PR pros (and if you read his introduction, he claims to be one) and perpetuating the perception that we’re all liars, spin doctors, or media manipulators. That’s the entire reason this blog exists…to fight that perception. 

  • gcj

    When your income stream is attacked, I can see why you’d respond emotionally and dishonestly. Where has Ryan represented himself as anything other than a manipulator?

    •  @gcj The problem is that the PR industry has a perception of being liars and spin doctors. He’s perpetuating that perception and creating the illusion that that’s what we all do. I’ve never lied to a reporter, manipulated a relationship, or created a story that didn’t exist. There are PR professionals (many, many of us) who are extremely ethical and take very careful care of the relationships we’ve spent our entire careers developing.
      As for the income stream statement, I don’t understand what you mean. Are you talking about me and being emotionally and dishonest in this blog post? 

      • RyanHoliday

         @ginidietrich Gini, I’m not “perpetuating” a perception, I’m saying it straight out: marketers control and dictate too much of the online news cycle and bloggers go along with it. They’re both liars and spin doctors. This is what I have observed and I’m showing it to everyone.I think GCJ is referring to this Upton Sinclair quote: “It’s difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”I don’t take it personally, but that’s why people (such as yourself) are missing the point of the book. I didn’t say you were a liar and I think you know that. I said that there is a lot of lying going on though and the public deserves to know about it. 

        •  @RyanHoliday I am not impressed by disingenuous and self congratulatory statements that aren’t predicated on altruistic intentions.
           
          Not everyone lies or intentionally goes along with lies. Your willingness to tar and feather is troubling.
           
          You aren’t the first to question or try to “shed light” on what happens behind the scenes. Although you are the first I remember who described themselves as a manipulator.
           
          Words mean something to me so I don’t know if your definition of manipulator fits into any one of the three below
           
          To tamper with or falsify for personal gain:
          To influence or manage shrewdly or deviously
           To move, arrange, operate, or control by the hands or by mechanical means, especially in a skillful manner:
           
          What I can say is I wouldn’t want to be described as a manipulator. If people choose to align with a position I support I hope it is because they are persuaded to do so.
           
          Furthermore the public has a personal responsibility to check the information they receive as well. I take it from your position that you think the public is filled with a bunch of people who live in lollipop land and as a result cannot think for themselves.
           
          Perhaps I am wrong about all this and I just misunderstand but my impression isn’t of a good Samaritan trying to help others. Really it reminds me of the guy who tries to convince you not to play 3 Card Monty while simultaneously lifting your wallet out of your pocket.
           
          But maybe I don’t know anything because everyone knows that Generation X is old and stupid.
           
           @ginidietrich 

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  • shelholtz

    Hey, Gini. I’ve left this same post over on the Inside PR blog:
     
    I’m so glad you covered Ryan Holiday and his book. Since he’s getting less critical coverage elsewhere, it’s important that we who believe in the ethical side of PR speak up. Neville and I addressed Holiday on FIR #661 on July 23 (http://bit.ly/P13Wci) after I heard him interviewed on the Mixergy podcast (http://mixergy.com/ryan-holiday-interview/) by someone who thought his tactics were great. I also wrote a post suggesting that the ease with which someone like Holiday can manipulate the media gives rise to a greater need for our profession to examine certification (http://bit.ly/M9roSH). But what you may be most interested in is the Google+ Hangout on Air that John Jantsch moderated between Holiday and HARO founder Peter Shankman; David Meerman Scott and I sat in as commentators. You’ll find it here: http://youtu.be/s4a0Vrk4ZEw
     
    Thanks again for calling this kind of behavior out for what it is.

    •  @shelholtz He was on NPR on Monday night and Mr. D said to me, “Have you heard of this guy?” It’s kind of fascinating. I went OFF. To the point that he said, “OK, OK. I see your point.” And that’s the issue…people not in the industry think this is what we all do. It really, really bothers me.

      • shelholtz

         @ginidietrich Brooke Gladstone took him at face value on NPR’s On the Media. I think those who already have a negative view of PR will just see this as validation for their perspective.

        •  @shelholtz I think so too 🙁

        •  @ginidietrich  @shelholtz I think that it’s WAY past time to talk about certifications with teeth. A close friend has every cert the industry offers, and is a true guru of ethical PR. However, he bailed on the industry over the last decade because the spin bullsh*t just got too deep. PR is literally killing itself by letting dbs like Holiday turn lying in to a personal victory. 

    •  @shelholtz thanks for sharing the video – haven’t had the chance to watch it all the way thru (yet), but the cast of characters makes it #1 on my to-view list!

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