Gini Dietrich

#FollowFriday: Frank Strong

By: Gini Dietrich | June 8, 2012 | 

I am writing this just a couple of hours before I actually meet Frank Strong in person, but I already know I’ll like him as much (if not more) than I do online.

Frank and I met on Twitter several years ago. He’s the director of PR for Vocus and PRWeb, so it makes sense that we know one another. But the reasons we’ve become friend outnumber professional ones.

Last year, Frank was deployed for the second time, and he arrived back home safely earlier this year.

In a blog post at the end of March, he describes how technology has allowed the men and women serving our country the opportunity to see their families every day via Skype (read it; it’ll make you tear up a little bit).

But what I find most interesting is his description of his service and what’s going on in the Middle East:

I’m a Guardsman, a part-time Soldier, recalled to active duty and spent the last year deployed.  This was my second deployment; my first tour to Iraq ended in 2007.

My first deployment was for war; this deployment was for peace and ironically, the latter has left me with a far more cynical, perhaps isolationist, view of Middle East:  We give and give and give; they hate and hate and hate.  The more we give, the more they hate us for it. War gave me compassion, while “peacekeeping” has chipped away at my empathy and hardened my soul; it’s made me, to my own astonishment, bitter.

I can only imagine what it’s like to fight for a country, go to another country to try to give it the same peace and freedom we have, and have your hand bitten. Because of that, Frank is more than another PR professional. He’s changing the world in a way only a few of us ever know.

You can find Frank on Twitter, on LinkedIn, on Google+, on the Vocus blog, and writing on his own blog, The Sword and the Script.

P.S. Something that often goes unspoken is the commitment organizations make when someone who works for them is deployed. Vocus not only saved Frank’s job for him, they welcomed him back with open arms.

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. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Wow, Gini.  Didn’t see this coming.  Thank you for the kind words.
     I certainly will pile on about Vocus as an employer; I nominated them for an award — and any reserve component people out there should look into doing that for employers that have looked after them while deployed, whether for real world missions or training.  People don’t realize that families and employees — the communities around our reserved component personnel — sacrifice too when we are deployed. And that sacrifice is every bit as patriotic. 
    Gini, can’t wait to meet you today — and Geoff too.  Break a leg!  I know you are going to knock it out of the park!

    •  @Frank_Strong I really, really loved meeting you today! Now I’ll have to do a part two so I can confirm I do like you more in person than online (and I like you a lot online!).

      •  @ginidietrich Geez…blushing Gini.  It was awesome to meet you.  And I love it when I get a chance to meet someone IRL that I have talked to online for so long.  It’s happening more and more.   Thanks for coming out today; stellar job. 
        For anyone that doesn’t already know, gosh, I don’t know how Gini keeps up the pace. She took a 4:45 a.m. train from another speaking gig in NYC to join us today.  Talk about endurance. 

        •  @Frank_Strong Well, you don’t see me now…just trying to figure out how to type something coherent because my brain is not working.

  • PaulRobertsPAR

    Great choice Gini. Over the past year or so Frank has become one of my must reads as much as this Follow Friday feature.

    •  @PaulRobertsPAR That’s what I like to hear!

      •  @ginidietrich  @PaulRobertsPAR Shokran and toda, Paul! 

  • ginidietrich

    @Frank_Strong Dang! I haven’t even tweeted it to you yet. And you’re supposed to be busy!

  • leyla_a

    @Frank_Strong @ginidietrich wait. That’s crazy! I met Frank on Twitter because of @vocus and didn’t know he was a soldier until that post

    • Frank_Strong

      @leyla_a 🙂

  • Thanks Gini! I always follow your FF suggestions, but this one was very powerful.  Kick ass today!

    •  @RebeccaTodd In our slides, we have a kick butt slide. How did you know??!

  • Any person that served our country and lead our men and women on the embattled turfs of war over there is deserved of our ‘follow’ on the fronts of social media here. Hats off to vocus for their continued commitment to  @Frank_Strong ‘s loyalty and patriotism with their reserve of employment.

    •  @annelizhannan  vocus Thanks, Anne.  Vocus has been awesome.   What’s more, they knew being deployed was a possibility.  It happened and they stuck by me.  Couldn’t ask for anything more.  Should also shout out to my right-hand lady @sacevero who held the fort down while I was away.  She is an unbelievable rock star.  Sure, I’m her manager, but I think I learn more from her every day. 

  • Thank you for your service Frank.

  • Awesome.
    Thanks for your service, Frank.

  • Frank, thank you for your service. 

  • MikeSchaffer

    Great call! Frank is awesome. And you’ll love him in person even more. Can I join in??? :–)

    •  @MikeSchaffer You were right! I did love him in person even more!

      •  @ginidietrich  @MikeSchaffer Ha!  Mike does (or did) some cools stuff in social media for the National Guard and helps these citizen Soldiers get the word out.  So, thank you Mike!

  • Yep – I met Frank on one of Danny’s blogs – not sure which. Great thinker. I missed his post you reference – WOW. Thanks for sharing.

    •  @AmyMccTobin Good, right?

      •  @ginidietrich  @AmyMccTobin Shucks.  Even a blind squirrel finds a nut some times! 🙂  Thank you for the kind words, Amy. Speaking of Danny, I haven’t been over to his blog in a while.  Going to make a point of that! 

  • Thank you, Frank.  I have the utmost admiration for people who are risking their lives to ensure that the rest of us can enjoy our freedom and hard won rights.

    •  @richescorner Best thing that ever happened to me — when I was coming home on leave from Iraq so long ago — I passed through Atlanta.  We were on that little tram that shuttles passengers between terminals and I could see this lady watching me.  We were the last ones off at the last stop, and she made a bee-line for me, gave me a hug and said “thank you for your service.”  I didn’t even have a chance to respond and she was gone. First time it ever happened.  Today, I see this a lot and strive to emulate it:  when I travel for business and am  dressed casually, I’ll walk up to anyone I see in uniform, shake their hand, say thanks and walk away.  Best “pay it forward” idea ever. 

  • blah2voila

    @ginidietrich DANG! I thought it was going to be somebody with pink hair. I’m feeling so unloved today.

    • ginidietrich

      @blah2voila Oh you’ll get yours, darlin! You’re smoking hot today.

      • blah2voila

        @ginidietrich backatcha babe! muah! xoxox

  • ValerieSimon

     @ginidietrich Hope you and @Frank_Strong had a great time today! Have such respect for Frank and have no doubt that you are right… “He’s changing the world in a way only a few of us ever know.” Thanks for giving us a glimpse Gini. And thank you Frank. As so many others have said, I deeply appreciate your service to our country and our industry.

    •  @ValerieSimon  We need a reunion so we can all see you, too!

    •  @ValerieSimon  We did!  Thanks Valerie and thanks for the kind words.@ginidietrich 

  • Thank you for your service, Frank. Followed. 

    •  @annedreshfield Thanks, Anne. it’s a privileged to serve. 

  • John_Trader1

    Inspiring story. Hug a soldier.

  • ginidietrich

    @Partyaficionado He ROCKS! @Frank_Strong

  • Frank_Strong

    @AnneDGallaher Thanks Anne, means a lot coming from you!

    • AnneDGallaher

      @Frank_Strong I loved all the comments on @ginidietrich’s blog about you! @Vocus is blessed to have you and so is the US! Proud of you!

      • Frank_Strong

        @AnneDGallaher Thanks Anne. One word: humbling. @ginidietrich

        • AnneDGallaher

          @Frank_Strong Deep respect for you. My father was a WWII vet! I love @Vocus too!

        • Frank_Strong

          @AnneDGallaher Well, then, — attention — and — present arms — to your Dad!

      • ginidietrich

        @AnneDGallaher xoxox

        • AnneDGallaher

          @ginidietrich Need a tweetup with you, @Frank_Strong @HowellMarketing @markwschaefer #badasspanel

        • ginidietrich

          @AnneDGallaher THAT would be awesome!! @Frank_Strong @HowellMarketing @markwschaefer

        • HowellMarketing

          Sister, I’m headed to TEXAS in am. West bound & ready! Loaded up & truckin. @AnneDGallaher

        • markwschaefer

          Seriously. @AnneDGallaher @ginidietrich Need a tweetup with you, @Frank_Strong @HowellMarketing @markwschaefer #badasspanel

        • AnneDGallaher

          @HowellMarketing Texas? Sweet! Wave hello to @ ericfletcher

  • Welcome back, man, and thanks for all you guys do. My brother just deployed again too – miss that guy. Glad you and Gini get to meet! 

    •  @NateStPierre Thanks bro.  It’s a rough life for the active duty brethren. They are running a cycle of a year home and a year away.  It really epitomizes “service above self.”  Hats off to your, bro, may he keep his head down and his powder dry. 

  • You know the irony of this timing?  Just yesterday, I got a linked in message from “Mike.”  Mike, or Ahmad as his birth name, was one of many interpreters I had on payroll in Iraq.  Really fine people.
    I put each and every one of them in for citizenship before I left Iraq in 2007.  All were accepted into the preliminary screening.  I *thought* all had declined.  At least, that’s what the email messages from DoS told me. 
    Seems Mike has popped up in DC – I just got a message from him on LinkedIn – he holds a green card now and hopes to get citizenship this year.  I’m going to buy him dinner very soon. 
    For all the service American armed forces personnel do, these local nationals, serving as interpreters, they really risk their lives to serve. And we couldn’t do our jobs without them.
    Mike is in the States now — I can’t wait to see him — and if I can share his story at a future time without risking his life or the lives of his family back in Iraq, I’ll do just that. 

    •  @Frank_Strong thank you for serving! I think the carpetbagging our military contractors did hurt the troops efforts. When they announced we were building this immense symbol of America in Iraq as our embassy I felt that was undermining our troops. So I think the selfless effort of people like you/our troops was undermined by our government and the money machine. And everyone who stayed home did nothing to stop it. Shame on us because it wasn’t our lives at stake. So my apologies.
      Your story here is great Frank about your interpreter. As for Vocus you bought me my favorite pair of Volcom shorts 2 summers ago. I took a tour of the system in exchange for a gift card. And to this day I recommend your platform…not because of the shorts but because I feel it is the best out there. And I like Peter Shankman so there ya go.
      Hey @ginidietrich did I do enough butt kissing can I do my normal fake bio now?

      •  @HowieSPM  I struggle with the contractor piece Howie.  On one hand, lot of those guys caused a lot of BIG problems for us; I have had more than one shouting match with a contractor.  Many times, I did their job for them. 
        I saw on more than one occasion, these guys taking unnecessary risks, ditty-bopping downtown in light-skinned vehicles without body armor like they were special forces.  They were not.  And they didn’t have the experience to merit such risk, which to me, meant, crap, we’re going to have to go rescue those dumb-asses. Man, the memories are coming back…
        On the other hand, some of them have wound up in precarious situations. I remember watching one of the first AQ videos on YouTube.  A young telecoms guy, a boy really, — he couldn’t have been but 20 — lost his head in a gross fashion.  I didn’t sleep for many days.  It disturbed me in ways words cannot describe.  
        Several years later, one of my buddies, a really good friend that has given so much more than I have,  was first on site, after one of our drones ended his killer’s life.  I slept well that night. 

        •  @Frank_Strong  @ginidietrich I actually don’t view the contractors on the ground as the issue (well your point on them doing dumb things is bad) but upper management. I am sure many just saw the great pay and took it.
          I have a finance/sales background. With cost plus contracts I can see them allowing a power plant to be blown up after repairing just so they can repair them again and bill the government. I am sure if the troops did the repairs the incentive would be to not have to do them again. As the sales guy I can see me calling my boss and saying ‘Dude raise my forecast for this quarter by 10%. Don;t ask why. Just do it and read the paper on Tuesday’
          I just think their use inflated the costs.

  • ginidietrich

    @Steveology You do know it’s Tuesday?

    • Steveology

      @ginidietrich Sorry I didn’t tweet your post as promptly as you think I should have.

      • ginidietrich

        @Steveology The only one you have to tweet on a particular day is when the day is mentioned in the title. Blockhead.

        • Steveology

          @ginidietrich Whatever, miss I am a calender girl.

        • ginidietrich

          @Steveology I’m a calendar girl!?! What month did I get?

        • Steveology

          @ginidietrich Every month, Baby!

        • ginidietrich

          @Steveology Bwahaahahaah

    • Steveology

      @ginidietrich It won’t happen again. ..cough, butthead…

  • kmueller62

    @Steveology @ginidietrich don’t let her bully you. It’s bound to be Friday somewhere in the world.

  • Frank_Strong

    @AdamSinger Thanks bro, means a lot coming from you. You’ve taught me a lot! @ginidietrich

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  • Finally getting around to reading this. Big ups to you Frank_Strong, a classy and thoughtful dude if ever there was one. Good to see that a year + onwards and the nice things Gini had to say are all still happening plus a whole lot more.

    • JoeCardillo  Wow, Joe, that’s out of the blue!  You checking up on me?  Thanks for the kind words. I’m inclined to believe it’s not nice things but rather a straight forward nature.  I don’t mince words, thought I strive to invoke diplomacy (an area where I can still use some work).  Still, I’ve found the number of people that respect an honest, if not a simply nice, word vastly outnumber those that dislike it.  With me…what you see is what you get. Thanks for the comment.

      • Frank_Strong JoeCardillo True, but it’s rarer than it should be these days, unfortunately. 
        I actually was reading Martin’s post from today about Klout and that made me think of your interview with Ian Lipner and his quote about trust scaling…..and also the consistency thing, we measure each action, thought, and word against our thousands and perhaps millions of other impressions. In that context it sure helps to be straightforward, assuming you want people to trust you.