Gini Dietrich

PR Firms Botch 95% of Social Media Campaigns?

By: Gini Dietrich | June 13, 2011 | 

I’m going to preface this blog post by saying I have not read Thank You Economy by Gary Vaynerchuk.

I did read Crush It, but it was really difficult for me to get through because the writing is so poor. In his defense, Gary does admit he’s not a writer; rather he wrote the book because he was asked to do so…and then he was asked again.

So, imagine my surprise when John Falchetto sent me a scan of a couple of pages from Thank You Economy

Ninety-five percent of the worst social media engagement I’ve seen was produced by PR companies that were hired to manage a brand’s profiles, pages, or blogs.

Wow. That’s quite the statement! Ninety-five percent of the worst social media engagement he’s seen?

As you can imagine, I set right to work to see where he found that stat. It turns out, he made it up. OK. Maybe of the companies he’s worked with, 95 percent of them had botched social media campaigns. So he didn’t entirely make it up. But that’s an awfully big generalization to make in a book. A published book with a real publisher.

He goes on to say:

Please, companies, stop hiring PR firms to do your community management. PR is in the push business; they send out press releases and book appearances and work B2B. They’re used to talking to editors, writers, and producers, not the public. They have no idea what’s going on in the trenches, and they’re awkward and shaky when they try to go there. The only reason PR claims they can do it is because they see which way the wind is blowing and it’s not toward them.

They’ll say anything to avoid losing your business. The ad agencies do a beter job than the PR companies because they are in the business of thinking about what the consumer wants, but ideally, try to hire people internally  for this job. Select the employees who know your business well, and care about it as much as you do, and can demonstrate quick, creative thinking, flexibility, and compassion. Those are the people you want representing your brand to the masses. If you don’t feel as though you have the knowledge in-house, hire a company to get the ball rolling and train your staff, then hand the reins off to your team.

Look, I am the very first one to admit that a customer or prospect doesn’t want to talk to a middle man; they want to talk to someone within your four walls. Gone are the days of hiring a PR firm because of their relationships with the media. Gone are the days of the scripted soundbytes and the canned responses to interview questions.

Now we’re in real-time where we have real relationships with those who do or may buy from us.

But don’t throw the baby out with the bath water.

PR professionals, by nature, know how to build relationships: With media, with influencers, with Wall Street, with stakeholders, with employees…and even with customers.

If you were to read that statement in the book you’d think PR pros only work with media…and that’s all we’ve ever done.

Well guess what? Publicity is one tiny piece of PR. And I mean tiny. In a fully integrated campaign, it’s typically 10 percent or less.

I agree: Keep the community management in-house as Gary suggests. But hire outside counsel to help you with campaign ideas, messaging, creating value-added content, taking the French (the we, we, we) out of all of your sales and  marketing materials, building your reputation, being ready for real-time crisis, and even learning how to build relationships with your key constitutes.

If you find the right PR firm for your business, you’ll have more than a five percent success rate.

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!

  • KenMueller

    I love when people throw the baby out with the bath water. I hear it all the time in my field of Social Media. We make broad sweeping generalizations, which are tainted by our personal bias, and our observations. Seriously, how does Gary know that the PR firm is running the social media campaigns he is looking at. In most cases, you DON’T and SHOULDN’T know. They should be somewhat invisible. I do agree that much of community management should be done in house, but it has to start somewhere in terms of strategizing and education.

    Don’t worry. I’d hire you, Gini.

  • It really shocked me because I always saw PR as being able to able to get social media (because of the dialogue they have with the press and others) better than advertising (which is push media).

    I agree with @KenMueller how does Gary know who is running the social media campaign? I guess if it’s very badly done he finds out. BUt in many instances it’s impossible to tell.

  • ginidietrich

    @KenMueller It makes me angry that he write a book, aimed toward business leaders, and uses his experience as a sweeping generalization. Sure, there are PR firms that don’t get it. And there are social media campaigns that haven’t worked. But, more often than not, those campaigns have been because of internal efforts (Kenneth Cole) not because of a PR firm.

  • ginidietrich

    @johnfalchetto @KenMueller I think, what he was saying, is it’s the companies he’s worked with that hired PR firms and he wasn’t happy with their work on the social media campaigns (in which case he would know). But it makes it sound like every social media campaign that ever ended badly was run by a PR firm. And that’s just not true.

  • davenicoll

    Good to see you back on form Gini. I’d been thinking the same thing for some time, glad it’s being discussed.

  • adamtoporek

    Agree with John and Ken, how does he know who was behind the campaigns, unless, as you say, he is referring to those he has worked on. That aside, amazing how we see all see the world so differently. I know I’ve commented on this before here at SS, but I think in the aggregate good PR people (read — not spin doctors) are extremely attuned to consumers, because they have to be.

    And BTW, did you know that 95% of traditional publishers are understaffed in their Editorial departments and allow unsubstantiated statistics to be published. 🙂

  • Hi Gini… you certainly nailed it when you talked about the days of scripted sound bites being gone and taking the French out of sales. Being on the video side of things, I can usually tell when a company has worked with a good PR pro. They’re more relaxed, engaging, and don’t get caught up in providing the “right” answer.

    Not coincidentally… all those things lead to better PR/sales/marketing videos. Heck… it leads to better content in general.

    –Tony Gnau

  • Hi Gini… you certainly nailed it when you talked about the days of scripted sound bites being gone and taking the French out of sales. Being on the video side of things, I can usually tell when a company has worked with a good PR pro. Their people are more relaxed, engaging, and don’t get caught up in providing the “right” answer.

    Not coincidentally… all those things lead to better PR/sales/marketing videos. Heck… it leads to better content in general.

    –Tony Gnau

  • It;s funny and ironic, as VaynerMedia is responsible for two of the worst pitches I’ve seen. Maybe look at tidying up your own house first before taking a vacuum cleaner to someone else’s…

  • garyvee

    great points, thnx for the feedback

  • garyvee

    @DannyBrown sorry u feel that way man, would love to here what they were via email gary @ vaynermedia .com and I am sorry u feel that way!

  • garyvee

    @ginidietrich @KenMueller guys I am so sorry that that one statement upset you, I was trying to make a point about push but understand your 2 cents and respect them and understand how that can be viewed, in the context of the chapter I think it makes much more sense, I am so sorry it was taken poorly

  • garyvee

    OH Gini I had a ghost writer and harper collins editor for Crush it so I am not sad at the comment about poorly written 😉 lol anyway I agree with much u are saying here and thank you for the yang to my ying

  • @garyvee Cheers, Gary. Not sure if I still have, but one was around the Crush It book and the “lack of” information when we were asked about requests and how to work with a method that was better suited to our audiences.

    It seemed there was a n approach more for basic numbers of reveiews, interviews, etc, as opposed to actually wanting to “be there” for questions.

    This may have been the agency as it was pretty new at the time if I recall.

  • Nick

    I will not respond to this post, I will not respond to this post, I will not respond to this post.

  • @garyvee has always seemed like a very passionate guy. His video on social media being the chair that breaks across duplicitous behavior is one of my all time favorites.

    Remember when I wrote that post about passion not being a requirement for leadership, Gini? This is why. When we get so caught up in our passion and feel so compelled to say whatever it is we believe with all our hearts, we often don’t time to think about what we’re saying. And this is what happens. I haven’t read the book, so won’t comment. But I’d like to say a) I CAN prove the ROI on my mother (sorry…I just had to defend those of us who do think it’s important to justify social media efforts…I realize it has nothing to do with this post, but Gary V. followers know what I mean); b) I “get” life in the trenches, and some of the insular companies with which I’ve had the pleasure to do business were quite grateful for my expanding perspective; c) assumptions make us all look like…whatever…and d) 95% of public relations efforts are based on consumer need research…I crack myself up. Ah well…let’s just all go do good work today, eh?

  • @garyvee garyvee has always seemed like a very passionate guy. His video on social media as the chair that breaks across duplicitous behavior is one of my all time favorites.

    Remember when I wrote that post about passion not being a requirement for leadership, Gini? This is why. When we get caught up in our passion and feel compelled to share what we believe, we sometimes don’t take time to think about the full import of our words. And this is what happens.

    While I’m on the subject of passionate diatribes, here are a few of my own: a) I CAN prove the ROI of my mother (sorry…I realize it has nothing to do with this post, but Gary V. followers know what I mean); b) I “get” life in the trenches, and some of the insular companies with which I’ve had the pleasure to do business were quite grateful for my expanding perspective; c) assumptions make us all look like idiots, and d) 95% of public relations efforts are based on consumer need research…I crack myself up. Ah well…let’s just all go do good work today, eh?

  • @garyvee @ginidietrich @KenMueller Gary, I think it is neat that you listened, responded and are concerned about others opinions.

  • megmroberts

    I’m going to try not to get too hung up on the negative generalizations made against the PR industry (ouch…), but I wanted to respond because I think this furthers the dialogue we are all constantly having regarding social media: what is the right content for social platforms and who, ultimately, is in charge of creating and distributing it?

    While I don’t think agencies are at fault 95% of the time, I do think many people (internally and externally) who touch social tend to use it as a push channel rather than as a community building tool – which I think is the point Gary is trying to make.

    Personally, I agree with many others who’ve left comments here that the right agency can pull from past communication experiences to consult an organization’s in-house team on how to best use social media to achieve company objectives.

    I will say that this line, “The ad agencies do a better job than the PR companies because they are in the business of thinking about what the consumer wants…” clearly shows how many simply do not understand what PR’s role is and what practitioners are responsible for doing. But that’s a much bigger conversation…

  • Jmodio

    I was a community manager for Gary briefly for one of his agency’s clients. It didn’t work out.

  • Jmodio

    Interesting article Gini. I was a community manager briefly for VM, unfortunately it didn’t work out.

  • Wow. Really impressed that @garyvee is here and responding. I see both sides of this, and boy does our company need a PR firm! (since it is only a matter of time before one of my bosses does something..) I gave Gary’s book to one of my bosses to read. Hopefully he does and takes it to heart.

    My bosses want content that “makes us sound smart” this concerns me. I write simply because i see the value in a nice, clean post that makes sense and is not too wordy.

    One of my bosses asked me “What was the ROI of you going to BlogWorld?” excuse me, what? What is the ROI of meeting people that I read daily, and interact with on various social networks? Ummm …priceless! That is what it is to me. I just wish I had a sitter so I could have gone out with you guys.

    Forgive my rambling, I had too much coffee it seems.

  • I can understand this kind of statement more in a presentation because you can get the paralinguistic element of it too – it’s an exaggeration, Gary’s looking for a reaction. But to be fair to Gary, I just didn’t take that sentence seriously when I read it first time around. It was more about throwing down the gauntlet.

    That said, I do think it’s good to take this up Gini because so much sweeping statements get peddled out and shared all across the community and can do damage.

    *Kudos GV for joining in the conversation here !

  • patrickreyes

    I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately. From a perspective of the agency model to how companies should be staffed and organized. At a high level, social media and community management are part of a larger marketing strategy. Having an organization that knows how to have conversations with people is important and that’s why I’ve often held the belief that PR people are better at marketing than marketers. In my experience, marketers have used the social tools as another platform for one way communication. I think @garyvee and @ginidietrich would agree that real time conversation is where the opportunity lies. Companies that figure that out will succeed and have campaigns that work…95% of the time.

  • jeanniecw

    2 things I love about this post: Gini and Gary. I’ve seen Gary speak a few times now and I absolutely adore the way he just puts it out there when he speaks. I also appreciate how genuine he is about hanging around for people afterwards. But I agree with your points here about the book. I, too, read Crush It but not Thank You Economy. I love the IDEAS of both. And I think in a way Gary’s response to the whole PR thing is what’s been done poorly in the PR industry, as you point out. The thing about Gary is that it’s Gary – not a strategy or a plan – that makes what he does so appealing. He jumps into conversations (like this one) and isn’t defensive. He just wants to actually discuss things. Gini what you add is not only a personality but a strategy to back it up. I’m not saying Gary doesn’t offer that (I’ve never worked with him) but I think he makes things look easy just because he’s a charismatic guy. One of the biggest obstacles we’ve had with community management is regular Joe Executive thinking they’re Gary or Gini. Trust me, they’re not. Nor should they be. But it couldn’t hurt to learn from the pros.

    So I guess my point is that I’m nominating Gary and Gini for Prom King & Queen. Or something. 🙂

  • PatrickStrother

    “Publicity is one tiny piece of PR.” Exactly correct Gini! Why is it so hard for the PR business to get this really basic and simple point across. Regarding push, we actually overtly define our approach to PR as pull.

  • PattiRoseKnight

    Gini is 100% correct when she says Publicity is one tiney pice of PR. When will the rest of the world understand that?

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,

    I’ve heard of putting cats among pigeons. But putting Ginis among Garys……..Wow!

    Maybe it gets back to Robert Gunning’s famous dictum. “Write to express not to impress.” What you say to entertain and arouse the masses at aconference can look rather severe on a printed page. And as privacy no longer exists, it’s open season on everything you write.

    Anyway Gini, it’s good to see you going in to bat for your profession. Have you read “The Decline of Marketing and the Rise of PR” by Al and Laura Ries? It’s a useful tome, even for unidentified arms!

    You’re obviously having fun. Press on, Whoops……!



  • Nick

    I seriously will not respond to this post, I seriously will not respond to this post, I seriously will not respond to this post……..

  • I think that it has become fashionable for people to talk about bootstrapping their business. And what I mean is that many people interpret that as meaning that as @ginidietrich said they have resources that allow them to circumvent the middle man.

    It is not just in PR. I hear it all over the place and it is foolish. Access to resources/tools is not indicative of skills or experience to use them. Sometimes the idea of doing it yourself is idiotic. You wouldn’t let someone watch a few videos of surgery and then operate on you.

    There is a reason why smart people try to hire the best to do certain jobs. Measure twice, cut once.

    @garyvee A long time ago I was pleasantly surprised when you (Gary V. ) responded to a tweet of mine. Pleasantly surprised because my experience had shown that I got a very low response rate from the “big names.” I have wondered whether it was because my message was lost among thousands of others or not important.

  • ginidietrich

    @garyvee You are fantastic at video and knowing wine so I’ll give you that! I’m just sad that such a blanket statement was made in a book that A LOT of business leaders will read. Is this statement based on your own experience? I know a lot of the botched social media campaigns have been by internal folks. I also know I’m biased because PR is my profession, but we’re not all bad.

    (P.S. thanks for taking the time to stop by)

  • ginidietrich

    @MimiMeredith @garyvee I agree with Mimi. Most people won’t take the time and I really appreciate that you did.

  • ginidietrich

    @davenicoll LOL! I haven’t been on a rant in a while. I’m on one tomorrow, too. 🙂 This whole argument over who own social is ridiculous.

  • ginidietrich

    @Nick Chicken.

  • ginidietrich

    @adamtoporek Ha at your BTW! LOL! And I have a BTW for you…we were talking about you in our staff meeting today. We’d like to have you back!

  • Nick

    @ginidietrich No, I just have to share an office… 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @T60Productions Totally agree. And it’s not totally up to PR to do that for companies. It’s everyone’s job to provide better content.

  • ginidietrich

    @Nick Chicken x 2

  • ginidietrich

    @DannyBrown You have to love it when the man answers the critics! @garyvee

  • ginidietrich

    @MimiMeredith You crack me up. LOL

  • ginidietrich

    @megmroberts As a matter of fact, a much bigger conversation that is going to happen here tomorrow. I was part of #bizforum on Wednesday night, where we talked about where social belongs. SO MANY opinions. I have one, too. 🙂

    And…I haven’t forgotten about blogging the PR/bloggers manifesto. Next week!

  • ginidietrich

    @Jmodio Mind sharing with us why it didn’t work out??

  • ginidietrich

    @NancyD68 The bigger issue, Nancy, is that these kinds of blanket statements are where business leaders (your bosses) are getting their information. And it’s just not true. There are bad PR pros and bad PR firms. There are bad ad pros and bad ad agencies. But to say an entire industry ruins something is ludicrous.

  • ginidietrich

    @jonbuscall But how many business leaders understand this is a blanket statement? That’s what bothers me. Gary has HUGE influence. This kind of statement can damage an entire industry.

  • LimelitePR

    I agree with your statements 100% Gini. PR professionals aren’t gatekeepers; we are facilitators.

    I now spend more time on building (or improving) systems and processes within our clients infrastructure so that they can confidently respond in a timely and direct manner to their public.

    I find that most advertising agencies want to control the channels on behalf of the client rather than empower them to build the relationships on their own through the most appropriate channels.

    I believe that PR’s media relations background/training has helped us understand the (extreme) demands of dealing with the public. If you don’t know what you are saying, where you are saying it, and how to respond then you will be in a worse position than when you started. Our job is to help clients understand that they are informing the public in order to build on relationships and conversations. I don’t see many advertising agencies doing that.

  • DavidM

    Gini – great post! I’m so tired of hearing biased and generally uninformed anti-PR rants. Yes, there are many bad PRs out there whose inept social media activities have tarred our profession but there are many, many good ones whose clients enjoy great success.

    I also really liked your comment about publicity only being one element of PR. We are a multi-discipline profession and a skilled practitioner can deliver unequaled value in many areas of the marketing mix.

  • Jmodio

    @ginidietrich They didn’t really make it clear. It was my first real job, so I was hired entry level, as a “community manager.” I started out in a bit of a hurry during SXSW, the entire office was off to Texas. I was in NYC working on reports and Radian6 going over every tweet, fb post, photo and video from the even, measuring sentiment and categorizing. I then got assigned to my first client, running it’s FB and Twitter. The client was a fictional character, on a trial basis. It was under a microscope. I got called in the Friday afternoon after at the end of my first full week monitoring the account, they told me to be careful and whatnot. I went through the weekend, Monday, Tuesday afternoon I got called in, they said I was working out, sorry they hired me and had me do all the reports. They said they’d give me a recommendation saying I was hard worker, blah, blah. They then said I’m probably wondering what I did or didn’t do, and they’d be happy to follow up. I left that day. Sent a follow up email asking if they explain what wasn’t working and I got no response from the account guy, just AJ V. saying he didn’t work with me directly so he didn’t know what was going on and good luck. That was my first job experience, haven’t had luck finding anything since.

  • @ginidietrich @megmroberts I love it! Great post and points made here. Can’t wait to hear your opinion on where social belongs, of course you wouldn’t be the Gini we love without an opinion!

    By the way Gini, I listened to “Crush it” on audio which was very entertaining, definitely a better medium for him.

  • EdwardMBury

    This kind of unsubstantiated nonsense should be ignored. It’s designed to grab attention, rather than inform or inspire dialog. For the record, Media Relations makes up 2 percent of the Examination for Accreditation in Public Relations. And, for the record, I am a member of the Universal Accreditation Board, which administers and grants the APR credential.

  • @ginidietrich Yes but @garyvee said it! @NancyD68

  • Corianda

    Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! This one of the biggest thing I’ve learned (thanks to great teachers uscannenberg )–PR is no longer simply Media Relations, or Publicity–and I have to explain that a lot, especially to old-timers who still hold the Spin Doctor stigma. And I’d have to rebut Gary with the number of “social media gurus” (hate that word) or firms that similarly, botch everything, simply because they aren’t as integrated and/or holistic as a PR or Marketing team.

  • @TheJackB @ginidietrich @garyvee Jack, I so love the “there is a reason why smart people try to hire the best to do certain jobs. Measure twice, cut once.”

    I say, if you’re a 10, hire 12’s. Spend your time on your most profitable activities, and hire out the rest. Follow your passion, do what you do best, ask for help when you need it and surround yourself with those 12’s. Cheers! Kaarina

  • Interesting piece, Gini. I think you’re right. A mixture of both is a good recipe for success.

    Just putting an enthusiastic employee in charge of social media won’t meet your needs. They don’t know the nuances of the platforms. And an agency won’t care as much as someone directly invested in your company.

    Bringing in an outsider to help guide an “insider” is a great approach. You get the best of both worlds. The only danger comes in selecting that outsider. Too many agencies and freelancers are misrepresenting their knowledge of social media these days. Either they’re truly delusional and THINK they get it (when they clearly don’t) or they are clearly misleading folks who don’t know any better. Too many shysters out there willing to take money from folks who need some guidance through these new social media waters.

    Everyone needs to remember to do their research. Find outside counsel who talks the talk. Their own social media streams should be an example of their approach and how they can help YOU. If their online presence stinks, so will yours.


  • Nick

    I just went to this page to look at your super cool new Follow and LinkedIn buttons at the top of this page. I am not really opinionated enough to comment on articles. @ginidietrich

  • @KDillabough Exactly. I am pretty handy & I like doing things around the house. But since my time is limited I am often happy to hire experts to do some of the things that I can do. They do it faster and often better than I can. It frees my time up to focus on other things. @ginidietrich @garyvee

  • adamtoporek

    @ginidietrich And I thought my ears were burning because my AC was on the fritz today. Of course, it would be a pleasure and an honor to return!

  • intuitivebridge

    Hey Gini-

    Two things-

    First, your headline is misleading. PR firms don’t botch 95 percent of their social media campaigns. You’re quoting an nonscientific anecdote from Gary Vaynerchuk where he says that 95% of the campaigns that he’s seen are by PR firms.

    Secondly, I know people formerly from PR who do amazing work in social media. Melissa Lion of CMD, who does social media campaigns for Intel, does a brilliant job. I deeply appreciate you bringing some real expertise to this subject.

  • ginidietrich

    @jeanniecw Um, @garyvee do you see this? Prom King! You in?

    You know, Jeannie, this is a really good point and should be part of a larger conversation. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about nothing. I had more than 300 comments. A couple of clients said, “Do that for us!” Um, you can’t just do that. That’s three years of building relationships, real relationships, with people.

    Gary is great because he’s passionate AND knowledgeable. But can what he’s done to his wine shop work for other businesses? Doubtful.

  • ginidietrich

    @PatrickStrother I don’t know. We don’t do our own PR. Last week I had a call with a prospect who said, “What do you mean you don’t do media relations? I thought you did PR?” I spent 30 minutes explaining all of the other things we do.

  • ginidietrich

    @PattiRoseKnight When we do our own PR.

  • ginidietrich

    @intuitivebridge That’s why I used the question mark at the end. 🙂 And, I agree. There are plenty of PR, marketing, advertising, customer service, executives, etc., who are VERY good at social media. It doesn’t belong to one group or industry.

  • ginidietrich

    @WordsDoneWrite A-freaking-men! To start: If they claim, themselves, to be an expert, they’re not. If they don’t have case studies to back up their claims, they’re wrong for you. If they don’t have references to provide, run. If they can’t talk about measurement, don’t hire them. AND…if they don’t use the tools, they have NO idea how they really work.

  • ginidietrich

    @Corianda It’s appalling, but even new-timers think we just do publicity. We need to do our own PR.

  • ginidietrich

    @EdwardMBury The problem is that most business leaders, who will read this book, don’t know it’s unsubstantiated.

  • ginidietrich

    @DavidM Just like any industry, there are bad pros in ours. That doesn’t make all of us bad. At. All.

  • ginidietrich

    @LimelitePR Or how to say it quickly and without repercussion. It’s funny. We just had a new business meeting where the prospect said social media will not be used outside of marketing and PR. If we work with this company, it will be our goal to change their minds AND to teach them to fish without us. I always say around here that we need to work ourselves out of jobs.

  • ginidietrich

    @TheJackB @KDillabough As a new business owner, that was REALLY hard for me to understand in the beginning. But, there are some things (even if you’re really good at them) that should be delegated so you can focus on, I don’t know, running and growing the company.

  • ginidietrich

    @Nick CHICKEN!

  • ginidietrich

    @Leon I have read it! I’m a big fan of the Ries’s!

  • ginidietrich

    @patrickreyes Based on my experience, the marketing teams we work with have one goal: Sell. And they’re so accustomed to doing that through their means that adding another channel, they feel, gives them another way to sell. We spend A LOT of time educating and helping them, well, take the French out of everything they do.

  • ginidietrich

    @Jmodio Holy cow. I don’t have any idea what to say. Sounds to me like they made a poor decision in hiring you, not because of you, but because they either didn’t have the cash to keep you on board or they weren’t ready for digital communication. I’m sorry.

  • ginidietrich

    @rachaelseda I should listen to Thank You Economy on audio. That’s definitely worth my time.

  • ginidietrich

    @adamtoporek You should move here. We don’t need AC.

  • jamiemorgancda

    @ginidietrich @WordsDoneWrite I had to like this comment several times. It says it all!!!

  • Jmodio

    @ginidietrich The person who they hired and took over the account after me turned out to be a friend of a friend. Small world. I think it was a mix of office politics and the face that I was trying to do something with the character different from their perspective, but they didn’t tell me what they wanted or expected. I asked if the client had an issue with the account, and they said, it was an internal decision. I now know to make sure everything is on the table before hand.

  • ginidietrich

    @jamiemorgancda @WordsDoneWrite LOL! Too bad we can’t triple like comments.

  • Jmodio

    @ginidietrich The person who they hired and took over the account after me turned out to be a friend of a friend. Small world. I think it was a mix of office politics and the fact that I was trying to do something with the character different from their perspective, but they didn’t tell me what they wanted or expected. I asked if the client had an issue with the account, and they said, it was an internal decision. I now know to make sure everything is on the table before hand and ask plenty of questions.

  • ginidietrich

    @Jmodio Yeah…it’s a hard lesson, but now you know.

  • Jmodio

    @ginidietrich Yeah, definitely. It helped in my direction. I really want to get into social or digital/mobile strategy now, just need that experience.

  • Corianda

    @ginidietrich The cobbler’s children have no shoes…

  • Corianda

    @megmroberts Agree with your comment about the push channel. Major pet peeve, personally, is when a Twitter stream is nothing but press release links. If it annoys YOU, what makes you think your consumers won’t feel the same.

  • ginidietrich

    @Corianda Not if I have anything to do with it!

  • @ginidietrich @TheJackB That’s that whole difference between working “in” a business and “on” a business…like “I don’t know, running and growing the company.” Spot on as usual Gini!

  • ginidietrich

    @KDillabough It’s a super hard lesson. But no one can teach it to you…you have to figure it out all by yourself.

  • Leon

    G’Day Gini,

    Did you know that earlier this year, the readers of “Advertising Age” voted “Poitioning;The Battle for the Mind,” by Al and Jack Trout, the”greatest marketing book ever.” It was first published in 1981!



  • @ginidietrich Agreed. Experience is the greatest teacher of all, and no one can fast-track or give another person experience. It’s a gift we give ourselves.

  • ginidietrich

    @Leon I should re-read that. Great idea!

  • al.pittampalli

    Gary is a fiery one, and you can’t take what he says too literally. He makes generalizations out of his passion for change. I think if you were to sit him down and talk to him, he would admit that there are good PR folks that get it too.

  • mdbarber

    @Leon That’s amazing but it was a classic too.

  • mdbarber

    85% of statistics are made up…or something like that. Because I type it here, you can assume it’s fact. But I made it up and so did this dude. It’s not okay for anyone to do that. But…this dude chose to make up a statistic that puts our profession in a bad light. I wish he’d go pick on someone else’s profession and hope he regrets picking on ours. i really tire of people who don’t do their homework and make brash generalizations such as this about anything.

    And then there’s the media relations piece…Public relations is just about media. It never has been. Not yesterday, not last year, not 30 years ago…never. I think this has happened in many cases because it’s the easiest to way to explain what we do to others. We put clients on television. But it’s really not what we do. The piece of our profession I care about most is the counsel and positioning; the digging into the problems to find the communication solutions. But that’s not as glamorous so we don’t talk about it as freely since .

    Thanks for being a champion for us and for helping the community have a voice.

  • Ironic that in a space where trust is key, you can’t trust one of the most influential voices. I’ve watched several of Gary’s presentations but have yet to read the books. He’s got a hell of a lot of passion and enthusiasm but facts are important too.

    WWBS – What would the bibliography say?

  • amvandenhurk

    @mdbarber Say it loud! Totally agree with you.

  • knowledgenotebk

    @ginidietrich, Probably PR with a vertical focus can go a long way! Any such one into consumer software?

  • adamtoporek

    @ginidietrich If I have to look at the face of my miserable, hyperventilating dog in this heat again, you might sell me. She’d absolutely love the “breeze” (i.e. arctic death wind) from Lake Michigan in January, just not so sure I would. 🙂

  • prlab

    This bloke Vaynerchuk obviously knows zilch about PR (and reputation management, the heart of PR). He’s just lost his credibility and reputation. There really is some crap masquerading as credible material. The publisher should also be taken to task. I wouldn’t even discuss anything further than that. It doesn’t warrant discussion. What is does warrant is a campaign against shoddy work like this. @pr_doctor

  • KimDavies

    Hi, Gini.

    You are SO right. PR is not all about publicity, it is that and so much more. When I was still a reporter, I had to cover business press conferences and I really admired the PR people that run them. You know immediately who among them really cared and those who were doing their jobs just for the sake of it.

    The great ones were all over the place taking care of the needs of everyone and they made sure the presentations were perfect. They did not just kiss up to the media to get more publicity, they really took the time to ensure that everyone got what they needed. Now, that is PR work!

    Thanks for sharing this, Gini. It was a worthwhile read. 🙂

  • @ginidietrich @jamiemorgancda @WordsDoneWrite I just like it that Amber said “shyster”. One of my favorite terms to describe a “douche canoe” formerly known as “douche bag”. 🙂

  • @KDillabough @ginidietrich Nothing like a good swift kick in the pants kind of gift to set you on the road to proper business development and management! 🙂

  • I am sad that Gary V wrote that in his book (even if it was a ghost writer – wait, that was for Crush It, maybe not this one) and like you’ve said so many times here, that it will be read and regaled by so many business owners out there. Just look at some of the wow factor here by his stopping by. He’s up there! He’s someone that influences people – a lot of people. I’m disappointed because I read his book (and yes, the writing was not my style – more like an excited frat boy) but I have to say it was one of the single most important factors that got me to jump into video! That, and your video, of course. 🙂 So, I have to say he influenced me.

    Unfortunately, those that we put up on pedestals do fall and this one just tumbled for me.

  • ginidietrich

    @al.pittampalli I agree and I love the way he creates such strong advocacy around his brand. The problem is most business leaders don’t know that, but will read this book and take it for gospel.

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  • ginidietrich

    @amvandenhurk @mdbarber He told me on Twitter last night that this stat was based on his own experience so there is that. But I totally agree that putting our clients on TV isn’t really what we do. It’s frustrating that our industry has such a bad perception issue. Little by little we’ll change it!

  • ginidietrich

    @lgdrew He told me this is based on his own experience, but the thing that bothers me is business leaders are going to read this and take it for gospel. Oh no! We can’t have PR involved in our social efforts. Let’s keep them in the corner talking to media.

  • ginidietrich

    @knowledgenotebk PR, in general, can go a long way. We’ve always built relationships so it shouldn’t matter who it’s with.

  • ginidietrich

    @prlab LOL! I agree. The industry needs a good advocate. Badly.

  • ginidietrich

    @KimDavies It’s just like anything else: It’s about the relationships. If you can’t build relationships with human beings, you’ll be found out and your work will be affected. Why is it so hard for people to get?

  • ginidietrich

    @EricaAllison I was doing video before I read Crush It, but I thought the point he made in there was excellent. It’s about having your own unique voice and showcasing you. I’m not taking away anything from either book. I just really hate that business leaders will read this and, the next time PR is in the room discussing social efforts, they’ll shy away.

  • CristerDelaCruz

    I’ve been meaning to comment on this since yesterday (especially after first reading the title and thinking “This is gonna be gooooooood!!!”). People have probably already covered everything I’m going to say, but I’ll say it anyway 🙂

    Having 15 years of experience on the client side and being the one who has hired the agencies, I can honestly say that it’s not a matter of PR vs. advertising. Simply, there are good AND bad agencies in both the public relations AND advertising camps. But if we MUST differentiate… from MY experience as the client, it’s was the ad agencies who had the agendas to push and the PR firms who did their best to relate from the client/our organization’s perspective (but I’m not going to pull a random number out of my… and publish it 🙂

    Even before social media tools existed, it was the PR agency who worked with us (the client) in creating a community engagement/relationship-building strategy regarding a fairly sensitive issue, and it was the ad agency who pushed “buy ad space and billboards”. Really dudes, really?!?! Advertising space pertaining to a community health topic and create more questions instead of answering the ones that are already running rampant?!?!? *shake head*.

    To make a claim as he did, clearly indicates that he has no concept of the full extent of what PR does. And like what many here have voiced, it’s sad, disappointing and unfortunate that someone who is so highly regarded can make blanket statements without having the solid facts to back it up.

  • garyvee

    @CristerDelaCruz did you read the whole chapter? I really feel this is being taken out of context:( I didn’t use an absolute number, I was speaking to an early observation I have seen 🙁 im sad 1 sentence out of a 150 page book is beig focused on out of the context of the rest 🙁 that said I have learned how to word things better and I see my mistakes

  • garyvee

    @EricaAllison I would love to meet u one on one, I really am surprised that te comment was taken out of the context it was meant, did u read the book?

  • garyvee

    I just want to point out that I adore PR and am well aware of all the awesome things it can do, I would hope many of you read the few pages not just sentence to understand the context I was writing about things I have seen in the market and was debating push marketing – I am so sorry so many of you are now upset with me but please understand if you read it within the context of the book I wasn’t trying to hurt or diss PR, I practically agree with every comment here 🙁

  • garyvee

    @prlab PR doc did u read the book? The pages around this one sentence? I just want you to know I am a huge fan of PR and use it an adore it 🙁 super sad this happened over a statement that was a small observation but I have learned from it and thank all of u

  • @garyvee has a point that it’s out of context. But whether or not the meaning changes much in the context doesn’t change the fact that generalizations can be harmful.

    And @ginidietrich, that is bothersome! It’s scary to me that people believe generalizations without looking further into the issue.

  • HowieSPM

    @garyvee I want to expand things to the fact that most Social Media Campaigns have not produced sizable sales. This goes for PR, Marketing etc. When the Ad Contrarian and I thrashed the Mashable coverage of a Nielsen study last year trying to prove Facebook Marketing works the threw out the 100+ campaigns that fails and cherry picked 20+ to show it works every time.

    You are an example of people to people which I am very much a strong proponent for. Just like @ginidietrich has this community due to similar efforts of relating with people personally.

    But brand are not people. Use social for listening or customer service. But I do not see it as a sales mover for big companies. There is zero scale. You can’t touch personally one million people. You can push to them. But then of course that is not Social. A fortune 500 company would need 5,000 employees to possibly generate 1 million die hard customers using social assuming 1 employee can get to know 200 customers. You can not do that on Twitter or Facebook.

    I have seen you work your phones in your video casts on U Stream Gary. Imagine if 10,000 people were on hold? And a big company needs that exponentially. So my point is it is not a PR issue it is a platform not meant for marketing in my opinion.

  • ginidietrich

    @garyvee I took that pull-out out of context for two reasons: 1) It was designed, in the book, to be read as a stand-alone (from the sounds of it, a decision by the publisher) and 2) Because there isn’t any context that can make a PR pro feel better about 95% of the botched social media campaigns, from your experience, coming from our industry.

    When someone with your influence and stature says, “Please, companies, stop hiring PR firms to do your community management,” you’re putting all of us in a bad light. It scares me that business leaders will read that and, the next time one of us is in the room, they’ll have an immediate prejudice.

    The PR industry gets a bad rap. We’re seen as spin doctors and media flacks. The goal of this blog is to elevate the conversation and call out things, like this, when they represent an entire industry.

    I respect you even more for coming by here several times to talk with our community. I was a fan before; now I’m a bigger fan.

  • ginidietrich

    @lgdrew It IS bothersome. And so is “Please, companies, stop hiring PR firms for community management” because it not only is a generalization, it’s a recommendation by a trusted, and influential, author.

  • @CristerDelaCruz Just wanted to pop by and say “Hi!”. Chantelle! 🙂

  • ginidietrich

    @DannyBrown @CristerDelaCruz LMAO!!

  • garyvee

    @ginidietrich @garyvee I so get it! SO GET IT! I respect that and appreciate your 3 cents

  • garyvee

    @ginidietrich @lgdrew i agree Gini, the wording and energy of the statement could have been more clear 🙁

  • robbyslaughter

    @KimDavies What are some PR activities in that other 90% that CLEARLY fall under the “not publicity” heading?

  • ginidietrich

    @robbyslaughter @KimDavies There are lots of things: Crisis, reputation management, events, community service, internal communication, employee engagement, etc. Publicity is such a tiny part of what we do that it’s kind of annoying that people think that’s all we do.

  • robbyslaughter

    @ginidietrich @KimDavies Then I guess it’s a matter of definition, because most of those (and all of them, if you count internal audiences as a public) sound to me like “publicity. ” Wikipedia says that “publicity is the deliberate attempt to manage the public’s perception of a subject.”

    I know that’s a rather sharp way of putting things, but I’m looking for an aspect of PR that *doesn’t* have as its primary objective the intent to manage perception. I think that the reason people are confused about PR—and the reason they foolishly associate 95% of bad social media campaigns to PR agencies—is they think that PR agencies are willing to take ethically questionable actions in their pursuit of perception management.

    I feel like everything I’ve ever known a PR professional to do falls under the heading of managing public perception. That’s just fine! That’s the reason clients hire PR firms! The question is *how* PR pros do this work. Some (most!) are very ethical and professional. A few aren’t. Enough bad things happen to inspire ridiculous “95% statements” and here we are.

  • megmroberts

    @robbyslaughter @ginidietrich @KimDavies Publicity is more about attracting external public interest, usually in the form of media attention (

    Public relations IS about managing public perception among a variety of internal and external “publics.” The point many in this stream are trying to make is that publicity – often used interchangeably with media relations – is just one tool a PR professional can use to manage an organization’s reputation and public perception.

    Regardless of these semantics, it still comes down to why it’s wrong to publish sweeping generalizations without substantive supporting data. I’ve had a few bad experiences with doctors and know numerous others who have as well, but I would never say that “doctors botch 95% of their medical cases’ ” without including qualified research and statistics to support this claim.

  • jeanniecw

    @garyvee @ginidietrich I couldn’t help myself. I blogged today about the lessons in accepting feedback from this post and the comments.

  • jamiemorgancda

    @EricaAllison @ginidietrich @WordsDoneWrite Oooh douche canoe I LIKE that. Will have to use it in the future 🙂

  • JGoldsborough

    @garyvee @ginidietrich First of all, good to see you hear listening and engaging, Gary. Lesson to anyone out there listening…My comment went from critical to constructive tone as soon as I saw you were participating. Engagement disarms critics. Just sayin.

    Second, while I have some worries about how the 95% stat will be taken out of context, I do want to point out that no one should be working with just a PR agency, or just a marketing agency or just an ad agency (the latter of which are much more guilty of being push businesses). In today’s world, you need an integrated agency…an agency that can provide a 10,000-foot view and explain how all the pieces of marketing communications go together with customer service and culture to create a customer experience and a brand perception.

    It’s called public relations because we have years and years invested in that name and perception. But what’s inside, for those doing it right like GD, is strategic communications. We just have to get past that exterior perception sometimes to help corporate leadership see the value. And quotes like yours — no matter the context you meant it in — can make that harder. Because if so many of us haven’t read the book yet and took that quote as a stand alone, think how many others will do the same and take it to heart. Cheers.

  • KimDavies

    @ginidietrich Maybe it’s because they think they can get away with just focusing on themselves and the returns they can get. These people! Tsk, tsk, tsk!

  • KimDavies

    @ginidietrich @robbyslaughter – There you go, Rob. Gini has the answers for you.

  • KimDavies

    @megmroberts @robbyslaughter @ginidietrich – Well said, Meg. 🙂

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  • ginidietrich

    @KimDavies These people is right!

  • ginidietrich

    @JGoldsborough What he said!

  • prlab

    Now I read someone quoting a definition of public relations from WIkipedia (yes, you, robynslaughter). There really are some people who have no concept of credible sources, and of course this debate stemmed from that fact. Get your fact right for start, because everything begins with research.

  • prlab

    Even if one sentence was taken out of context; that sentence is not based on fact. The statistics are rubbish. If that’s the case, how much of the rest of the book is baseless? That’s why it doesn’t deserve a read. People, it’s a published work. Sources and statements have to be credible.

  • ginidietrich

    @prlab That is exactly my feeling!

  • The problem with PR agencies is they don’t view their work as one with people, but as one with the public. Nobody calls it people relations. I say they should:

    Because they don’t identify their customers as people, they will continue to fail with anything social.

  • megmroberts

    @Ari Herzog

  • megmroberts

    @Ari Herzog Hi Ari! I wanted to jump in because I think this statement falls into the broad generalization category that got many of us upset in the first place. I work at a PR agency and I identify my customers (clients) as people and I also value my client’s customers as people. There are many PR agencies that do social well just as there are many that don’t.

    Generalizations, especially negative ones, do not help improve the communications (PR, marketing, advertising…) industry, either in reputation or practice.

  • garyvee

    @prlab but I didnt say it as a fact, i said it as a quote, u know? meaning 95% of what I have seen 🙁 anyway I agree with u

  • GnosisArts

    Oh everyone knows garyvee exaggerates and falsifies data to make points. It’s part of the reason his stuff goes viral. If we take his statements with the grain of salt their worth, blog reactions like this would cease to exist.

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    @garyvee Nice PR here Gary – responding to your ‘customers’ the people, us – the readers, posters bloggers, with honesty in real-time. 🙂 This whole post is a good case study in itself!

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  • RizzoTees

    We are attacking a statistic that just isn’t right. That being said, are PR firms good at community management?

  • Another good post I’ve missed. The “Thank You Economy” is on my recommended reading list, so good to be forewarned and forearmed about what’s to come. Will also add a “what he/she said” to a bunch of these comments, as well a nod to @garyvee for mixing it up here and you @ginidietrich for trying to raise the level of debate and sparking an informative and helpful discussion. Would that 95% of the business leaders would read this (and the comments!). FWIW.

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