PR Dream Team MembersOn the eleventh day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you 11 PR Dream Team members, 10 PR pros to follow, nine phrases to ban, eight PR blogs to read, seven online courses, six PR professional development opps, five productivity tools, four PR pro giftsthree PR trends, two PR books, and one habit to change in 2018.

In 2011, I sat down with our banker and presented a business plan for Spin Sucks.

I’ll admit today that it was a little lofty—we had big aspirations and no clue what we were doing.

But I’ll never forget the look on his face when he told me people would never buy information products online and that I needed to have my head adjusted (in not so many words).

It still feels like a kick to the stomach (and he’s no longer our banker).

Though it hasn’t grown as much or as quickly as I would like, he was wrong.

People do buy information products online, particularly if you offer them tons of value.

The PR Dream Team History

Part of our plan for Spin Sucks has always been to offer some sort of paid component to our community.

The Spin Sucks community is one of the most vibrant, engaged, interesting, honest, and kind on the web.

When they say you shouldn’t read the comments, they were not talking about Spin Sucks.

You can read every comment here and not feel attacked or wonder what has happened to the intelligence of mankind.

I’m biased, of course, but it’s my favorite place to hang out.

That’s why I knew the PR Dream Team had to happen.

This past summer, I was sitting on my front porch talking shop with our friend Harry and we were extolling the virtues of Slack.

He said, “Why can’t you build your community there?”

Uh…why not, indeed!

His off-the-cuff comment and our vision for Spin Sucks launched the PR Dream Team.

We launched it as a beta in February because, one of the gazillion things I’ve learned from Danny Iny is to launch smaller, but faster.

We spent six months tweaking things, getting things right, and getting feedback on the content offered—and then we opened to the public in October.

And today, I’d like to honor some of the PR Dream Team members who have made it one of the best places on the internet to hang out.

11 PR Dream Team Members

The PR Dream Team members who continue to engage, welcome new members, ask questions, provide feedback, and make us laugh are:

  1. Maris Callahan
  2. Lou Draper
  3. Debbie Johnson
  4. Paula Kiger
  5. Hanna Knowles
  6. Simon Locke
  7. Rachael Seda
  8. Lynn Shepherd
  9. Eden Spodek
  10. Aimee West
  11. Karen Wilson

Won’t Take No for an Answer

One of my favorite memories of Maris is me sitting on a windowsill at O’Hare while talking to her on the phone.

I was detailing all of the reasons she shouldn’t hire us for her former employer—and she was not taking no for an answer.

We ended up working together and did really great work.

Now that she’s moved on, we’ve welcomed her with open arms to the PR Dream Team.

You can bet to have stories about her dog, Henry, crazy dreams she’s had, or intense problem-solving.

The Resident Kiwi

Lou is one of our Modern Blogging Masterclass students and our resident Kiwi.

Right before Thanksgiving, she asked if everyone in America eats turkey—and, just the other day, she marveled on Facebook at the size of our Christmas trees.

She’s a ton of fun to have around because she has no qualms making fun of Americans, and she provides interesting tidbits on New Zealand.

Plus, she’s offered asylum to anyone who wants to escape the political nightmare we’re in.

(Or, maybe that’s just for me.)

You can see a video from her in Gin and Topics at least once a month, and it’s always certain to be hilarious.

We love Lou.

Good Things Happen When You Tweet

Debbie joined the Spin Sucks community, and then the PR Dream Team, earlier this year and she became a fast cornerstone.

A few months ago, she casually mentioned that she got her job by live tweeting “Scandal,” and we had to learn more.

(You can read about that here.)

I mean, the show has jumped the shark, but live tweeting it has led to more than just a group of people watching together.

She loves to write, keeps a journal, and says she’s training for a marathon.

Did you ever run that marathon, Debbie?

She’s also a Cardinals fan. I try to overlook that.

The Big Green Pen

Paula likely need no introduction.

She has been a Spin Sucks staple since the very beginning.

I joke that I have to have the custom tweet for the latest blog post written by 6:44 every morning because, once that sucker publishes one minute later, Paula is on it.

She goes by the moniker Big Green Pen, signs everything in green (even her text hearts), and sends green pens far and wide.

We also have this ongoing bet that the Chicago postal service is about three weeks delayed—if they deliver at all.

She is, hands-down, one of the most generous people I have ever come across and I’m proud to call her friend.

My Cycling Buddy

I got to know Hanna Knowles via social media a few years ago, and was so intrigued by her forward-thinking and motivation, I invited her to the Inquisition.

(Back when we still did those.)

At the time, she lived in Mississippi and was working for a college doing their communications work.

She’s since moved to Oregon, where she spends a good amount of her time outside—and posts photos.

I think her goal is to make me as envious as possible.

She’s a runner, a cyclist, and someone to watch from a communications perspective.

Even if she does do it in one of the most gorgeous parts of the country.

Matchmaker, Matchmaker

I met Simon through Ken Jacobs, which always makes me a little sad.

It’s hard to admit anything comes from that friendship, but Simon is definitely one thing.

He recently started a business to match PR firms with clients in need, called CommunicationsMatch.

He also just launched a next day crisis and opinion survey tool, which looks really interesting.

If you do crisis work and need fast responses, check it out.

Work/Life Balance Comes Easy to This One

I had the absolute pleasure of meeting Rachael when Marketing in the Round was published and I was on book tour.

She is one of those people who is exactly like you would think from the way she behaves online.

There are no filters in her life to make things look more rosy than they are. What you see is what you get.

And she’s amazing.

A few years ago, she went out on her own to build a PR firm with a friend—and they have been killing it ever since.

She’s a mom who makes work/life balance look easy.

One of my most favorite things about her happened recently.

They had a few family photos shot and she and her husband are smiling proudly, as they each hold the hands of their little girl.

Their toddler, however, had different plans and is screaming her head off.

That is real life and I love that she posted it.

Help Lynn Get Her Master’s Degree

I recently met Lynn through my friend, Kate Childress.

She sent both of us an email a few weeks ago, introducing us and the rest, as they say, is history.

Lynn has become a very fast staple in the PR Dream Team, both contributing and giving feedback.

She’s getting her master’s degree at Syracuse and is right now fielding a survey about public relations for startups.

If you do PR for startups, or have in the past, she could use your feedback. You can find the survey here.

Help Lynn get her master’s degree in communications management!

Take the Bull By the Horns

About 14 months ago, I held an in-person mastermind meeting in Chicago.

The Cubs had just won the World Series and it wasn’t too terribly cold yet, so I invited my clients to come hang out for a couple of days.

I could have waited until mid-January, but I was being nice!

I tell you this because what happened at that meeting has become one of my favorite stories about Eden.

She was relaying some of the challenges she was having and we went into crisis, fix-it mode.

By the end of our retreat, she had a plan to kick butt in 2017.

Fast forward to today and it makes my heart proud to see how much of that plan she’s accomplished.

She re-branded to Spodek & Co., added critical team members, and finally hired herself a virtual assistant.

Most people get excited about their plans and then life gets in the way.

Not Eden. She went out and KILLED it.

The Beer Lover

Aimee joined the PR Dream Team, claiming she had no experience and needed help with fielding her career.

To say she undersold herself is putting it mildly.

In the few years I’ve known her, I’ve watched her take a passion (beer) and turn it into a career.

She’s given back to the community, twenty-fold, and she is always quick to provide feedback when someone needs it.

We also have a jobs board in our free Slack community, which Aimee contributes to at least weekly.

She’s found some open jobs even I would love to have.

We love having her around.

The Smartest American I Know

And last, but certainly not least…Karen, does it stink having a last name that starts with W? Everything is last for you.

Meet my favorite Floridian turned Canadian.

She was smart—she got out years before the rest of us needed to.

(I would lay claim to that if I were you, Karen.)

In the many years I’ve known her, she’s been a business owner and event coordinator.

In fact, she used to run one of the largest social media events in Ottawa.

Those were the days!

She recently took a content roll at Titus, an organization that protects your data online, and is—let’s just say—slowly bringing their communications into the 21st century.

She’s definitely one to watch—she knows what she’s doing and she’s lots of fun to have around.

You Can Join This Merry Band of Fellows

It’s not fair that I chose only 11 PR Dream Team members to highlight.

The community, as a whole, is what makes it great.

But these are the people who tirelessly give back consistently…and it’s the eleventh day of Christmas so I was a little handcuffed.

If you’d like to take it for a test spin and see what it’s all about, we’d love to have you.

You can learn more and join here.

And, if you’re already a member, who else would you recommend for our list?

The 30-Day Communications Challenge begins on January 3.  Have you subscribed?

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

View all posts by Gini Dietrich