Gini Dietrich

12 Days of Christmas: Ten PR Pros to Follow

By: Gini Dietrich | December 19, 2017 | 
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PR Pros to FollowOn the tenth day of Christmas, Spin Sucks gave to you 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.

We are in the home stretch and today, in our week of honoring communicators, we have 10 PR pros for you to follow.

In the past couple of years, we’ve taken nominations for these slots.

This year, I chose them on my own, based on their contributions to our shared vision of changing the way people perceive our industry.

They are PR pros who are doing things the right way—from integrating a PESO model program to measuring results.

PR Pros I’ve Known Forever

Kate Childress, or Katherine as I knew her, was my boss at FleishmanHillard.

I loved, loved, loved working with her.

Not only is she incredibly smart, she’s funny and kind.

She was the type of boss who wanted you to grow and never held you down or back.

Just the other day, I remembered a story of my calling her at 2 a.m. (I still don’t know why I did that) because the hotel I had checked into for work was horrendous.

It was the King Arthur Inn somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin.

It had purple shag carpeting on the walls…and cockroaches in the bathroom.

I think I called her because I was exhausted, all of 24 years old, and truly had no idea what to do.

I’ll always remember that she never got angry with me. She just talked me off a ledge.

After years of experience on both the agency and client sides, Kate has started her own business—Picnic Communications.

She’s definitely one to follow and watch.

Another Oldie, but Goodie

I first met Roger Friedensen at the annual Counselors Academy conference.

I can’t even tell you which one it was or where we were in the country, but it feels like I’ve known him my entire life.

He runs Forge Communications in Raleigh and I’ve watched him evolve his business during the past decade.

It’s become a communications firm with roots in research and strategy to include an integrated approach.

He also is an artist in the vein of Pete Townshend and if you are ever with him, you can count on his guitar coming out.

There have been many a night sitting around a campfire or in a hotel bar listening to him play.

PR Pros Who Have it All

I first met Kimberly Crossland when she took the Modern Blogging Masterclass.

She instantly used the concepts and process taught in the class to grow her business.

Then she began to teach it, which I’ve always admired because you truly have mastered something when you can teach others.

She’s the mom of two young boys, runs a growing business, and is a multi-tasker like I’ve never seen.

Want to get some work done, but your baby won’t sleep unless you walk him?

No problem!

Get the baby bjorn, your laptop, and a treadmill desk and you are set.

Seriously, she is the bomb.

She is the reason women believe we can have it all.

She just makes it work.

Another Who Can Balance

Along the same vein is Jen Novotny.

I’ve known Jen for a long time, but got to know her really well when she interviewed for our chief content officer role.

I loved her. The team loved her.

She did not love the hours and pace at which we work.

She told me it was a dream job for her, but she couldn’t take it at the expense of spending time with her three girls.

I hope she doesn’t mind my telling that story, but I’ve always respected that about her.

Most people would take the job, it wouldn’t work out, and it would end badly.

Because she knows who she is and what’s important to her, I selfishly got to remain good friends with her.

She also taught me something very powerful—how to say no.

And Then Those Who Claim They Aren’t PR Pros

I give Betsy Decillis a hard time all the time because she has not joined the PR Dream Team.

I mean, it was made for her.

Her reason?

She says she’s not a PR pro.

From where I sit, the types of things she does for her clients is exactly what the modern communicator does.

She runs BAD Consulting, which does content marketing and social media in the tourism industry.

Sounds like PR to me…don’t you think?

PR is not just events and media relations anymore.

Betsy is the gold standard when it comes to the types of things every modern communicator should do.

Plus, she’s hilarious and not afraid of anyone or anything and I love her for that.

PR Pros Who Make Me Laugh

Jon Goldberg is another Counselors Academy friend who has, hands-down, the best sense of humor on the planet.

He is smart and witty and quick.

Oftentimes he’ll say something that is so funny and so fast that I get mad at myself for not thinking of it first.

He’s just smarter than the rest of us, but at least I understand his sense of humor, so I have that going for me.

To boot, when someone posts a question or challenge in the Counselors Academy Facebook group, he always has something insightful and interesting to share.

You can learn a lot from him.

The founder of Reputation Architects, Jon is of the communications breed who gets serious and measurable work accomplished.

If you can ever buy him a drink, I highly recommend it.

Laugh Until I Have an Asthma Attack

Ken Jacobs is another Counselors Academy friend who needs no introduction to the Spin Sucks community.

As he’s evolved his career from agency hack to PR firm coach and now business coach, he’s hung around here.

He pretends it’s to teach us everything we know, but I know it’s because he learns a lot here, even though he’d never admit it in a million years.

In fact, I had a dream the other night that we were at the beach and he told some strangers he taught me everything I know about social media.

This should not come as a surprise to anyone who has been witness to us bickering.

He tells everyone that when, in fact, it’s the other way around.

I just smile and nod because he has an uncanny ability to make me laugh so hard, I have an asthma attack.

So I put up with his shenanigans to keep him around.

When PR Pros Teach

I met Kelli Matthews on Twitter way back in the day, and in person when she made her annual students trip to Chicago.

She teaches at the University of Oregon and heads one of the best communications programs in the country.

Every summer, she and 10 or so communications students come to Chicago to visit the agencies and see what’s going on in the industry.

Just last week, I met one of her students who was in town interviewing and I was completely blown away.

There isn’t a single flake in any of their graduating classes.

Kelli invited me a couple of years ago to be an executive in residence in Eugene and it was one of the very best experiences of my life.

They know what they’re doing out there.

It almost made me want to pack it all in, move there, and teach.

Almost.

PR Pros Who Give Back

Samantha McCain went from living the life of a remote agency employee to helping special needs to kids to electing a candidate and now running communications for the city.

All in the short time I’ve known her (maybe four years?).

She lives in Hattiesburg, Mississippi and she has this accent that is both charming and endearing.

She also claims to not know how to adult and her stories of things gone wrong in adulthood are hilarious—and also endearing.

I’ve watched her learn to love running and other types of cardio exercise—and combine that with her love for our industry.

She and Stella (her rescue dog) are staples among the modern communications world and it would behoove you to get to know her.

PR Pros With Multiple Talents

Last, but not least…and only because her last name is last in this group of whippersnappers, Jen Phillips is a communications pro and a baker.

A few years ago, she asked me if I’d be interested in joining a private Facebook group dedicated to baking alongside the British Bake Off.

Um, yes.

To say I was able to even remotely keep up with those humans is not fair—I couldn’t.

But I’ve made lifelong friends and my family got to eat some yummy treats.

Today, baking has gone by the wayside so I have to keep up through Jen.

Who, by-the-way, made biscoff cookies the other night and I think she should send me some.

All those in favor, say aye!

Jen works with CustomScoop, runs 4L Strategies, and is often a co-host on Shel Holtz’s For Immediate Release.

You also can find her writing at Media Bullseye.

She is definitely one to watch as she brilliantly evolves her own business.

Now it’s Your Turn

And now the floor is yours.

Which PR pros do you insist we follow and get to know?

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

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!

  • paulakiger

    Great list!

  • Jen

    Oh, Gini…now I HAVE to send you some cookies (nice plan!). Thank you so much for including me on this list, what great company to be listed with–I am honored!

    PS–For those paying attention: Gini kept up just fine with the baking group, she made some pretty fancy treats! She is a powerhouse of talent.

    • I mean, I really want to try your biscoff cookies.

  • Off to follow some of these people now!

  • Edward M. Bury

    I will try harder and promise not to be naughty in 2018; hopefully I’ll be added to the list. Seriously, thanks for sharing these memories.

    • EB! Were your ears burning a month ago? I was working with the APR committee for PRSA Tulsa and I talked about you.

      • Edward M. Bury

        Good Afternoon: Thanks and I’m flattered to be part of the conversation. There’s a new Accredited member on the PRSA Chicago board who just relocated here from Tulsa. Will welcome all the support available to advance Accreditation. Say,weren’t you once interested in earning the APR?

        • I was once…but it’s not the direction I’m headed anymore. With two businesses to run, a family, and cycling, I feel like I’ve earned my APR, MBA, and PhD in one.

          • Edward M. Bury

            Yes, Professor Gini Dietrich. Or, better yet: PRofessor Gini Dietrich.

  • Cris Hay-Merchant

    Such a fantastic list, each one is like a gift under the tree to unwrap! Thanks, Gini and merry everything and happy always to you and the Spin Sucks team!

  • Susan Stoga

    Great list, Gini. Following NOW

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