Mea Culpa: I'm SorryOn June 25, our blog subscribers begin to receive our daily (ONCE daily) two times a day. Sort of annoying, but not life-threatening.

At the same time, we couldn’t figure out why it was happening. We searched high and low. There was only one campaign that was set to check for a new article at 7 a.m. each day. And, because we only write one article a day, it theoretically should only find—and send—one article a day. Apparently this does not equate in the midst of a pandemic.

Because that wasn’t the culprit, we thought maybe the lists had been duplicated. Nope.

The support team at ActiveCampaign (the software we use) couldn’t figure it out, either. They elevated it up a level.

Then last week, it started sending three times a day.

? ? ?

My new best friend in support at ActiveCampaign was also incredulous. It got elevated yet another support level. They double-checked delivery and RSS feeds and lists…and came to the same conclusion as us: it should only be delivering once a day.

And yet…

Their best guess? There is a ghost in the system.

Funny, but not good enough!

We started to bleed subscribers and I personally answered all of the emails coming into support, which quickly became a full-time job.

I couldn’t keep up.

So on Monday—out of mere frustration—I shut it all down and started over.

It’s seemingly working now—delivering only once a day (I hope I didn’t just jinx it). But whew! What an ordeal.

Don’t Read the Comments…Unless You Are Paid to Do It!

The past few months, as for everyone, have been a bit…uh…nutty?

During the last two weeks of March, we lost 80% of our agency clients.

Then I was personally fired by one of our last-standing agency clients because of a clash of values. Of course, in my very mature, emotion-ridden state, I told him he couldn’t fire me because I quit. And then we hung up on each other.

Thankfully, I learned my lesson during the Great Recession and we have more than one revenue stream. And we had just launched the PESO Model Certification (yay!) before the world collapsed. Otherwise, I’m not sure I’d be writing this today—or that we would have had the frustration of our daily email delivering three times. (Small blessings? LOL!)

But it also has freed up my time to take a deep breath and figure out what I want to do, what kind of business I want to have, and who I want to work with.

So I’ve been dabbling and taking on projects that, before now, I didn’t have time to do. And I’ve gotten back to the reason I went into business for myself—my love of helping an organization communicate their responsibility to their community and to their stakeholders.

At the same time, I’ve seen a side of people I’ve been otherwise protected from because the Spin Suck Community is so fabulous—and because I know better than to read the comments.

But when you have to read the comments as part of the client work you’re doing? Whoa, Nelly!

The Worst of the Internet Is…Wow!?!

There have been a few things I’ve learned through some of our most recent client work—and through answering email after email coming in to our support in the past week.

The biggest thing is that people assume the worst—and they seem to forget there is a human being on the other side of the computer. They assume you’re out to get them and they take whatever they think you’ve done as a personal affront.

I’m mortified our emails kept going out and none of us could figure out how to fix it. It wasn’t on purpose and I was personally trying to fix it. By Monday of this week, I was so frustrated that there wasn’t a solution yet that I broke it all down myself and started everything anew. Also, three weeks of it delivering multiple times a day is unacceptable. I kept waiting for a solution that never arrived. I joked with people who would email to say, “Still not fixed.” I never should have let it go on as long as it did. I’m incredibly sorry for that…and for all of you who had to endure our spamming your inboxes. That was a terrible mess.

But that’s minor compared to some of the mud-slinging I’ve been privy (maybe that’s not the right word?) to in the past six weeks or so.

We’ve all experienced the worst of the internet and boy-oh-boy, have I seen it!

Everything from anonymous social media posts accusing people of things that never happened and creating boycotts for companies they’ve never supported to downright crude and inappropriate language.

I often joke that I love living in my little bubble where everyone is nice and respectful and kind, even when they disagree, but that has never been more true that it is right now.

Always Assume the Best

There is enough bad going on in the world right now. Living in Chicago, I wake up every day to something else affecting our lives here. Friends and neighbors are leaving in droves. It’s not a fun time to try to be a grown-up, when all you really want to do is pull the covers up over your head and pretend everything is fine.

In the midst of all of this (well, anytime really, but especially right now), why can’t we just be nice to one another?

I feel like I’m preaching to the choir a bit because I always say the Spin Sucks Community, readers, and listeners are among the best on the internet. Perhaps this is something we can each discuss with our communities and neighbors, clients, and friends.

Everyone here does an incredible job of remaining professional and kind, respectful and non-judgmental.

It’s the type of community that every organization should have.

With that in mind, there are a few things we should all keep in mind in the days and months ahead:

  1. Boycotts. Never in history has there been a time where the value of the leaders of an organization can affect whether or not they keep their jobs or their businesses stay afloat. In many instances, it’s well-deserved and those leaders should step down or away entirely (I’m looking at you, CrossFit founder). In others, when we join a boycott or a movement without knowing more than what’s on social media, it creates a tidal wave. People lose their jobs, their benefits, their livelihoods. I’m as guilty as anyone. I’ll see something despicable and think, “Great. Another company I can’t support.” But when I dig deeper, I discover I jumped on that bandwagon far too quickly and there is more to it. Remember when there was a boycott of SoulCycle? I couldn’t bring myself to do it because I know the studio managers and the instructors personally. What one of their major investors believes personally does not represent their brand or their culture. I’ve experienced it first hand. Boycotting them would have put my friends out of jobs. I couldn’t live with myself if that happened. And I learned yesterday that through the pandemic, they have paid their team members. That is a company I want to continue to support.
  2. Anonymous posts. When things are posted anonymously, be careful. I’ve watched many a movement started from false or downright untruthful information. All because someone posted something anonymously, named an organization or its leaders, and sat back and watched the fallout. Not to say there aren’t times that these things are valid—we’ve all certainly seen it happen when they are. And we’ve all seen or maybe even participated when they’re built on a house of cards. Before sharing anything—and this goes for articles, too—do your research. Decide for yourself. There might be a very good reason it was posted anonymously (assault or PTSD or myriad other reasons). And there might be more sinister reasons, such as the person was fired for cause and has an ax to grind. Do your research. Decide for yourself.
  3. Keyboard warriors. We all know people like this. They get behind their computer screens and become very brave. They say and do things they would never do if in front of another human being. Yet, they seem to forget human beings are on the other side of the computer screen when they fire things off. When something happens that irritates you or makes you angry, assume the best—that the organization didn’t mean you harm or to personally offend you. There are two different ways of handling a situation like that: send a note that eviscerates an organization because you’re upset or angry; or you can send a note that says, “Hey, this happened and it really upset me. Can we work it out?” Guess which approach gets a better response? Like many of our mothers told us when we were kids: you attract more bees with honey.
  4. Armchair quarterbacking. This one I am very guilty of doing. I LOVE to dissect a campaign or how a crisis was handled on this very blog. Here’s the problem with that: I’m not in the room when decisions are made or, in some cases, there to see why the communicator’s hands were tied. Having worked through a massive crisis with a client these past few weeks, it’s incredibly challenging to read all the comments from the armchair QBs who are not in the room and don’t have any background as to why decisions are made. I want to respond to all of them, which I know is not smart, but that doesn’t remove my wanting to. While I will still dissect certain things here, I’ll do so with more responsibility.

Through all of this, not every organization will be altruistic or respond in kindness back (or at all). And then you have your answer. But life would be a lot more fulfilling if we’re kind to one another and we assume the best versus the worst.

Mea Culpa: I’m Sorry

As I dealt with our own minor crisis of email deliverability issues, I worked hard to respond with kindness or with some sort of joke that took the edge off the situation.

I also have very thin skin (a weakness I work very hard to overcome) so when someone is personally upset by something we’ve done, I take it pretty hard. I am the owner of this joint so if you’re upset with us, you’re upset with me.

For everyone we annoyed or made angry through this ordeal, I am sorry.

I’d love to be able to say it won’t happen again and know with 100% certainty that it won’t. But truth be told, I’m going to publish this article and hold my breath that it delivers only once today. All because we never found the culprit so I can’t guarantee it won’t happen again. Fingers crossed!

And I am sorry.

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