best of the spin sucks questionHappy New Year!

As 2018 concluded, we began talking about the best of the Spin Sucks Question posts during the first half of 2018.

We also noted that in October 2018 we decided to stop calling it “The Big Question,” in favor of The Spin Sucks Question (#SpinSucksQuestion).

They’re all, arguably, big questions, right? The goal? They are questions that matter to the Spin Sucks Community.

The Best of The Spin Sucks Question: Part 1 (a recap)

In Part 1, we acknowledged the top of the list in the first half of 2018 in terms of traffic, social sharing, and commenting (“What’s the Future of PR?“).

Following that, we identified some that generated the most discussion (“What are Your Thoughts Regarding the Zuckerberg Testimony“). Along with the one column we feel had the biggest impact (“Are You GDPR Ready?“).

But the key finding was that “best” is pretty subjective.

In Part 2, we’re addressing the second half of 2018, but also discussing what we can/should be asking about in the new year.

So, let’s get started!

The Best of The Spin Sucks Question: Part 2

As far as the most-visited Spin Sucks Question from July to now, the winner goes to “The Secrets of Good Storytelling.

It, by far, had the most traffic during that period, which warms my content-centric heart.

Like many of our featured Questions, “Secrets of Good Storytelling” is ideal because while it is a very subjective issue, any conversation and ongoing examination of storytelling can only be a good thing for our industry.

The Spin Sucks Question is Born

While, admittedly, there wasn’t a ton of data or strategy behind the theme or timing of our switch from “The Big Question” to “The Spin Sucks Question,” I feel we’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the change.

Interestingly, while the first Spin Sucks Question wasn’t the most-visited of the lot in the last half of the year, it came a close second

On October 5th, 2018, at 7:45 am ET, The Big Question officially became the #SpinSucksQuestion, and asked: “What is the Future of Traditional Media Relations?

More specifically…

The media landscape is changing. That’s not a secret or some deep insight we’ve toiled to discover.

Fake news has rattled and chipped away at the trust and credibility of, well, everything we read online. And the media business model has been having trouble finding its footing for some time.

Add to that the proliferation of online publications and a possible redefining of what counts as “media.”

A prolific YouTuber, Twitcher (love that word), and/or Instagrammer can now fall within the media category.

As communications professionals who include media relations in their practice, the landscape is changing drastically.

Which, of course, begged the #SpinSucksQuestion: What’s the future of traditional media relations?

What we found was that while some herald the demise of media relations, most speak to a redefinition or evolution. Respondents spoke to an emphasis on relationships, trust, and, ultimately, opportunity.

An auspicious beginning, to say the least, no?

If you haven’t read it yet, you really should. Go back up and click on the link. Don’t worry, we’ll wait…

Done? Good, right? You’re welcome. Anyway, let’s move on.

The Best of The Spin Sucks Question: Most Discussed

As in Part 1, we didn’t lean on metrics alone to determine which Spin Sucks Questions were the so-called best.

Case in point: This candidate didn’t garner the most traffic, although it definitely came in the top 10 traffic-wise.

That point? “What Does Work-Life Balance Mean to You?” triggered a TON of discussion in the Spin Sucks Community, and received numerous responses via our HARO query.

As it should.

Ours tends to be an always-on industry. It can be stressful and takes a toll personally and professionally. But, if you love what you do…

Here’s how we concluded:

Most of our respondents had little problem identifying what work-life balance meant to them.

Nor was there any difficulty in defining what they should or could do in order to strive for, or achieve it.

What I found most interesting? Very few spoke to how they measure success.

Katie Robbert referenced a great quotation: “The key to happiness is managing expectations.”

Sarah Parker spoke to the long term.

So is the measure of success happiness? Or is success simply found in the journey? By taking it…

For me, I know I won’t always “achieve” balance. Striving for balance (but not necessarily regretting a particular lack thereof), and acknowledging that I can do/be better is what success looks like for me.

And you? You know what balance can, could, or should look like (for you), but how do you know if you’re winning?

The Best of The Spin Sucks Question: A Sleeper Hit

Sometimes, when we come up with a Spin Sucks Question theme, we don’t necessarily have a solid sense of how well it will be received, or what kind of response it will get.

As a somewhat self-proclaimed video novice, aka someone who isn’t comfortable recording, editing, or appearing on/in video, I didn’t have huge expectations for our question asking “How Important is Video Marketing?

Not only did it rival our other top pics for traffic (third place), but it generated the most query responses in HARO in that period, and the second most over the entire year.

Calling it a “sleeper” hit isn’t fair and is more a result of my own admitted phobia, but it’s popularity did catch me by surprise.

An excerpt:

Christopher Penn is all about video.

If you ask him a question, he’ll often pull you into a live video chat.

If you are discussing a Spin Sucks guest contribution, he will push for a recorded submission (with, of course, an AI-compiled transcript).

From Chris himself:

“Video is ESSENTIAL today. It’s the root of all rich content marketing and the key to content marketing at scale. One video becomes a dozen pieces of content.”

Chris was also kind enough to provide some video marketing tips, along with his very own process for creating a new video every weekday (recorded on video, of course). You’re welcome (from Chris).

The Best of The Spin Sucks Question: The Most Fun

Selfishly, when developing ideas for the Spin Sucks Question I’m generally focused on what’s going to be the most fun to talk about, to research, to collect answers for, and, ultimately, to write.

While this “Best of” candidate didn’t generate the most traffic (still, it did come just outside of the top five!), conversation, or social shares, it was the most fun for me to read, write, and ruminate on.

When it came to “Is the Medium the Message?” the responses ranged wide. There were amazing answers on both sides of the fence.

As I noted in the introduction of that particular post:

I’ve always loved this concept. It’s one of few philosophical theories that I can get behind from both sides.

Which, of course, makes it super fun to discuss.

Think about it.

In a world dominated by the internet and social media, McLuhan’s postulations are even more relevant today than they ever were.

The format or channel we use for the story or message in question has become (or was always) part of the missive itself. It changes how audiences engage, share, and generally relate to the content.

Is that important? Absolutely. More important than the message? That’s the question!

Fun, right?

The Best of the Spin Sucks Question: What the Future Holds…

It’s a new year. Looking back and learning from what we’ve done is important, but we also have to look forward.

With that in mind, we reached out to some of our Spin Sucks Community to get some of their thoughts regarding the year ahead.

From Christopher Penn:

The most important question of 2019: when will the recession start?

It’s coming. We all know it’s coming. The yield curve inverted. WTI is dropping like a rock. Gold is back on an upswing.

So, when will the recession start, and what are we all doing to prepare for it?

Anyone under 30 (which is a lot of PR and marketing professionals) didn’t work through the last Great Recession so this will be new territory for them.

And from his business partner, Katie Robbert:

Similar theme – how to protect my company against economic highs and lows, making sure I have tight reign on all of the data/info to make smart short- and long-term decisions.

Jono Smith did an EOY recap with his own team:

Yesterday we did an EOY recap for our revenue team of all the ways marketing contributed to revenue initiatives in 2018.

When I asked “What else would you like to see on this list next year?” I heard crickets.

But it was a good reminder that marketing needs to continually be documenting and demonstrating how we contribute to the bottom line, and asking our revenue partners how else we can support them.

I love that, Jono… it’s a great message and note to end on.

The Spin Sucks Question: It’s a New Year

With that in mind, it’s important to remember that, as communicators, we can’t—ever—rest on our laurels. We can’t be ok with the status quo.

The industry, our audiences, the tools, and communication methods they use… they’re constantly changing and evolving. Voice search. AI. Chatbots. Add a recession to the mix, and the game changes.

The technology, tools, and tactics will remain, but how, when, and why we use them, along with how much people/organizations are willing to spend (and what we can charge) can change in the blink of an eye.

We hope you had a prosperous and fun 2018. The new year has a lot in store for us all!

As we noted last time, if you have thoughts on the most popular Spin Sucks Questions over the past year, or feel there are questions we’ve left woefully answered, please let us know. We’d love to hear from you.

Feel free to comment below, in our free Spin Sucks Community, or on the socials (use #SpinSucksQuestion so we can find you).

Mike Connell

Mike Connell is the director of client services at Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. He is also a contributor to the award-winning PR blog, Spin Sucks, the leading source for modern PR training, trends, and insights. Find more of Mike's musings on his blog, Communative. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

View all posts by Mike Connell