Gini Dietrich and Heather WhalingBy Gini Dietrich

Ahhhh! It’s been a few weeks since I’ve written the Spin Sucks Inquisition. I missed it!

And I have a good one for you today.

I met Heather Whaling (aka PRTini) early, early on in the Twitter days. She struck me as a really savvy communicator and I was pleased to later discover my gut was right.

The founder of Geben Communication, Heather has literally been kicking butt and taking names…all while raising a toddler.

Her agency is focused on giving back (Geben means “to give” in German) and they not only do really great work for corporations, but have special packages for non-profits. Sometimes I watch her and think, “How do they do that?!”

She is smart, she is savvy, she is kind, and she’s going to take over the world when I retire.

What is the Biggest Mistake You’ve Made in Your Career?

Biggest mistake: Not trusting myself.

I have really strong instincts. While I typically follow my instincts, sometimes I stray…and those are the times when I end up in trouble.

For example, I hired someone even though my instincts told me she was a flight risk.

Lo and behold, just a few months later, she took a new, out-of-state job.

Similarly, I’m selective when deciding which clients/projects we take on, because we’re focused on working with people who are looking for PR partners, have realistic expectations and adhere to our “no jerks” rule.

When I ignore my instincts and take on a questionable project or client, it ends up being more trouble than it’s worth. Thankfully, I’ve learned a few hard, quick lessons and now I’m much better about staying true to my instincts!

What is One Thing about Yourself that Would Surprise Most People?

I leave the office most days at 4:00 p.m.

I have an 18-month-old baby and he wakes up from his afternoon nap around then. It’s really important to me that I get to spend a few hours with him before he goes to bed.

That said, I’m running a nine-person (and growing!) PR firm, so schedule conflicts sometimes arise.

There are days when I have to stay later for a meeting, client call, or networking event, but most days, I’m home a little after 4:00 playing and reading with him. Then, after he goes to bed, I may hop back online to finish up some emails, work on a writing project, respond to some tweets, or catch up on reading.

When I started my company, I loved the freedom and flexibility to set my schedule and choose my clients. Now that I have a kiddo at home, that flexibility is invaluable.

If You Could Achieve Everything You Ever Wanted in Life, but Had to Die 10 Years Sooner, Would You Make that Trade?

It depends! (Wishy washy answer, I know!) If it meant dying at 40, then the answer would be no. But, if it was the difference between dying at 90 or 100, then sure!

What Industry Advice or Practice Would You Most Like to Cry Foul On?

I hate when people think they need to hire a “name brand” PR firm because of their rolodex of media contacts.

Companies all too often think only the big, well-known agencies have contacts at the major media outlets. It’s just not true. And, it doesn’t matter. A solid pitch trumps a lukewarm relationship every time.

Certainly, when hiring a PR firm, you want someone who brings some relationships to the table, but it’s more impressive when the agency can demonstrate expertise finding the right reporter and building a drafting a compelling pitch that lands meaningful media coverage—relationship or not.

Plus, companies should remember that media relations is just one facet of a PR strategy.

(And, now I’ll get off my soapbox … I could go on about this all day.)

What is the Best Book You’ve Read in the Past Six Months?

I don’t read a lot of business/work-related books, but if you’re looking for some books to get you thinking and spark creativity, try these!

  • My Notorious Life: This is a historical fiction about a midwife who overcame a terrible childhood to become one of the most controversial women in the 19th century.
  • My Year with Eleanor: A true story, a celeb blogger commits to doing one fearless act every day, starting on her 30th birthday. If you need some motivation to get over your fears, this is!
  • A Short Guide to a Happy Life: I read this a few times a year. Anna Quindlen offers a mix of wisdom and anecdotes to inspire you to live your best life and find true happiness. It’s a quick, short book. Well worth keeping nearby for those days you need a little perspective or pick-me-up.

Why Does Spin Suck?

When I think of “spin,” I think of lies. And lying is never good. I get that companies can’t really be 100% transparent, and that’s fine. But, resorting to lying isn’t a smart business strategy either.

Where You Can Find Heather Whaling

Like any good communicator, Heather can be found pretty much everywhere on the Internet.

Find her on Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Instagram, Slideshare, and her blog.

She’s even written for Spin Sucks!

She and her team are also relaunching their enewsletter—a fresh ap[PR]oach—with a renewed focus on case studies and actionable takeaways that readers can implement to improve their traditional and digital PR. Subscribe and get to know Heather and the Geben team!

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.

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