Monica Rodgers and Gini Dietrich

By Gini Dietrich

I’m going to be fully transparent here: I am not above bribery.

Monica Rodgers sent a gorgeous bag of chocolate and made me indebted to her for life.

I don’t know if I can do her as much justice as she can herself, when you read her story about how she became interested in the PR industry.

Therefore, I have pasted below an excerpt from her story so you can see what I mean.

Under the white tent during a hot Georgia summer day was a chaotic scene as reporters dashed about and soldiers assigned media badges and answered questions.

Troops were returning from Operation Desert Storm, and at age seven, Monica Rodgers watched in awe as her father, a military public affairs noncommissioned officer, directed soldiers while providing media interviews. The action moved fast but coordinated.

Years later when she was preparing for college, Monica would remember this moment in deciding what she wanted to do with her life.

She went on to work in public affairs for the U.S. Army and later the U.S. Air Force. She also has worked for the Department of Defense public affairs offices in Kentucky, Michigan, Virginia and the Pentagon.

She also is accredited in public relations.

So yeah. She’s kind of a big deal in our industry and, between that and the the chocolate, that is why I asked her to sit on the Spin Sucks Inquisition hot seat.

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

When I first started, I wholly prescribed to the motto “failure is not an option.”

That created a fear of failure, which stopped me from seizing too many great opportunities, and then holding on too long looking at closed doors.

With time and experience and lots of mistakes, I’ve learned failure is not the worst that can happen. I still struggle with this, but I’ve gotten better.

There is a line from one of my all-time favorite movies that helps. In Elizabethtown, Kirsten Dunst’s character says “You wanna be really great? Then have the courage to fail big and stick around. Make them wonder why you’re still smiling”

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

I suffer terribly with Imposter Syndrome, but for the exact reasons I fear being “found out,” I force myself to speak up in meetings, add insight in presentations, and make the rounds at networking events.

I consider myself an introvert disguising as an extrovert, and I’m usually drained after these encounters, needing days alone to recuperate.

I consistently have to remind myself that I do have valuable input to offer, I have unique experiences and developed skills that do matter, and if I do get “called out,” it’s not the end of world.

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

So, is the alternative that I don’t achieve everything I want but I get to live 10 more years?

If that’s the case, then I would absolutely make the trade. The problem is I don’t know if I could ever finish a list of everything I want to achieve in life.

I’m constantly learning new things, reading about new adventures, and adding all of these to my list.

So, it would be a bit like using my first wish from a genie in the bottle to grant all my other wishes (which, as a Disney fan, I know Robin Williams explicitly said was against the rules for genies).

If I ever did complete that list, though, I would gladly give up 10 years so I can reach all my goals. What’s the point of remaining here if I had nothing left to strive for?

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

“Just do a blog.”

Blogging is hard. Strike that. Good blogging is hard.

Blogs are meant to establish thought leadership in an area, not just another place to post your news releases.

Spending hours crafting the right tone and style to distinguish your authority on a topic just to release it to the sounds of crickets can be soul-crushing. Or when the trolls and spammers attack your work, it can hurt.

To come back day after day or week after week to face that, it takes a lot of courage and perseverance.

Blogging also isn’t the golden ticket—it has to be part of your overall strategic communications plan.

As part of your strategy combined with determination and skill is where blogging finds its place.

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

For our profession, Global Content Marketing by Pam Didner.

Since I recently completed my master’s studies with a focus on multicultural communications, I really enjoyed how she gives clear step-by-step instructions on how multinational corporations can localize their offerings to resonate with cultures around the world.

Working in an MNC now, I also liked how she used real-world examples to explain how headquarters can better support their regional offices.

From a more personal view, Daughters of the Dragon: A Comfort Woman’s Story by William Andrews.

I’m drawn to human rights causes, and Andrews does a gripping job of sharing the little-known story of Korean sex slaves forced into service by the Japanese military during World War II. Through the historical fiction story of one woman’s journey through the horrendous encampment and her struggle to survive, he raises awareness for a group that has recently been victimized again with the softening of a national apology.

Why Does Spin Suck?

Why doesn’t it suck? Spin, of course, erodes trust, but it goes even deeper than that. Any good work that is done in the name of communications can unjustly be undermined due to affiliation with those who chose to practice these unsavory tactics.

All of us committed to eradicating these despicable acts need to police our own industry and call out those who violate the ethical principles put forth by PRSA, IABC and other legit organizations that strive to give our field and the professionals within it a good name.

Where You Can Find Monica Rodgers

You can find Monica on LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Quora, and on her blogs, Aubia Communications and Working 2 Live (where she talks about all of the travel she and her husband do…I think they’re up to 30 countries!).

You can even find her blogging here every so often.

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