Spin Sucks 3D Cover 1024x788 300x230 Spin Sucks: Digital Communications, PR, and Marketing in a Nutshell (Review)This past week I started reading Spin Sucks, the new book from my friend Gini Dietrich. Within two days of first picking it up, I found myself referencing the book twice while speaking to clients. This is a testament to not only the great value of the material in the book, but also of the wide range of topics covered by Gini.

In the first instance, some representatives of a business were asking me about the value they were getting from their PR firm. As they described the situation, it sounded to me as though they weren’t getting much beyond a few media mentions that wasn’t bringing them any real value in terms of ROI. What they described sounded much like a very old-school, traditional approach to public relations. Boom. I told them about Gini’s book, and in particular, referenced Chapter 3 where she defines what PR really is today, and describes the four main areas of the PR landscape: earned media, paid media, owned media, and shared media.

Of course I also told them to get the book and read it.

Then as I was meeting with another client to help launch a website for his startup, we ran into a bit of a problem. The business is a service-industry franchise, with much of the language for the website dictated by the franchisor. Much of the language was proprietary, and the parent company didn’t want the franchisees to come up with their own language What this means is that there are a lot of websites out there for local and regional franchisees, that have much the same language. In fact, they probably have many pages that are word-for-word the exact same content. Anyone who follows Google and the world of SEO knows that a major issues these days is that of duplicate content. In chapter 2, Gini spends a good bit of time talking about the problem of duplicate content, while digging deeper into what it is, how you can get penalized by the search engines, and how to avoid it. We haven’t come to any particular solutions for this client, but I’m concerned with how a brand new web site from a brand new business, might be affected by having the same content as other older sites around the country. Not a great problem to face when launching a start-up.

In Spin Sucks, Gini does a great job of covering a wide variety of topics that fall into the area of digital communications, marketing, and PR. In fact, while these disciplines might traditionally been controlled by different individuals or departments within a business at one point, the lines have blurred dramatically. Marketing, PR, and communications have become inextricably linked in the online space, and I think this is a good thing, and ties back into the theme of Gini’s first book, Marketing in the Round, co-written with Geoff Livingston.

Throughout the book, Gini covers many of the themes and topics she tackles over on her blog of the same name, and thankfully, with the same easy to read style. Too often I read books that I think would benefit my small business clients, except for a few things: they are too laced with undefined industry jargon, presume a certain amount of knowledge and experience, and offer solutions more appropriate to larger businesses with full marketing departments and robust marketing budgets. That’s not the case here. While Gini’s advice certainly applies to larger businesses, it is also incredibly useful for smaller businesses with no marketing staff or budget. No matter the size of your business (or nonprofit), you’ll have no problem walking away with any number of applicable and operational ideas. And it’s written in a style that is very approachable and easy to digest.

Spin Sucks also features a very manageable mix of the theoretical and practical. Of particular value to small businesses will be the lessons in the final two sections of the book. Section III (“Your Brand, Your Customers) examines the important, yet fragile and ever changing, relationship between your brand and your customers, and how we need to do business in a business climate controlled by the customer. In the final section, Gini does a great job of breaking down SEO and crisis communications, while taking a quick look at where we’re headed in the days and weeks to come.

As business owners, managers, and marketers, we will be faced with new issues as we put our businesses online and engage more with our customers. This will present a wide variety of new challenges and problems, each of which we need to address in newer and more open ways. The old way of doing things won’t work. What it comes down to is conducting business in an honest and ethical way, while doing your best to communicate in an authentic and transparent way. Gini understands that her profession has gotten a bad reputation, often deservedly so, and she is leading the charge to make sure that changes. It isn’t about putting the best spin on things, hiding our warts, or using the latest tips and tricks to game the system.

It’s about being real. But this new landscape can be rather daunting, but as Gini says,

“Don’t be scared of communicating ever again…You have an incredible opportunity to build trust through communications, using technology to deliver it to prospective customers who would never before have the chance to buy from you.”

That’s something to be excited about, not afraid of.

So get online, be wonderful, tell your story, and have fun. But above all, remember that spin sucks.

Hop on over to Amazon to purchase Spin Sucks in either book or digital form, and visit Gini’s blog for this kind of information on a daily basis.