On this month’s profile, we are talking with none other than Gini Dietrich, Founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks. She’s also the 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.
Within this interview, we discuss her thoughts on what PR and marketing trends to expect in 2022. From the KPIs to keep on your radar to proving the value of PR, Gini is sharing her predictions for what to anticipate out of PR, marketing, and more in 2022.
Read below for the entire interview with Gini:
1.) From being the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks to creating the PESO model, you have quite the background within the industry. How did you initially get your start?
When I was the ripe old age of 20, a girlfriend of mine told me she had interviewed with an agency about a coordinator job. She said it wasn’t the job for her, but she thought it might be a good fit for me. I didn’t even know what an agency was. I was studying for the LSAT so I could go to law school and do contract negotiations for athletes. My mom got sick and I had to put that on hold so the idea was that I’d find a job in the interim. And here I am…20 years later.
2.) What gave you the initial inspiration for creating the PESO Model? How did it come to be?
I wish I could say it was a big strategic decision we made and that we knew it would revolutionize the PR industry. Instead, I was writing about the process in Spin Sucks, the book, and my editor told me we need a name for the process. And then she told me we need an image to support it. And so it was born. In fact, just in 2020, we got it copyrighted and trademarked. It’s been a long and interesting process.
3.) Do you think that one part of the PESO model will play a more vital role for brands than the others in 2022? Or do you predict they will be equally important?
They’re not equally important, in most cases. And, unless your only job is to sell as many widgets as possible as quickly as you can, you’d almost never start with paid. We typically begin with owned because, without content, you have nothing to share on social, nothing to boost in paid, and nothing for journalists to validate through earned.
4.) Marketers and PR Pros are becoming more closely intertwined than ever before. How are these two roles going to lean on each other in 2022? Will they continue to get closer?
As much as I would love for my communications brethren to stay separate and for executives to understand the value of what we do and for us to be able to directly link our efforts to revenue, it’s just not the real world.
The two disciplines will continue to get close and there won’t be much of a distinction between the two internally. We’re working with a client right now that has it all housed under a VP of marketing—without any clear delineation, except in the roles of the team, between the two.
5.) Within the marketing realm, we’ve seen a huge shift to more organic marketing efforts during COVID, especially when it comes to video and podcasting. Do you think this will shift in 2022? What are your thoughts?
Too many organizations have seen a big lift from these efforts so it won’t change. The B2B content report from Content Marketing Institute shows that, because of COVID, companies have figured out both the value and how to measure it. Of course, we know all of this, but executives are finally on board. If anything, there will be lots of doubling down on these efforts.
6.) With the podcast industry becoming more saturated than ever, do you think podcasting is still a viable medium for brands who have yet to enter into that realm?
I do. The Spin Sucks podcast is the bane of my existence. It’s not my favorite medium and it takes me twice as long to do that than to write a piece of content. But it’s hands down, one of the best ways for us to generate leads. People tell us all the time they found us through the podcast. It used to be we’d hear that about the blog. My beloved blog has been replaced.
7.) What are the top three Marketing trends that you think we’ll see in 2022? Why?
A couple have been mentioned here: More video and more podcasting. Virtual events are not going away anytime soon (but I have to say, I sure am tired of looking at myself on Zoom…I’m so bored with my hair). And we’re getting smarter about how we use content in both brand awareness and in lead generation.
8.) How can PRos better work with marketers in 2022 to amplify results?
Organizational leaders are under immense pressure to take a stand on various social issues on behalf of the broader enterprise. However a consumer or other stakeholder sees it, that is all driven by communications, and so is defining a platform that not only articulates what the business stands for but, more importantly, drives trust and engagement.
The corporate brand must be brought to life through consistent storytelling that showcases human faces and voices—and what values the organization stands for.
If a communicator wants to work better with marketers, there is a pretty big opportunity around this in 2022.
9.) What are the top three PR trends that you think we’ll see in 2022? Why?
These probably won’t come as any surprise to anyone because we’ve been talking ad nauseam about them, but they are:
- How communicators can bridge the gap between what organizational leaders want and what employees want.
- How to lead with purpose and values—and communicate those things appropriately.
- Being able to translate the work that we do to an organization’s goals.
That last one isn’t a new trend, but we haven’t yet figured it out, as an industry. We have to get that done…or, as the lines between marketing and PR continue to blur, we’ll be shoved in a corner with Baby.
10.) What will be the top challenges for PRos in 2022 and why? How can PRos overcome them?
This is the first time in history that we’ve, as an industry, had a seat at the table. Because of that, though, I’ve seen immense pressure from executives to measure our efforts to revenue—whichever form that comes in inside your organization. From media tours and traditional earned media to social media and content marketing, executives don’t want to hear that you can’t measure brand awareness; they want to know how it affects sales.
If we are to keep our seat at the table, we have to be able to demonstrate that, which isn’t easy because much of what we do isn’t measurable. We also don’t tend to be left-brained individuals so that makes it even more challenging. We actually teach communicators how to do this in the PESO Model© Certification. It’s still not easy, though.
11.) With PR and Marketing merging, how can PRos prove the value of PR in 2022?
This is a crappy answer, but it depends. In some cases, PR is highly valued, but it depends on who is running the ship and whether or not they see the value in it. We do a ton of work with fast-growing startups and we find that most of those leaders don’t understand PR and have hired us only because a mentor or coach has told them they need it. That’s an uphill battle because, as I mentioned above, you can’t measure a lot of what we do—and most entrepreneurs care only about the work that makes the company money.
If you’re in that situation, to prove the value of the work you do, a PESO Model© integrated program is a must. We have one client who values the E (earned), S (shared), and O (owned) of the model, but doesn’t understand why we need the P (paid) to amplify the work we’ve done. Fight for it. It’s worth it in the end.
12.) What KPIs should PRos keep on their radar in 2022?
Again, crappy answer, but it depends. If you’re implementing a PESO Model© program, there are KPIs for every media type and the type of work that you’re doing.
For instance, for one client, we have a brand awareness KPI (it took us years to get them to value that) and we have a KPI that is specific to the work we’re doing with their content marketing program and then using the PESO Model© to promote, distribute, amplify, and provide credibility.
We look at everything from increased social media followers and engagement and increased direct and organic traffic to marketing qualified leads nurtured to sales qualified leads and conversions.
In most cases, we don’t do the converting, but we can absolutely look at attribution models and determine where that new customer came from. Again, it takes someone on your team who has an analytical mind (I’m constantly asking our data scientists to give me statistically significant data on our work) and someone who understands how to accurately set up an attribution model, but that’s the key. If you can say, “Fifty percent of our customers came to us through our marketing and our comms programs,” you will win.
13.) With the rise of influencers and the evolution of social media, will earned media be dominant among the other media types in 2022?
Earned media hasn’t been dominant in years—probably not since before the 2016 election. Owned media is the dominant media type, and will continue its reign. You do need earned media to provide credibility to the work that you do, but it’s not where you start or end.
I always say, in a PESO Model© program, you start with owned media in today’s world. You then use shared media to promote and distribute, earned media to gain the credibility you need to be able to grow, and paid media to amplify it.
There are certainly instances where it would not happen that way, but that’s generally how it happens.
14.) What’s the best piece of PR advice you’ve received that you want to share with others?
I’ve gotten so much great advice throughout my career that isn’t necessarily PR advice. I’m incredibly shy (I know, I know) and I’m naturally an introvert. Because of that, I have a really bad habit of picking at my cuticles when I’m stressed. It mostly happens in meetings and during social events. I had a mentor when I was very young (early 20s) who said to me, “Gini, you are are so smart and you have a ton to provide to the world of communications. I’m excited to see what you do with your career. But you have to stop picking at your fingernails during meetings. It undermines your credibility.”
I still do it, of course, but not when and where anyone can see. (My poor thumbs really should have permanent bandaids on them.)
When I started speaking on stage, my nervous habit was to play with my hair. A girlfriend of mine pulled me aside and told me that it was undermining my credibility. That habit was easier to get rid of. I no longer play with my hair on stage!
When I started my business, a business coach told me I had to decide if I wanted to be a killer communicator or a killer company grower. At the time, I chose killer company grower, but having built it to 50 employees and going through The Great Recession and then COVID, I decided I didn’t want to spend my days with HR issues and financial planning. I’d much rather do the work…so I hired someone to run the business for me.
All of this advice is part of growing and maturing. It also shows that the decisions you make today may not be what you want in the future—and that is totally OK! The point is to choose a direction and see how you do. You can always, always, always change course.
BONUS: We’re not trying to put you on the spot, but what’s your favorite: PR or Marketing?
THAT IS NOT NICE AT ALL! Are you going to ask me who my favorite child is, too? (Thankfully I only have one and I tell her all the time she’s my favorite human on earth.)
The real answer is…it depends. If you’re defining PR as media relations (which is how most define it), then I will say marketing. But if you’re defining it as an integrated PESO Model®, it’s 100% PR. We are the relationship builders, the storytellers, the value drivers, the peacemakers. It doesn’t matter if you call it PR or marketing, that’s what we do and no one else does it as well as we do.
If you’re looking for more tips on certain PR topics, like leveraging podcasts, head back to the blog to view other guests we’ve profiled. Past guests include Michelle Garrett, Beki Winchel, Shama Hyder, and more!
Like this series and have a guest you think would be a good fit? Shoot us a Twitter DM or email us at email@example.com and let us know who you’d want to see featured next! PS: you can recommend yourself too.
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