Gini Dietrich, Founder and CEO at Spin Sucks, Keynote Speaker [Podcast]

Today I get to bring you one of my most favorite people, Gini Dietrich. Gini is the founder and CEO of, a keynote speaker, author of Spin Sucks, the book, and purveyor of all things PESO!!!


In this video, Gini discusses…

  1. What Is PR Today?
  2. Adopt the PESO Model or Suffer the Consequences
  3. The Interdependency of Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media
  4. Influencer Marketing, Building Authority, and the PESO Model
  5. The PESO Model and Earned Media Done Right
  6. Is HARO Worth It?
  7. Getting Executive Buy-In for PESO
  8. Why You Shouldn’t Get Rid of Marketing in Tough TimesWhat PR Actually Is And Why PR Is Important Today

Plus, we get a little spelling lesson. We know you’re going to love Gini as much as we do (clearly I like her, she got 3 extra questions!). Enjoy!

Digital Transcription: Edited for Readability


Jon-Mikel Bailey: Dramatic pause. All right. Welcome to the Wellspring Digital Chat, where we interview marketing experts and bring their brains directly to you. Today is a real treat for me because I get to talk to one of my most favorite people. I will try to keep this serious, but I don’t know how well that’s gonna go. But ladies and gentlemen, I introduce to you, Gini Dietrich, Gini, please introduce yourself to these good people.

Gini Dietrich: You just said you’re gonna introduce me. I want to hear what you have to say.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: She’s an amazing person, mother, wife, marketer, PR Pro, consultant, speaker, writer,

Gini Dietrich: Cyclist. Although I’m not racing right now, because of, right, well pandemic.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: We are, if you’re watching this 10 years from now or post-apocalypse and you find this in some sort of time capsule type bin or something, this is during the time when everything went wrong. So just some context for everybody. Anything else I missed that you want to tell the good people about yourself?

Gini Dietrich: No, that’s great.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: She is the owner, principal operator of Arment Dietrich, and more importantly, I think

Gini Dietrich: Everybody thinks, I think, as well.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah, is a phenomenal resource. I will include a link in the description below and down there (down there is right here by the way). Go there and read lots of good things.

What Is PR Today?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So you know, I’m a huge fan of yours. And I am a huge fan of Spin Sucks, and I have been for years. I am very excited to share you with our audience. More specifically, I’m really excited to finally get a chance with you to go into a very deep dive into PESO.

Before we go straight in, I want to ask just a general question. There’s a quote from Monique Bonner, the VP of Marketing at Dell, from a post you did back in February. Her quote is, “it drives me crazy when PR people say they aren’t in marketing.” So, question is, what is PR today? Or what do you think it should and could be? I know we could talk for hours.

Gini Dietrich: I think the biggest challenge with the PR industry and communicators, in general, is that most of the work that we do is not tangible. And so it’s very hard to measure. Executives, the CFO, the CEO, the CEO, even the CMO wants you to measure the work that you’re doing. And today, especially in today’s world now where, you know, since the Great Recession, as you well know, we’ve had to do more with less.

And now we’re in this global pandemic, which we don’t know what the new normal is yet. But the idea that you can’t provide a return on investment is going to crush the industry. And so I think that’s the biggest challenge is, you know, PR people will say, Well, I’m not in sales, or I’m not in marketing, and it’s not my job to do that. My job is to build awareness. And yes, your job is to build awareness, but also to drive sales. Improve a return on investment.

Adopt the PESO Model or Suffer the Consequences

2020 PESO Model Graphic
Courtesy of

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Okay. Let’s dive into PESO. So, can you give just a general overview of the PESO model and why you think it’s so important for businesses to adopt this model for marketers?

Gini Dietrich: Yes I can. The PESO model is paid, earned, shared, and owned media. And it’s funny because people will say to me “well if you’re a PR professional, why are you starting with paid?” I’m not, I don’t ever recommend that you start with paid ever. I don’t think that there’s any, and I’ve actually challenged myself to think of an opportunity, where you would start with paid and I can’t think of one because the reason the acronym starts with that is because it’s easier to understand, to remember.

So I don’t ever recommend that you start with paid but that is why the acronym is that. So with that said, you know, I think content is probably one of the most important things you should do for any communications or marketing program, wherever this is, wherever this lies. And because without that you don’t have anything for shared. You don’t have anything to promote and distribute, you don’t have anything to prove to a journalist or a blogger or an influencer, that you know what you’re talking about, or that you have thought leadership on a topic or that you’re credible.

Certainly don’t have anything for paid. You don’t have anything to boost. You don’t have anything to create ads around. You don’t have anything for search engine marketing. I suppose you could do some pay per click and things like that without content, but you still have to have a website and a website needs content. So that’s where I start.

The Interdependency of Paid, Earned, Shared and Owned Media

Jon-Mikel Bailey: PESO is, I think, a great organization of the types of media that people sort of take for granted or sort of overlook. And I love the way that you’ve put it together in such a way where they can finally see how all of this stuff is interrelated and why, you know, one thing will depend on the other. Right? I wonder if you could talk a little bit more about sort of the interdependency of each the P, the E, the S, and the O.

Gini Dietrich: Sure. So let me back up for a second. The challenge I think, with the PESO model is a lot of people look at the graphic that we’ve designed to go along with it and go “oh, I can do that.” And then they come back and they’re like, “it doesn’t work.” And I’ll say, Okay, well, what did you do? “Well, we did some content and we shared it on social. That’s not the face of modeling, right?”

So they blame the model or the process when that’s not the case. So the way I like to explain it is, the four media types are like the foundation of your home. So you have paid in one corner, earned in one, shared in another, and owned in the last. But without those four, you don’t have anything to build on. So if you’re only doing earned, which most communicators do, or you’re only doing shared and own, it’s not going to work. I mean, will you have results? Sure, will it do something that will show you the ROI that I was looking for, or the CEO? It’s not going to.

So you have to build the foundation. And once you build the foundation, you see that there’s some overlap. There’s overlap between paid and earned, there’s overlap between earned and owned, and, and so on. And in there you have things like email marketing, influencer relations, distribution and promotion, things like marketing communications.

Once you do all of that, and you have to have some of that overlap, you start to build authority. And authority means you have reputation, both online and off, you have first page Google search results. People are finding you just by clicking on their computer, you know, those kinds of things.

You also start to have competitors that recommend you and you start to build reputation outside of the online world, you do it offline too and in person. And so in there, you have search engine optimization, you have thought leadership, you have brand awareness, and you have authority and that’s where the magic starts to happen is because you’ve integrated all of this and they have started to overlap and you’ve built this really strong foundation, where you can build that authority and measure it

Influencer Marketing, Building Authority, and the PESO Model

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Gotcha, gotcha. Now, you mentioned building authority and it made me start to think about, you know, I just did a couple of interviews one with Neal Schaffer who wrote the age of influence and then one with David Meerman Scott who wrote

Gini Dietrich: Fancy, fancy pants.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: I know, right? Yeah, I got you too. They’re all quality, right? All levels on board. So, you know, I’ve been talking a lot about influencer marketing and building fans and building authority and all that sort of good stuff. And I wondered if you could maybe talk a little bit more about how the PESO model really lends itself to that type of attention building, that type of influencer marketing that you can do, because in my mind, and correct me if I’m wrong, it’s almost impossible to really do a quality influencer marketing campaign or a quality blogger outreach campaign without really embracing the full model that you’ve outlined. Am I wrong?

Gini Dietrich: I totally agree with you. I don’t think you’re wrong. You want to like timestamp that? You certainly can. I think the challenge with blogger outreach and influencer marketing and all that kind of stuff is that companies typically say, “oh, well, that influencer has 100,000 Facebook fans, so they must be influential” and that’s not always the case.

So when you’re looking at it from the perspective of how is it going to affect the growth of our program, our campaign or how is it going to drive sales then it may not be the influencer with 100,000 Facebook fans. We have a client, who three years ago was like, “I have to be in the New York Times,” and he’s a b2b manufacturer. It doesn’t make sense for them to be in the New York Times. Would it make him feel good? Sure. Is it a good ego stroke? Absolutely.

Because then he’s on the golf course and his buddies are like, “ah, saw your write-up in the New York Times. That’s what it does, right? So I was like, “fine, I’m not gonna fight this battle. If you want to be the New York Times, we’ll work we’ll do what we can.” So we got him in the New York Times, and it was a nice write-up. And it was a very flattering piece. And he was on the golf course and his buddies see the write-up in the New York Times as well. So he felt great about it. Right. And you know, he’s very complimentary of us and all that. So we tracked the data. And we noticed, as I would have told him, that the New York Times Article only brought four visitors to his website, four, and none of them converted. But when we did something in there very boring technical trade publication, it brought 2000 visitors and 40 of them converted.

Jon-Mikel Bailey 

I want to isolate that tiny little segment and show it to so many freaking people because the misconceptions around so-called influencer marketing and blogger outreach and building authority and all those sorts of things are just vast and for sure, bordering on ridiculous in some cases. And that snippet example of what you just said is, it’s great. I think we could end it there. But I have another question.

Gini Dietrich: Well, and that’s the thing is that the PESO model teaches you how to use data to make those informed decisions right? If you’re not using the PESO model, and you don’t understand how to track all of that, and that you don’t have attribution, and you’re not using your analytics to define that, he would be super happy because all of his buddies on the golf course say “this was a great article,” right? I mean, he would be happy. But then six months from now, the CFO would be like “where’s the return and we get fired?” Right now I can say the New York Times is great, and I’m glad you’re happy with it. But we’re going to focus over here and here’s why and I have the data to prove it.

The PESO Model and Earned Media Done Right

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Perfect. So I wanted to see if because I don’t really get an opportunity to talk much about earned media and I think there’s a lot of earned media done not so well. So I wanted to ask you what are some of the more common mistakes you’ve seen with earned media and you know, how would you do things differently? And how might the PESO model help with earned media?

Gini Dietrich: It’s funny because the prospect will call me and say, “Hey, we need to hire a PR.” And I’ll be like, “Okay, what does that mean?” And it’s getting in the New York Times. Yeah, every day, everything went over was here in Chicago. It was “get me on Oprah.” Sure, let me get right on that.

The biggest mistakes I see? You know, it’s one of the challenges that we see most often is that an executive will say, “let’s write a news release about this and get it out.” And usually, the communications team is not brought in until the very end. So there’s no strategy, there’s no direction. They’re just told to write the release and get it out there. And it doesn’t work.

And the other thing that they want is they want to start to see is a list of 1000 people that it was sent to. And that doesn’t work either. Right? So one of the things that I teach, especially in the PESO model certification, is to choose a list of 10 to 30. And let’s focus on those. We’re going to build relationships, we’re going to provide the best information, we’re going to use data to help inform the decisions that we make. We’re going to work really hard.

Some of it might be contributed content, we’re rewriting it and providing it. Some of them might be interviews or feature stories. Whatever it happens to be, but we’re going to work really hard on those 10 to 30. And not thousands, because eventually, you’re going to get your executive to say, “Oh my gosh, yeah, I’d much rather you send 30 pitches and have 100% or 95% response rate, then send 1000 and only get one.”

Or what’s happening right now is, you know, even though we’re in this weird space where people are afraid to market and you know, sell anything because we’re in this weird, we don’t really know what’s going to happen. But PR, I mean, people are still having to pitch stories and you know, do their work. And journalists are just coming down on PR people. I mean, they are using full names and everything. I cannot believe that this person sent me this pitch. And so now we’re faced with that too, on top of it, and it’s a real challenge.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: You know, it’s funny, I’m starting to think that a side effect of COVID-19 is a filter for all BS and marketing. It’s like it’s systematically weeding out the crap because everybody’s getting called on their stuff now. Yeah, yeah. Fantastic. Yeah.

Gini Dietrich: It’s amazing. Actually, it’s Yeah.

Is HARO Worth It?

Jon-Mikel Bailey: So I’m gonna throw you a curveball here. What are your thoughts on HARO? There are some opportunities in there. And for those people who don’t know what it is, it’s Help a Reporter Out. And it’s basically journalists and reporters who are looking for sources for stories. I’m oversimplifying, but that’s generally the gist. But do you think it gets misused or abused or?

Gini Dietrich: I think it works. When it works, it works really well. But yeah, I mean, marketers ruin everything.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Well, I mean, I’m just thinking because it’s so tedious like, right, you know, you get two a day there’s a bunch of stuff in there. Yeah. And, you know, I always wonder, is it worthwhile to sit there and go through every single email?

Gini Dietrich: It’s worthwhile for that, but I think if you’re really targeted, I mean, I will give you a good example: we use it both for clients but we use it for Spin Sucks when We’re looking for sources for some success story.

But, the amount of crap. And the people that don’t follow directions like you just automatically get tossed out. If you email us directly, you automatically get tossed out because that’s not the direction. So it’s the amount of entitlement and I know better than you is fascinating. And I’m just a little blogger like if I were a reporter at a BIG TIME magazine or newspaper, I’d be like, PR people suck.

Getting Executive Buy-In for PESO

Jon-Mikel Bailey: All right. Last question. So in one of your masterclasses, I watched it the other day, and it was fun. I enjoyed it. But you mentioned something that I loved you say you said and I had to keep rewinding it because I kept missing it. So you said PR is an investment and not an expense, which I thought “that’s awesome.” And, and then I started to think, “well, then you start talking about well, you know, most cases, CEOs are probably not going to think of it that way.” They’re gonna say, “oh, PR, that’s going to cost us money.”

In a recent post, you talk about how to get buy-in from C suite or whoever you need to get buy-in from for the PESO model and I wonder if you could summarize that post a little bit, maybe give us cliff notes or highlights? Well, I’ll include a link in the down here.

Gini Dietrich: It goes back to what we started this whole conversation with, which is, even though we are an investment and we do drive sales, the industry as a whole has no idea how to prove that. None. And that really was the catalyst for the PESO model in general was, I knew there had to be a way that we could measure the work that we do directly.

The challenge is that the industry in general still looks at dumb metrics. And they’re not even real metrics. But they’ll still they still look at media impressions, which is baloney. They still look at advertising equivalencies, although we’re starting to get away from that a bit, which is good. They still look at website visitors and the number of Facebook fans and followers and viewers and all that and that’s fine. But that thousand likes, that’s up here. It’s the very, very, very, very top and you have to dig down.

So once you do that, and that’s what the PESO model teaches you to do is how you take all of that and what that means and drill it down. So that you are using analytics, you are using your marketing automation, and you are using your CRM. And the information from those three things combined will show you exactly how the work that you’re doing is affecting the end goal.

And then you can prove that you’re an investment. And once you do that, you’ll never lose your job, ever. We’re always the first one to go. Always in a recession, in a pandemic, whatever it happens to be always the first one to go. It’s a large expense, it’s usually $5,000 a month or more huge expense, it’s easy to cut off the P&L and be done with it. When a communications team has done their job really well, they are missed very badly, very quickly. Right, but because they haven’t proven that they’re that investment. The executive has to go through that pain of “Oh, holy crap, what did we just do?”

Why You Shouldn’t Get Rid of Marketing in Tough Times

Jon-Mikel Bailey: I wonder before we go, I wondered if maybe you could talk a little bit more about that. About the idea that in times like right now, you know marketing, PR, those sorts of things just get cut. No thought, no reasoning, just “oh well let’s just get rid of that we can do without that.” I wonder if you could maybe pontificate on the, I’ll say it, the stupidity of that. You know, your thoughts, impressions, because I think it’s dangerous. I think it’s gonna kill you, especially if you make it through the other side of this. Yes. You’re gonna be like, “crap.”

Gini Dietrich: Yes. So, one second. I have to spell betta, BETTA. As in fish.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: I was gonna say “I hope that’s for the fish.”

Gini Dietrich: E TT.


Jon-Mikel Bailey: And who are you spelling this for, your husband?

Gini Dietrich: Yes. Doing a zoom chat right now.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: That’s awesome.

Gini Dietrich: Um, yes. So during the Great Recession, you know, I lost quite a bit of business, and I was very new in business, so I had no idea what I was up against. It was bad. GE was a client. And it was really interesting because they didn’t cut us entirely. They roll this back. I think we were at 15 grand a month and they move just to five grand a month. But they didn’t cut it entirely because they’re a very sophisticated business that understands. If you start marketing and communicating during something like this, when you come out on the back end, it’s going to take three times as long to get back up to where you were before all of this right so they were really smart about it.

Kellogg’s is really smart about it. And Kellogg’s is notorious. There’s a great case study that shows that they launched a cereal brand during the Depression. Yeah, it was Raisin Bran and how their sales just feed through that and Post who was their biggest competitor. When they stopped communicating they stopped marketing.

So there are tons of case studies that show that it is stupid, it’s not smart, and at the same time as busy as business owners are, I think we can understand that you do have to cut things. Don’t have to cut it entirely, look for opportunities to scale it back or you know, do the bare minimum but not cut it entirely.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yeah, I think any marketer will certainly not expect every you know, business owner out there to just keep rolling through with what was happening before. I mean, you’re gonna have to pivot and make changes but I think to cut it out completely is bad.

Gini Dietrich: Have you seen the Van Gogh painting with the mask and it’s it keeps coming off. I can’t see it and every time I see it it makes me laugh.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: That is definitely a fave. All right, well, I could talk to you all day long, but I know you have things to do and unfortunately, I do as well. But thank you so much for coming on. I appreciate it and it is always great to see you.

Gini Dietrich: It’s good to see you too, buddy.

Jon-Mikel Bailey: Yay, yay. Stay safe and all of that. Bye

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