An interview with Gini Dietrich

by Craig McBreen · 91 comments · General


I am now a member of a very large and growing group, the Gini Dietrich fan club.

Gini is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PR firm, Arment Dietrich, Inc. She also runs a blog called Spin Sucks, the 2010 Readers Choice PR Blog of the Year, one of Social Media Examiner’s Top 10 Social Media Blogs for 2011 and is currently listed on the Ad Age Power 150, a ranking of the top media and marketing blogs.

I don’t think you can say enough about her acumen in the social media world. Combine that with great writing, all-around creativity, being endowed with some sort of super-productivity gene, and what do you get? One of the smartest and most influential bloggers out there. Gini is also extremely generous and has helped this rookie more than she knows. Also an avid cyclist, I personally wonder how she gets it all done.

I recently asked her a broad range of questions, from net neutrality to Charlie Sheen (that’s right). I also asked her to whip out her crystal ball. Gini knows her stuff, and I am grateful for the opportunity to share this interview with you. Take out your old notepad and enjoy.

Q: We are hearing a lot about weirdos lately, with the arrival of Seth Godin’s new book, “We Are All Weird.” In the book, he writes about weirdness and the fragmentation of culture. How can uniqueness benefit a lone blogger looking to make it?

Gini: I think it’s less about being unique and more about being yourself. We’re all unique so, if you’re yourself, you’ll find your little niche. I remember joining a CEO group about four years ago that was made up of high net worth individuals who had built their companies from scratch and now are sitting atop conglomerates. I was really intimidated. And then I realized they put their pants on one leg at a time. They get sick. They get tired. They get grouchy. They get exasperated. And they’re still successful. We’re all human so be yourself. I’m going to paraphrase Steve Jobs, but he said something to the effect of you can either live your life or the one someone else wants you to live. Which would you rather do?

Q: So how do you go about finding an audience you can truly bond with? How does someone position their blog so their content resonates, and is remarkable to the right people? Is a 1-2-3 approach possible? Can you tell I’m struggling to find a narrow theme?

Gini: It really comes down to vision. What do you want to accomplish? You wrote a blog post a couple of weeks ago about why you started blogging (to work on your speech writing) and it has turned into something entirely different. I set out to change the perception of the PR industry and, while that’s still the vision, I also throw in some entrepreneurship and leadership lessons, as well as some goofiness. It’s not all PR all the time. Sometimes you just have to test and see what resonates.

Q: Is finding a niche really that important to success in blogging, and to a monetization strategy? It worked brilliantly for Leo Babauta when he started years ago, but things are different now, right?

Gini: Things are different now, true, but just like anything else, a niche is important. Just like you wouldn’t start a business without a niche, you shouldn’t try to blog without some sort of purpose. Why are you blogging? What do you want to accomplish? If you’re clear about that, your readers will be clear about it, as well.

Q: So this leads me to the Long Tail, the shift away from mainstream products and markets to those niches in the tail. We see less focus on lowest-common-denominator products and more focus on specific wants and needs. Which companies are having a hard time adjusting to this model? How would an effective PR and social media strategy help them survive and convert customers?

Gini: Ha! Most companies are having a hard time adjusting to this model! It’s scary to say, “we only do this” instead of trying to be all things to all people. It goes back to knowing your vision and finding your niche. Once you do that, an integrated marketing communication plan will help you convert customers. But not until you’re clear about what you do. If you aren’t clear, your customers won’t know what they’re buying.

Q: I would love to know how you stay motivated. We all hit rough patches and life does get in the way, often. It’s difficult to keep up a good attitude day after day, especially with a work routine like yours. Are there specific daily habits that help you stay on task?

Gini: Focus, focus, focus. Because I’m naturally an introvert, my routine is VERY important. I don’t do well when it’s screwed up (to the tune of tears produced). I’m very motivated by a task list and checking things off of it. So, if I have a list of things when I start my day, I’ll stay motivated. When I get into trouble is when I’ve been too busy to write the list for the next day. I also run the business so I have an advantage not everyone has … I get to define my own schedule. Therefore, Mondays are staff and client meeting days. Tuesday and Wednesday I spend mentoring my team and working with clients. Thursdays are my big writing days because I write weekly for several publications, with Friday deadlines. And Fridays I work on the business, which is all Spin Sucks Pro all the time. As long as I can stick to that schedule, I get a lot accomplished.

Q: As a self-described introvert, how do you deal with the fear of speaking? And how did you get started in public speaking? Do you really like it, really?

Gini: I actually love to speak now. I still get really nervous, which you would think would have diminished by now. But it’s still there. It’s something I do to really push myself. I dread everything about it, leading up to it. I mean, to the point that I will say to myself, “Why are you doing this?” And I say that every time. Then I get up there and, after five minutes, the nerves go away, and I remember why I do it. But, because I am an introvert, it takes everything out of me. I once spoke five days in a row. By the fourth day, I was on my B game, at best. By the fifth day, I was a disaster. So now we don’t book me for more than two days in a row. Ever.

Q: How does someone with zero street cred break into public speaking? What would be the first step for someone looking to speak at a large event, like say, BlogWorld?

Gini: Funny! I had zero street cred when I started. In fact, EVERYONE has zero street cred when they start. With conferences such as BlogWorld, they take proposals. If you can make your proposal shine and you have a nice little blog, you’re probably going to get at least a panel appearance. You’re going to do a lot of freebies to build your credibility. Look for webinars you can present at, trade organizations that have monthly lunches, and local events. That stuff will get you the experience you need so you can begin charging.

Q: Oh yeah, back to the introvert thing. When you retire to your “cave” what is your favorite thing to do? A favorite guilty pleasure?

Gini: Why read, of course! But, because I spend so much time reading and writing every day, it’s rare I read for pleasure anymore. Riding my bike is a guilty pleasure because it’s my time. There are no interruptions. No one needs anything from me. The only thing I have to worry about is staying up with the men on the team.

Q: We talked about motivation, but now onto productivity? You need to write a productivity manifesto, really. I have trouble maintaining a new blog, commenting, and balancing that with my daily business and family life. Do your days ever go according to plan, really? How many hours per day to you dedicate to blogging? To commenting? And how do you get it all done? What daily habits help you stay on top of the pile?

Gini: Oh shoot! Maybe I jumped ahead when I answered the motivation question above. No, of course they don’t go according to plan. Ever. I spend two hours a day on the blog. I spend an hour on the social networks. I spend an hour (or two, if I’m in a groove) writing my book. I spend an hour every night, before I go to bed, reading and commenting on blogs. If I don’t get to your blog, it’s likely because my hour was up and I’ll try the next day. I stopped feeling guilty about not getting to everyone’s blogs every day. Then I spend eight to 10 hours a day on the business, with clients, and with my team. They’re very long days. But I also stopped working weekends, so I’m very productive because I can no longer say, “Oh I’ll do that on Sunday.”

Q: I don’t think a lot of people outside of public relations know about your podcast, Inside PR. Could you elaborate on that?

Gini: The podcast with my Canadian boys! Inside PR is a podcast with Martin Waxman and Joe Thornley, which we produce every Wednesday. We discuss what’s happening in PR, social media, and communications, overall, that week. It’s really turned into Joe and me disagreeing on almost everything and Martin balancing the two of us. We’re really big in Canada and the UK. Hardly anyone knows about us in the U.S. …  I’m impressed you know.

Q: I am not on Facebook. Is Facebook a must for a rookie blogger? Or maybe give me a few reasons why I should be on it. How often are you on Facebook?

Gini: I LOVE Facebook! But I love it, not because it’s great for the blog or for business, but because it’s my own personal stage. I say things there just to see what kind of response I’ll get. It turns out, talking about poop is really popular. Who knew? No, I don’t think it’s a must for a rookie blogger. If you’re going to use anything, I’d use Twitter and Google+. Twitter is our #3 driver of traffic. And Google+ is driving about 18 percent, which is huge because it’s all new traffic. Facebook and Networked Blogs are in the top 10, but that’s from the business page, not my personal page.

Q: I’d love to get your thoughts on net neutrality, or preserving a free and open Internet for all. The large communications companies would love to charge money based on a tiered Internet, and they are not giving up. Will the Internet remain free and open, or is it going to be increasingly under more control? With companies like Verizon, which sued to overturn the FCC’s net neutrality rules, is control slowly creeping in?

Gini: One of my favorite topics! I totally get companies need to make money. We do, after all, live in a capitalistic country. But the issue I have with it is net neutrality allows us all to compete at the same level. So, right now, I have the same access as the global agencies. I am able to use the web to build Arment Dietrich to the point that we can play in the same field as those companies. If companies, and individuals, will be charged for their Internet use, the level playing field disappears and the companies with the most money win. As a small business owner, that really, really pains me.

Q: And what about that NAME? A good PR effort might make network neutrality more understandable to the average citizen, right?

Gini: You know, that might very well be why not many people are up in arms about it … the name. I agree with you. It should be something that makes more sense. Hey Americans! You might have to pay for your Internet usage! I guess that name is too long.

Q: A lot is being said about authenticity online at the moment. Can you truly be transparent online? Should you?

Gini: I don’t think you can be completely transparent. In business there are certain things that are still proprietary and shouldn’t be discussed outside of your four walls. Ever. Personally, it makes me nuts when people use the web as their venting outposts. We almost hired someone who uses Facebook that way. I couldn’t imagine having this person working with us because of it. So, while I’m human and pretty authentic, you can never tell I’m in a bad mood. Unless I say, “I’m grouchy,” which never lasts long because someone will say something that makes me laugh and then I’m no longer grouchy.

Q: What is the single best way for a beginning blogger to drive traffic to his or her site? And if there is one tool you could recommend to measure results, what would it be?

Gini: The best way is search, then Twitter, then Google+, then Facebook, then LinkedIn. But the very first thing a new blogger should do is send the link to his or her database. We all have friends and family. Send it to them, explain the vision, and ask them to take a look. Some people will subscribe and some won’t. But it’s a great starting point. Every blogger has to learn search. If you don’t know it, pay for some help through SEO Scribe, Yoast, or InboundWriter.

And the one tool to measure results is Google analytics. It’s free, it’s easy to install, and it gives you enough data to be smart about what you’re doing. Any blogger not using this tool is, well, insane.

Q: What will blogging be like in ten years? Will social media even be recognizable as it is now?

Gini: Shoot. There is that crystal ball question. Nope, I don’t think social media will be recognizable as it is now. In fact, I think email will die and we’ll all be using some form of social as our method of communication. I think content, or owned media, will continue to grow and evolve and become more sophisticated. So it might not be blogging, but it will be some form of it.

Q: Is there one company, organization, or industry that has PR all wrong at the moment, especially with regard to social media? Could you elaborate?

Gini: Just one?! Ragu just had a big misstep using Twitter. Marie Callendar’s created its own crisis with bloggers. It’s great there are companies out there trying things, but the thing that bothers me about what they’re doing is they’re clearly shooting in the dark. Most of them have large, global PR firms working with them and those companies have digital departments. But the people working in those departments have never used the social tools. Social media cannot be learned by reading and through theory. It has to be learned through doing. And, if you’re a PR pro and you’re not using the tools yourself, other than for clients, you’re not going to be able to best counsel your clients.

Q: Honestly, how good (or bad) is President Obama’s crew at handling public relations?

Gini: Terrible. It’s terrible. They don’t have a message, like they did when he ran. I’m always afraid to say more about the White House because I’m afraid someone will say, “Oh yeah? Put your money where your mouth is and go advise him.” And I have zero desire to do that.

Q: Why was the Old Spice guy such a viral sensation?

Gini: Because he’s hot? You can’t ever tell if something is going to go viral. We have a joke internally, when clients ask us to create a viral campaign, that we advise them to do a video of two guys kicking each other in the nuts. THAT will go viral. But saying you can recreate the magic of the Old Spice guy is impossible. Some of it was the right time at the right place. Some of it was because they were the first. And some of it was because he’s hot.

Q: Not all Spin Sucks fans are PR pros. For the people out there who think that PR is basically sending out press releases and creating “buzz” could you tell us what PR really is these days in 30 words or less?

Gini: It’s reputation management, brand building, and a driver of sales through owned and earned media.

Q: As unethical as it might be, could effective PR save Charlie Sheen? Can anybody save Charlie Sheen? Should they? Do you care?

Gini: I think PR did save Charlie Sheen. Have you seen him lately? He’s been on all the talk shows saying he’s cleaned up his act and the media is agreeing that he seems normal again. THAT is PR.

Q: Could you elaborate on the most beneficial way to use each of the major platforms, especially for a beginning blogger?  I’m talking about Google+, Twitter, and Facebook.

Gini: Twitter is a networking and engagement tool. When I started on Twitter, I looked for people who had PR, marketing, or CEO in their bio. I followed them, got to know them, and created my first network of friends. Now I use Twitter as a way to curate content. I tweet a blog or news article at least 10 times a day. Our blog is included in that four times a day, each with a different headline, but same link. People follow me just for the news I’m curating for them.

Google+ is so new you can still experiment with it. I post our blog in there once a day and then measure shares, +1s, and traffic.

Facebook can be set up with Networked Blogs so it does all the work for you.

Really, you should be experimenting and testing different messages on the different platforms. And watch your analytics to see what works and what doesn’t work. You also should test different times of different days. For instance, I know that by 8 a.m. on Mondays and Tuesdays is best for Spin Sucks. But later in the day on Friday is better.

Q: How did you end up in Chicago?

Gini: I was in Kansas City after college and it got to be too small. I kept running into people I didn’t want to see. It was time to leave. So it was between Chicago, New York, and Madison, Wis. I was actually offered the best job, with the most money, in Madison. But I couldn’t see being there as a single woman without a family. So I choose Chicago. That was 10 years ago. It’s the longest I’ve ever lived anywhere.

I would like to thank Gini for taking the time to answer all these questions. She has offered some great advice here and I’ve already started to implement some of her suggestions on my site. I certainly hope this provides some value to you.

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{ 87 comments… read them below or add one }

Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

Totally fun, Craig! Thanks for having me. xoxox
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 5:55 pm

Gini, Thank you for making yourself available and putting up with me and my questions. Really appreciate the answers, and advice!

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Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 6:16 pm

Rockin’ great; chock full of nuts…er great information: expected nothing less! Loved the questions, super-loved the answers. Wow…Gini in the house: your new house. You have super-hero powers my friend. Can you share your secret with me?

Keep up the great work: you’re looking like a seasoned veteran and pro at this! And thanks, Gini, for sharing so much, so graciously. I shall send you vegetarian bacon:) Cheers! Kaarina
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 6:31 pm

Kaarina,

Hello and thanks for dropping in. Yes, this interview is certainly chock full of great information, that’s for sure. It’s funny I went through the answers and now have a big checklist of things I must do, thanks to Gini.

No secret. Lisa Gerber (who is also great) started the ball rolling and well … Gini is cool like that. I was as surprised as you that she wanted to do the interview just like that, but agreed and sent the questions back pretty darn quick. It’s a little self-serving, because … well this rookie needs to know some things. :)

But … vegetarian bacon :(-

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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 6:40 pm

I still don’t understand a person who doesn’t like chocolate. But I’m willing to forgive it because I like you so much!

You want to know his super powers?! I’ll tell you! He asked. And I said yes. :)
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 6:47 pm

I didn’t have to beg or anything :) (Read, Gini Dietrich is a very cool lady)

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Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

That is so Gini of you:) I will send you any and all chocolate I receive (which always makes me LMAO when I receive chocolate as a speaker gift:)
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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm

How do you get speaker gifts? I don’t get speaker gifts!
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Lori Gosselin October 19, 2011 at 6:37 pm

Hey Craig, Hey Gini – lots of great information here! But even after reading it all I STILL don’t know how Gini does all she does! Maybe this interview needs to be studied instead of read! LOL
Super questions Craig.
Lori
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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 6:41 pm

LOL! I’m having a week that I’m not sure I’m going to be able to do it. So perhaps we should just all admit we’re all human and some days we are extremely focused and others we should just go back to bed and pull the covers up over our heads.
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 6:49 pm

You’re being too modest. We all know you never do that.

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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 6:51 pm

Um, no. I told our CFO today that I wanted to do that and I added crying in there. He said, “You’ve worked way too hard this year to do that. Buck up!” So I bucked up.
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 7:02 pm

CFOs can be like that :)

Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 7:05 pm

I am definitely sending you chocolate…and vegetarian bacon…and lavender sachets from my garden (when I finally get around to making them!).
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 6:50 pm

I’m still studying it. Hopefully it doesn’t appear too self-serving :)

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Al Smith October 19, 2011 at 7:27 pm

Oh it does. Very self-serving. Ha ! Just kidding Craig. Great job. enjoyed the questions (most of them) and answers (some of them). Luv ya Gini.

Seriously, this was very well done. Bill called me the rook for awhile, and if you keep doing stuff like this, I will be the rook again. Very impressive. You have come a long way in a short time. And I could not think of a better, smarter more adorable person to interview than…….. me. I mean Gini. dam. Sorry.

Super job by both of you. I know you both CARE a lot.

Al
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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 7:38 pm

Hey now…I will always be more adorable than you so watch your Ps and Qs, crazy!
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

That transparent, huh?

Glad you enjoyed it, Al. Can’t we both be rookies for a while?

Dude, you’re appealing in your own way, but adorable would be a stretch. We do CARE a lot.

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Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 6:38 pm

Craig, I don’t think you’ll be able to keep calling yourself a rookie. You’re in the big leagues now:)

Oh, I wasn’t surprised Gini’d do an interview: she’s kind and helpful to the core. But as the self-professed rookie you call yourself, I just wanted to know what super-powers you have so I can try and get some too!

And ditto on the vegetarian bacon, but between my faux pas of not realizing Gini’s vegetarian, and admitting in public that I dislike chocolate, I didn’t want to put myself deeper into the Dietrich doghouse, haha! Cheers! Kaarina
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Craig McBreen October 19, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Bill Dorman tagged me the rookie, and I actually like that title. Kaarina, you are way to nice and you’re giving me too much credit …

Honestly, Gini just made it that easy for me. As you said, kind and helpful to the core.

As for bacon, well just love the real stuff.

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Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 7:06 pm

OK Rook:)
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Kaarina Dillabough October 19, 2011 at 7:50 pm

Hey, I wanted to reply to Gini’s speaker gift comment, but no little reply button. So I’m replying here:

Speaker gifts? Must be a Canadian thing, haha!
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Nancy Davis October 19, 2011 at 8:45 pm

Really nicely done Craig. Great interview with Ms. Gini here. No one can ever call you a “rookie” anymore that is for sure!

I think you really went about things the right way, you developed relationships and let people get to know you first. That is a great way to go about getting your blog started.

When I started my blog, I wanted to see if it was good enough to survive without people knowing I was going to launch. I did that to see if it was good enough to be found on its own, but my intent is to improve my writing and to help others. Thankfully I seem to be doing both.

As far as gifts go – I hear Gini loves bacon!
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Gini Dietrich October 19, 2011 at 10:44 pm

You are mean.
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Nancy Davis October 19, 2011 at 10:48 pm

No I am not. I am awesome and you love me. :)
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 1:00 am

Nancy,

Thanks! No longer the rookie, huh? Does this mean I now need to post more than once a week? :)

Yes, you are providing great writing and certainly helping others with some of the subjects you are writing about. Plus, you write every day! A considerable achievement … don’t think I’ll ever attempt that pace.

If I was a vegetarian, trapped in a room with sizzling bacon, I think I’d no longer be a vegetarian :) Sending a gift of bacon might do the same.

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Bill Dorman October 20, 2011 at 2:27 am

Don’t believe them rook, just because you got Gini to answer some questions still only gives you so much street cred……..and guess what, I knew this was coming from my face to face w/ Ms Gini on Monday. ….:)

This was certainly an interesting format and you picked the right person. Gini is the real deal and a very gracious and giving person in spite of her incredibly busy schedule.

I’m on the golf course for four days and answering this very late at night but wanted to make sure I made it by.

Great job and there is certainly some very good info loaded in here coming from the best.

I hate to say this, but the one thing I have never done is try to drive traffic to my site other than commenting on other people’s posts. I wouldn’t say I’m still a rookie in that arena because I know what to do, but I’m content just clunking along for now; whatever that looks like.

You are doing great my friend and certainly doing a lot of the right things; I have nothing to offer you at this point other than to just keep on doing it.

Thanks for sharing.
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Notice how he had to insert that he’s on the golf course for four days while the rest of us slave away at our desks? Mind you, it’s 30 degrees and raining in Chicago so I couldn’t golf if I wanted to, but that’s not the point!
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Kaarina Dillabough October 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Yeah, Gini, he’s like that. PLUS he tells me he had a single malt…in my absence! Salt in a wound I tell ya:)
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 4:33 pm

Boy, I hear ya both. Bill drinks single malt? I thought he was a beer and chips guy :)

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Bill Dorman October 21, 2011 at 3:42 am

I’m still trying to find out the name, but it was smooth….
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Bill Dorman October 21, 2011 at 3:41 am

What? You knew I lived in paradise……..we are still in short sleeves and pants…:)
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Craig McBreen October 21, 2011 at 4:07 pm

As Kaarina said … salt in the wound. It’s 50 degrees and raining again … stays that way until June in these parts.

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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I thought you knew about this :) It’s really thanks to you that I met Gini in the first place. I mean, you kept telling me how nice and cool she was, and now I know.

I suggested the interview in one of my comments many weeks ago. Lisa Gerber kindly suggested I give it a go, I contacted Gini and just like that, she agreed. I’m still a bit starstruck, but I’m like that. Talk about the real deal.

I’m with Gini on the golf course bragging. C’mon, Dorman, cut it out. Oh, in Seattle today, it’s 50 degrees and drizzling (how unusual), I know. Actually I love the clouds. I’d get nothing done living in a sunny climate.

Driving traffic. I guess that’s the next step, eh? I’d say commenting has worked very, very well for you, but you are EVERYWHERE! I honestly don’t know how you do it, you need to write a productivity manifesto too.

Thanks for the kind words and thanks for stopping by, my friend!

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John Falchetto October 20, 2011 at 7:42 am

Hi Craig,
Thanks for helping up and coming bloggers like Gini get their voices heard online ;)

Seriously, Gini is probably the first A-list blogger I felt comfortable commenting and discussing with on her blog. Most of the other big names don’t answer their comments or ignore you if you are not a ‘name’ in social media.
The fact that I got to meet her IRL last spring was a big moment for me, as Mr Dorman can agree there is always two moments in life, the Before you meet GD and the After you meet GD.
In one word, she rocks!
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 12:29 pm

Before GD and after GD?! LOL! Just when I think I can’t like you anymore than I already do, John….
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 4:17 pm

Hi John,
:) Yeah, I thought she could use a boost in traffic :)

Yes, I’ve been ignored by more than a few too. But Gini started getting back to me before I even had a blog, well, just like you did :) I think I mentioned being starstruck with people like Gini, Danny and Mark S when they followed me back on Twitter, sans-blog that is. Must be the kid in me. Anyway, I better stop with this toady behavior or their heads will grow to epic proportions. :)

“Before you meet GD and the After you meet GD.” I like that! I’m hoping to get to meet the Queen of Social media IRL at some point in the future. I’ll wear my Sunday best and try to behave. I’ll bring my wife like Bill did … hopefully she won’t embarrass me, she’s good at that and I know she is reading this :)

I think I’m outdoing Marcus with the emoticons ;)

Yes, she rocks!

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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 5:01 pm

You totally outdid Marcus with the emoticons. Now we just need you to say “dang” and you’re #winning!
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 5:13 pm

Ha ha, #winning! That lead down an interesting path on Twitter.

I won’t say it. I think Marcus has trademarked that word.

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Jimmy October 20, 2011 at 8:48 am

I enjoyed this interview very much. Gini shared her personal disciplines and routines without holding anything back. We got a good glimpse into how she approaches her work and blog. That could be really helpful for those of us rookies still struggling a bit in the dark

It was also interesting to note that she has put social media way ahead of the best traffic tips. So far from my rookie search, most people are suggesting commenting and all with social media distant second. Perhaps she could explain a little more. Is it something to do with the profile of the blogger or something else.

Thanks for the interview Craig.
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Hey Jimmy! Twitter has been our biggest driver of traffic, outside of search, for years now. Commenting on other’s blogs really helps with comments on Spin Sucks and with building community. But less than one percent of our traffic actually comments. Twitter is our number three driver of traffic (search is first and then people going direct). From there it’s the subscriptions, Facebook, Google+, and other blogs.

We have one client who doesn’t use Twitter and his third traffic driver is LinkedIn. So there are ways to use the social tools to build traffic really well.
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 4:29 pm

Hi Jimmy,

Thanks for stopping by, and for the kind words.

She shared her personal disciplines and routines all right! Did you take notes? I did. I’m finally a good student. I especially liked her comments on how to effectively use the social media platforms. I feel like I’m totally in the dark in that area. Finally getting the hang of Twitter, but really need to embrace these tools and stop dinking around.

Like you, I thought it was all about commenting, so I need to embrace the social media tools out there. And SEO. I haven’t done squat there.

By the way if you want some other tips, there’s a guy named Danny Brown – you may have heard of him :) – and he offered some great advice on my very first post. I asked the typical newb questions and he responded!

Thanks for the visit, Jimmy.

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Danny Brown October 20, 2011 at 2:24 pm

You mentioned The Conference That Shall Not Be Named – by name! You are officially disowned.
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 2:30 pm

Don’t disown me! I only used it as an example because Craig asked specifically about it.
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Danny Brown October 20, 2011 at 2:32 pm

You could have taken the Fifth… ;-)

Hmmm, maybe probation for a bit, then…
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 3:51 pm

You’re right. I should have just left them out and talked about other conferences. I’m sorry. Forgive me?
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 4:37 pm

There are OTHER conferences?

Danny Brown October 20, 2011 at 5:15 pm

I’ll think about it…
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Jack October 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

Alternatively you could always give her a fifth. ;)

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Danny Brown October 21, 2011 at 1:27 pm

That sounds dirty… ;-)
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Craig McBreen October 21, 2011 at 4:04 pm

Mr. Jameson to the rescue :)

Alicia Jay October 20, 2011 at 8:49 pm

Hey Craig and Gini!

Wow, Craig–you came up with some awesome questions! How long did it take you to think of them? Or did they just start rolling when you knew you’d be asking Gini?

Awesome answers that certainly give us all something to think about. Gini, I know you mentioned about not being too transparent. I think you were just the right amount in this interview:)
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Gini Dietrich October 20, 2011 at 9:02 pm

Thanks Alicia! I thought the questions were really good, too.
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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 11:27 pm

Gini, I’m glad you thought so. I was a tad worried since this was the first series of interview questions I’ve done, really.

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Craig McBreen October 20, 2011 at 11:25 pm

Alicia,

Thank you! The fact that I knew about Gini’s knowledge on all the topics was a big help, from Seth Godin to … um, Charlie Sheen. She did seem a bit fixated on the Old Spice guy though ;-) A few of the ideas came to me when I was listening to a Copyblogger podcast, which I’ll say is great by the way, even though Brian never follows me back. I wonder why ;)

As I stated above, she made it easy for me. And yes, great, great answers. Now I have an even larger to-do list, and I’m sure a few other people do as well.

When GD speaks, people listen.

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Alicia Jay October 21, 2011 at 11:56 pm

“When GD speaks, people listen.” Love this line! Are we all going to get those cause wristbands with this slogan!

Oh, FYI: The Old Spice guy is hot. So, it’s ok that she mentioned it more than once;)
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Craig McBreen October 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm

You can credit John Falchetto with the “GD” moniker. Wristbands are good. Maybe a, “When GD speaks, people listen.” T-Shirt is in order :)

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Jack October 21, 2011 at 2:25 am

Does the rookie know that he is responsible for buying drinks at the next gathering?

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Craig McBreen October 21, 2011 at 4:02 pm

I had no idea. Is this some kind of initiation thing? ;)

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Ifdy Perez October 21, 2011 at 3:10 pm

Gini’s my hero! Honest to Bob, I learn something new in everything she writes. .)

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Gini Dietrich October 21, 2011 at 3:16 pm

“Honest to Bob”?!?! LOL!!
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Ifdy Perez October 21, 2011 at 3:18 pm
Craig McBreen October 21, 2011 at 4:11 pm

I do too … honest to bob ;) Thanks, Ifdy.

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Marcus Sheridan-The Sales Lion October 22, 2011 at 3:51 pm

Craig, look at you man! Talk about hitting a home run with this interview, you really got a jewel in Gini, and as always, she seems to have really taken the time to give great content.

I see Spin Sucks as one of the great examples of ‘Doing it Right’ online. If I were to go back again and start over blogging, I would just study SS, and Gini’s methods, for about a month…every day…and then I’d start writing. She really exemplifies everything that is good about blogging.

Oh, and did I mention she is as classy and kind a person I’ve met, online or off?

This was great Craig, keep it up buddy.

Marcus
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Craig McBreen October 22, 2011 at 7:31 pm

Thank you, Sir. Means a lot coming from The Lion. Lisa Gerber initiated the interview process, and then Gini just made it easy for me. I appreciate her taking the time and I’ve learned quite a bit from her answers. Yes, she certainly took the time to provide great advice with her responses and I hope a few people have learned a trick or two.

Spin Sucks is indeed doing it right, but you’re not doing to bad for yourself over there ;) Very cool to see how you’re progressing into the speaking arena. Love your latest post and the comments. Learning quite a bit just reading through those.

Oh, and I have been studying Spin Sucks, that’s for sure, so that made coming up with more than a few questions pretty easy.

Marcus, thanks for stopping by!

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Gini Dietrich October 24, 2011 at 9:28 pm

I guess my mom’s check arrived, huh?!
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Craig McBreen October 24, 2011 at 9:54 pm

Thank you (read Mom) for putting me on the Spin Sucks payroll. ;) That was easy, huh? And she came up with such good material, but did she have to slip in the Charlie Sheen and Old Spice questions? Man!

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Michael Schechter October 25, 2011 at 3:38 am

Thanks Craig and a hell of a thorough interview. Makes me want to go learn more about this Gini Dietrich person!
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Craig McBreen October 25, 2011 at 8:06 pm

Thank you! Ha ha, Yeah, I can’t remember where I heard about her, but she sure knows her stuff, eh? :)

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Michael Schechter October 25, 2011 at 8:08 pm

She really does, I don’t know how she has managed to remain under a rock for this long. She should be on the Ad Age 150 or something… and well above Danny Brown at that!
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Craig McBreen October 25, 2011 at 8:19 pm

Another person I’ve heard of who seems to know more than the average bear :) He’s also pretty quick with the comebacks, so you better watch out :)

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Gini Dietrich October 26, 2011 at 10:19 pm
Craig McBreen October 26, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Michael started it ;)

Barry R. Silver October 29, 2011 at 2:27 am

Craig,
As a 1st time visitor to your blog, I dwelled more on your questions than Gini’s answers ( I have the opportunity to respond to Gini’s answers 6 days a week) So as a short time blogger looking for my niche, allow me to share what I got from you:
You are fearless. The interview with Gini was pretty long and you chose quality over arbitrary length limit. You may lose some readers over the length of the interview but screw them, quality is better than one size fits all.
Balance: Just remember why you blog and don’t let the compulsion to post or market (Comment on other blogs) obscure the reason you blog (family and personal growth should be on the list).
Finding niche and/or making money: I’m not qualified to comment but that doesn’t stop me. I think if you properly sell yourself (people commit to you) all else will follow. I think 18 mos from now you’ll be pleased with how far you’ve come. Keep at it, it’s good stuff.
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Craig McBreen October 31, 2011 at 6:29 pm

Hi Barry,

Thanks for stopping by, I really appreciate it. And thank you for the compliments as well, I really love getting feedback. Actually, it was fairly easy coming up with the questions because: 1. Someone like Gini, with her expertise, makes coming up with good questions easy and 2. I wanted to know a lot of this stuff, so maybe the interview was a bit self-serving :)

This is some valuable information, Barry. I too am working on narrowing my niche, so feedback like this really helps.

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Adam Toporek November 2, 2011 at 12:40 pm

Really not sure how I missed this one Craig. Gini mentioned it to me when I saw her weeks ago, but alas…

You did a great job with the questions, and I was surprised about how much I learned about Gini, even after being on Spin Sucks for awhile now. Also, to echo Barry, impressed that you went for depth and just not a little quick hit. It ended up working really well!

Good job Craig! And good job Gini!
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Gini Dietrich November 2, 2011 at 1:04 pm

Thanks Adam! I hope you’re not going to listen to Danny and drop Spin Sucks out of your Reader. He’s mean.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2011 at 6:04 pm

Hey Adam,

Thanks, man! As for being in-depth, I mentioned a couple of points to Barry, but here are a few more:

1. I didn’t want Gini to think I was just some rube.

2. I was hoping Danny Brown would be impressed and offer to be interviewed ;)

Thanks for the Charlie Rose comparison. That cracked me up! I’m not kidding about the black screen. Marcus has been motivating me on the video front. Well motivating all of us ;)

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Jeannie Walters November 2, 2011 at 4:35 pm

Nice interview, Craig! Gini is a gem, but please don’t tell her I said so.
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Gini Dietrich November 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm

I can see you BFF!
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Jeannie Walters November 2, 2011 at 4:48 pm

I have to get better at this.
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Craig McBreen November 2, 2011 at 6:05 pm

Hi Jeannine,

Thank you! She is a gem, but the word is out on that one ;)

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Kyle April 23, 2012 at 5:19 am

Hey I really enjoyed your informative article on An interview with Gini Dietrich. Very nice post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I’ve truly enjoyed surfing around your blog posts.
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Craig McBreen May 4, 2012 at 12:34 am

Hi Kyle,

Thank you! Gini is the best.

I ‘m so glad you appreciate the posts and hope you plan to come back.

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Gini Dietrich May 4, 2012 at 12:58 pm

Who is this Gini you speak of?
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Craig McBreen May 4, 2012 at 11:53 pm

A wise woman from The City of Big Shoulders ;)

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