Spin Sucks: Is It Time to Change Your Story? (Book Review)

April 2, 2014

spin sucks book review

Sex sells. But unless you’re actually selling sex, it’s time to try something new. At least that’s one of the points that Gini Dietrich makes in her latest book, Spin Sucks

The Elevator Pitch

More than just a book about pitching ideas, Spin Sucks pulls from experiences of brands of all shapes and sizes to  teach you how to communicate honestly and authentically to earn consumer trust and business. And hey, maybe some press, too.

What I thought would be a guide to writing strong press releases and building relationships with journalists, was an easy-to-read, and easy to understand guide into something deeper: story telling and how it plays a huge part in your brand’s public appearance. And to fully bring the story to life, Dietrich gives advice and direction for strengthening your storytelling with social media, email, search engine optimization, and more. When a bad review or a rogue tweet can instantly hurt your brand’s reputation, there’s no better time than now to arm yourself with the secrets of a seasoned public relations pro.

4 Big Ideas from Spin Sucks

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich

Packed full of lists, tips, and examples, the book had me grabbing my highlighter and Post-It notes to mark paragraphs and pages to revisit. A few thoughts that I have earmarked to remember are definitely worth sharing:

If you have a story worth telling, you don’t have to spin it — With the increase in content marketing, we’re seeing a shift towards photos, videos, blogs, podcasts, and more — yet, if there’s not a story to tell with these pieces, they fall short. Being a content marketer myself, I felt that I was telling stories until Gini made me dive in deeper. Drawing on story constructs such as protagonists, revelations, and transformations — the book outlines how a movie or novel can help you see how to better tell your brand’s story – and even better, maybe a story you hadn’t thought of before. The result if done well? More earned media without selling or spinning.

If you build it, they will not come — As an Iowan, I was proud to see a reference to Field of Dreams in this book. Unlike the baseball story from this historic movie, building an online presence or joining a social network doesn’t automatically bring fans or customers out of the woodwork (or corn fields). Without a strategy in place, frustration may set in, time can be wasted, and efforts can be abandoned. With Google putting more emphasis on social network sharing and website content, it’s a missed opportunity if you aren’t using these tools wisely.

Your customers control your brand — Now more than ever, even the catchiest of taglines and funniest of memes can’t override a poor customer experience or a campaign gone wrong. Gini sums up this point well: “If you’re going to grow a business, you have to use the Web to do it, and you can’t control that. Instead, control your operations, your culture, and your talent. The rest will come.” Rather than trying to cover or control what might be said, give your customers something good to say through your organization’s actions online and off.

Manage an issue now, before it becomes a crisis — Behind every brand are humans – and we humans make mistakes. It’s how we handle these mistakes that will set brands apart quickly. Managing an issue requires communication, swift action, and addressing the problem. A great line to remember from the book is, “it’s not the content of the story that matters, but who tells it first.” Own the message and own up to actions. The cardinal rule of “don’t be afraid to say you’re sorry” is embedded deeply in this book with brands who could have used this lesson themselves.

Spin SucksSo, Should You Read It?

Spin Sucks is definitely one that I’d recommend for businesses and organizations of all sizes – even if you think you’re doing PR right, this book might open your eyes. Filled with practical tips, tricks, and tools, this book falls into the category of desk reference or guide. And at a mere 146 pages, this is a book that can be easily read and passed around through your marketing team before your next strategy session.

If you don’t pick it up, your competition will. And they’ll be instantly ahead of you.

Want a FREE Copy of Spin Sucks?

We’re giving one lucky reader a chance to experience this book for themselves. To enter, use the Rafflecopter widget below to tweet about the giveaway. We’ll select our winner this Friday April 4, 2014 at 12:00 PM CST.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

BONUS! The Official Spin Sucks Trailer!

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is a strategist, speaker, educator, and author of Brand Now: How to Stand Out in a Crowded, Distracted World and Get Scrappy: Smarter Digital Marketing for Businesses Big and Small. He is the Chief Brand Strategist at Brand Driven Digital, an educator at the University of Iowa, and host of the On Brand podcast. More about Nick.