Gini Dietrich is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of PR firm, Arment Dietrich, Inc. a firm that uses non-traditional marketing in a digital world. She is the founder the professional development site for PR and marketing pros, Spin Sucks Pro, and co-author of the forthcoming Marketing In the Round. 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. 
One of the top rated communication professionals on the social networks, Gini was recently named the number one PR person, according to Klout and TechCrunch, on the channels, and number one on Twitter, according to TweetLevel. She also can be found writing at Crain’s Chicago Business, AllBusiness, and Franchise Times. She is a member of the Vistage coaching program, speaker, communicator, avid cyclist and foodie. You can follow her on twitter @ginidietrich.
Tatjana spoke with Gini about public relations, social media and much more.

You are from Salt Lake City. How did you end up in Chicago?
It was easy! I went to Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska. From there, I went to work at Fleishman-Hillard in Kansas City. I moved to Chicago in February 2001. I’ve been moving east since high school. Maybe I’ll eventually end up in Europe!

You started your PR agency Arment Dietrich in 2005. How did the PR industry change since then, particularly in regard to the Internet?
It’s completely changed! There are many, many PR professionals who still do things the way they’ve always been done. But it’s time to adjust, adapt, and move forward. When I started my career, email was just being incorporated into businesses so we shipped documents to clients for approvals, they marked them up with red pens, and shipped them back. We had these great, big green books that listed all of the reporters. You had to make copies of the pages you want and you picked up the phone and called them. One of my very first projects, as a new college graduate, was to create Potato Planners. Using the Steven Covey day planners, we created planners for potato farmers that highlighted different weed, insect, and fungus control and when to spray chemicals to control each. Today, having a three ring binder planner like that is unheard of. The Internet has completely changed the way we do our jobs.

Would you say your clients recognise Internet PR as an important communication channel?
Absolutely! Not all of them are using the social networks, but we do that by design. We do a lot of B2B work so it doesn’t make sense for some to be on Twitter, for instance.
How do you keep your clients happy?
Who says they’re happy?? I can’t take credit for keeping them happy. My team does that. My job is to coach and mentor my team so they can coach and mentor our clients. If my team is happy, our clients are happy.
Tell our readers about your blog Spin Sucks, why did you start it, and what’s with the name? Any idea where it will go?
I get pretty tired of telling people I do PR for a living and they say, “Oh so you spin the truth?” When we started the blog in 2006, spinsucks.com was available and, if you read the blog, you’ll notice I say the word “sucks” a lot. So it fit our culture and personality, but also allows us to drive the message that spin sucks and we aren’t all liars.
What does your day look  like?  How many hours per day do you blog? And how does that interact with your “real work”?
My days vary. For instance, I spent all day yesterday in a board meeting with a company that is growing like crazy. My job is to make sure their marketing team stays on task and evolves. But, typically, Mondays I do all of my client and employee meetings. I usually travel 2-3 days a week. Fridays I block to work on the business or to catch up on things I missed during the week. I spend the first hour of every day (5-6 a.m.) blogging.
Tell us about your podcast Inside PR http://www.insidepr.ca/ ?
Inside PR was started by David Jones and Terry Fallis five or six years ago. About two years ago, Terry’s business partner, Joe Thornley, and our mutual friend, Martin Waxman, called and said they wanted to have a U.S. presence and a woman on the podcast and asked if I was interested. I love doing it! We talk PR, marketing, social media, and how it all intersects. I’ve learned a lot about Canadian politics from them.
Do you have a favourite PR campaign among your own? What about your favourite campaign by others?
We have one program I’m really proud of from last year. My team developed an integrated marketing communication program that increased sales for a client by $2.2 million. The return-on-investment was pretty significant.
I really like the work the NY Times is doing with Facebook and Tumblr. I love what JetBlue does with social media. And it’s fun to watch things such as the photo campaign Disney did with Annie Leibovitz.
To stay on top of the game one must keep up to date in the PR industry. Any tips for newcomers how to stay informed and current?
Yes! Subscribe to Spin Sucks Pro!
It’s hard to stay informed and current. Get ongoing professional development through the industry organizations or companies such as MarketingProfs and Ragan (and Spin Sucks Pro). Also read, read, read…and ask lots of questions of your superiors.
I know of many smaller companies wanting to be covered in trade publications but lacking the money for a professional PR agency. Can you spill one or two secrets how they can get good media coverage with little money?
YES! It takes some time, but this works really well. We call it the response campaign. Just like many of us comment on blogs, you can do the same with trade publications. Comment on their articles. Provide smart commentary. Write letters to the editor. Offer to write columns for them (make sure they’re educational and not sales-y).
Before Twitter most of us never had a chance to engage in a many-to-many conversation quickly and worldwide. With classical media – from newspapers to TV – we had a harsh culling process before we came to a position where we could present our ideas to the world (and even that was a limited world). How did Twitter change your life?
Twitter changed my life because I began to meet people like you. Never before would I have had the opportunity to not only meet someone in Serbia, but to become friends and be part of their day-to-day lives. It also really gave us a competitive edge. All of the big PR firms are in Chicago. We can compete now because companies have heard of us. Four years ago, no one had ever heard of us.
Companies like Klout or PeerIndex want to measure an individuals’ online influence. I don’t think their methods are very  sound: if somebody with an audience of over 10,000 retweets one of my tweets it makes no difference to my score compared to the same RT by someone with only a handful followers. What do you think, is there a sensible way to measure Twitter influence?
I think Klout is ridiculous. There is a difference between influence and popularity. Klout measures popularity. But, just because you’re popular, doesn’t mean people trust you or buy  based on your recommendations. A person who has 100 blog readers and can recommend something and they all buy has far more influence than someone with 30,000 Twitter followers. We’re all obsessed with numbers. I have 20,000+ Twitter followers. But we’ve gotten business from maybe two clients through Twitter. It’s great for networking and building a brand. It sucks for business results.
Many Serbian Twitter users are obsessed to become influential Twats like Stephen Fry, John Hodgman or Nathan Fillion. Those with more than 3,000 followers are used by politicians to promote their agenda – every so often for money. Others promote products without clarifying that the Tweets are paid for by companies. How do you see this hidden Marketing for someone or something on Twitter?
In the U.S., it’s unethical to not disclose what (or who) you’re tweeting for. We have an internal policy that any tweeting we do on behalf of client is disclosed with (client). I’d rather err on the side of disclosure and be ethical than not.
Political movements like the Arab Spring have successfully used Facebook and Twitter lately. Strangely enough, while ‘Egypt’,‘Jan25’, ‘Libya’, and ‘Bahrain’ easily broke the half million, often million mentions on Twitter, making them strong trending  topics, #occupywallstreet wasn’t as potent. For example, in October 2011, ‘Occupy Wall Street’ was trending everywhere on Twitter except in the United States. What do you think, was Twitter blocking ‘Occupy Wall Street’ from trending in the USA? Or was that just an algorithm artefact?
It’s really interesting that you’re the second person outside of the U.S. to ask me about this during an interview. I think Occupy Wall Street was a big deal here, but it was really unorganized, it didn’t have one voice, and they couldn’t figure out their messaging. It sounds like it was a bigger deal for those of you outside of the U.S. looking in. It seemed to have had a lot of attention for a couple of months and then it died off. It also could be that it turned cold in most states so no one wanted to sit outside and protest.
The sweeping success of the first wave of protests and uprisings in Northern Africa, the Arab world, and partially in Europe and the USA led many to believe Web 2.0 will bring profound change. Will social media, in your opinion, bring sustained political and societal revolution?
I know Malcolm Gladwell doesn’t think so. But I do think it will bring sustained revolution. It allows us to gather around passions, interests, and issues really quickly. Much more quickly than any other communication method. It also gives lower classes a voice – a voice they didn’t have before.
Considering that Justin Bieber is trending every day on Twitter I am sceptical … I wonder how free the Internet really is, how much of it is manipulated by big corporations or governments. Perhaps the new Internet tools, like Twitter, are just a fad. What do you think, are we really seeing something like Gutenberg’s revolution  – even on a grander scale?
Of course it’s gamed. Just like anything else. I hate the term “spin doctor” because I’m pretty ethical. But there are people in the PR industry who lie for a living. And they’ re OK with doing it. It’s the same thing with anything else. People are people. If there is a short cut or a way to game a system, there are those who will do it.
How would you describe the current situation of political PR in the US?
Well…we’re coming up on the primary elections for the Republican Presidential candidate who will run against Obama. These last few days will see a lot of attack ads, mean spirited debates, and people’s names dragged through the mud. It’s not fun. Most of us turn the TV and radio off until after the elections.