Book Review: Spin Sucks, an Indispensable Marketing Guide

Spin Sucks ReviewIf you buy just one business book this year, make it mine. If you buy two business books, then I strongly recommend Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age.

It’s a new book authored by Gini Dietrich, CEO of marketing and communications firm Arment Dietrich.

For years Dietrich has run one of the preeminent marketing blogs in the industry. Now she’s put together her collected wisdom and experience into this book.

Not Your Dad’s Business Book

I dislike most business books. They’re dull, dry and a slog to get through. But this book is full of story and sass and has a strong, engaging point of view.

The title, Spin Sucks, takes square aim at the many people who give PR and marketing a bad name. Not just the scammers who promise to get you 10,000 Twitter followers or instantly repair your online reputation—it also goes after those who cut corners, don’t do their homework and don’t deliver real results, leaving behind a trail of disappointed clients.

The book exposes bad practices related to social media, search engine optimization, content marketing, media relations, crisis communications, reputation management and other topics vital to the success of any business.

It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Dietrich points to a better way: good PR and marketing takes time, forethought and hard work. Or, as she says:

The secret sauce is this: there is no secret sauce.

I love that. If you’re looking for easy answers and overnight results, this isn’t the book for you.

But if you’re prepared to take a thoughtful, deliberate, long-range approach to winning customers and growing your business, then you’ll want to check out Spin Sucks. It’s an indispensable guide to navigating your way through the digital world.

Packed With Stories

While Dietrich provides plenty of evidence to back up her assertions, she also brings the data to life with tons of great stories and up-to-the-minute examples from the world of business—some well known and some directly from her own client experience.

Of course, there’s an inherent danger to the timely nature of the stories, as some continue to evolve. For example, athletic wear company Lululemon is applauded for its quick response to the revelation that some of its yoga pants were see-through.

But the company later got into hot water when its chairman made careless comments that only compounded and prolonged their image problem. (Not coincidentally, he eventually stepped down from his post.)

That’s a minor issue, and Lululemon now seems to be surging. And the fact that Dietrich didn’t settle for dusting off tired old case studies keeps the book fresh and contemporary.

(In fact, that freshness also means that some of the technology and tips referenced will have a shorter shelf life, as Dietrich herself admits. Though the bigger point, about taking a thoughtful, strategic approach to marketing, is timeless.)

Plus it’s well written. Dietrich understands that a business book doesn’t have to go down like medicine. It moves briskly and is a fun read.

A Great Resource for Business Owners

If you’re a business owner, you’ll come away with tons of practical tips you can apply right away.

You might also come away feeling intimidated, thinking you can’t possibly do all this yourself. That’s good instinct talking. Listen to it and consider hiring professionals who know what they’re doing.

(No doubt Dietrich and her team would be glad to help you with that!)

The good news is, Spin Sucks will arm you with the information you need to separate the scammers and sloppy operators from the true professionals. You’ll be able to ask the right questions, talk intelligently about your marketing goals and expectations and critically weigh a potential partner’s claims.

And you can use the book as an ongoing reference so you can brush up on issues as they arise.

A Challenge to PR and Marketing Pros

Of course, Spin Sucks isn’t just for business owners. If you’re a PR pro or marketer, the book raises the bar on what you should be offering clients.

In an increasingly integrated world where the lines between PR, advertising and marketing are more blurred than ever, it’s likely that clients will be demanding more of the people charged with promoting and marketing their business.

I myself am not a digital marketing expert, so I can’t reliably judge some of the specific techniques and tactics Dietrich advocates. But on the larger points, that spin does indeed suck, as do many of its practitioners, and that a long-term, strategic approach to PR and marketing is necessary, I’m in complete agreement.

I encourage you to check it out. Spin Sucks is a comprehensive, substantive and entertaining resource for anyone ready to step up their PR and marketing game.

(I was given a free preview galley of Spin Sucks. When I finished it, I bought my own copy in paperback.)

UPDATE: If you buy this week, you get free stuff. Per Gini: “If people buy the book before Saturday, have them email me a copy of their receipt. They will receive $200 worth of free content.” Includes access to classic webinars.