Ask the Expert: Gini Dietrich on Managing Your Brand's Reputation

November 5, 2015

gini dietrich

Gini Dietrich is CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc., a company specializing in emerging and social media, special events, internal and employee communication, crisis communication, and online marketing.

Gini recently published her second book, Spin Sucks: Communication and Reputation Management in the Digital Age. In this interview, Gini provides brand management advice marketers can use to establish credibility and trust among potential customers and employees alike.

Q&A with Gini Dietrich, CEO of Arment Dietrich, Inc.

LinkedIn: What message do you have for B2B marketers who do not think branding applies to them?

Gini Dietrich: This drives me crazy! People search online for ANY product or service they buy. Something like 80% of purchase decisions are made before anyone contacts you. They read content. They visit competitors. They read reviews, if available. They do as much research as they can and then narrow it down to one or two companies before they buy. This works in ANY business, not just B2C.

LinkedIn: You've done a great deal to help brands build a positive reputation. For marketers who are making a concerted effort to improve their brand's reputation, where do you recommend they start?

Gini Dietrich: Be honest. Be transparent. Be ethical. Have a moral compass. If you want a great reputation, you HAVE to do those things first. It’s always interesting when a company is taken to task publicly and people say, “Wow. They have a real PR problem on their hands.” No, they have an operational or executive or customer service problem. Until those things are fixed internally, you will never be able to improve your reputation.

If all of that is in line and you have to clean up some things from a previous executive team or previous process, the first place you should start is online. Search “I hate company name” on all of the social networks. Dig into Glassdoor and Yelp and other review sites to see what people are saying. And then get to work on responding to all of those people. Offer to chat with them. Prove that you have changed. And then create content that shows you have changed and the differences in your process. It’ll take time, but it’ll eventually shift.

LinkedIn: We've seen a blurring of lines between personal and corporate brands in the digital age. How can marketing leaders capitalize on the potential of employees' personal brands while simultaneously protecting the best interests of the corporate brand?

Gini Dietrich: So many organizations don’t have a social media policy. Start there. But don’t give it to your legal or HR team to create. Ask your marketing team to create it so employees will understand it (with a blessing from HR and legal, of course). Then educate, educate, educate. Someone on your team must stay on top of the FTC disclosures and the changes they make to social media guidelines. That person should always communicate back to anyone participating online what’s new and what they need to change.

LinkedIn: How have you been able to build a following through your Spin Sucks blog?

Gini Dietrich: Well, we just celebrated our nine year anniversary of Spin Sucks so we have the advantage of time. But I think the real magic is that we listen to our readers. We get tons of comments on the blog, which is awesome, and we always comment and engage with them there. But we also get comments privately—emails, direct messages, private messages—and on the social networks. Our number one goal is to make sure everyone gets a response from us, no matter what. People just want to be heard. They want to know if they are going to spend time with you, your content, or your business, that you genuinely care about them.

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