Our Pink pRofession

      2 Comments on Our Pink pRofession

When I attended my first Public Relations Society of America meeting 30 years ago, just four out of 40 attendees (including my boss) were women.  Go to a meeting similar today and the gender ratios have flipped.  When you attend Hofstra’s PRSSA (Public Relations Student Society of America) meetings or any PR class, it’s the same: a very high percentage of female versus male students.

Ann Friedman

Ann Friedman

This week, in a nymag.com article titled, “Why Do We Treat PR Like a Pink Ghetto?” reporter Ann Friedman writes that “73 to 85 percent of PR professionals are women,” and goes on to lament, “On a New York Observer  list of fictional publicists in pop culture, every notable character since the mid-’80s is a woman — typically sharp-tongued but not supersmart.”

Friedman also notes that 80 percent of upper management PR positions are held by men. “It’s women, often young women, who are likely to be doing the grunt work of sending emails and writing tweets and cold-calling contacts,” she writes.  In her article, Friedman correctly makes other cogent points about our respective professions, and questions whether journalists are judging these young professional women fairly.

“(They do) the very work that journalists, and the rest of us, are likely to see as fluffy,” she adds, “Even when women are doing promotional work at higher levels, they still struggle for respect.”  She says in many cases, the lack of respect comes from misconceptions about the PR profession, and reporters’ resistance to the idea of promoting anyone.

Friedman writes that promotion and even the necessary self-promotion are core professional dilemmas for women publicists.  “You’d think that in the social-media era, the rest of us would be able to relate… Perhaps it’s time for us all to recognize that walking it isn’t easy,” she wisely notes.

So how do PR women–and men–earn the respect they so highly deserve?  They do it by being reliable and honest resources to journalists and colleagues.  Today’s PR profession is indeed more pink than blue, and helpfulness and transparency are the keys to building respect.  Your thoughts?

2 thoughts on “Our Pink pRofession

  1. Bert Cunningham

    I’m always somewhat suspect of these kinds of articles. Mostly, because the workplace has changed significantly in the last four decades. So has the PR profession; just think of its expanded scope within the last decade. But an article that looks at PR or any profession in isolation fails to put in context how others have changed too, e.g., real estate, law, and accounting. Without that context it’s like looking at the moon through the wrong end of a telescope. I’ve worked with and for some very talented women who were in a variety of professions, which included PR. I didn’t see either pink or blue. I saw talent and a willingness to do the job right, which is what earned my respect. Hopefully, the day will come soon when in PR or any profession pink or blue will no longer come into view.

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