Guys…we’re scarce, use it to your advantage

Two women touching a businessmanOk, so to address this first…maybe there is something to the whole women’s intuition thing…(touché Kate).

As many of you know, earlier this week my colleague and PRBC founding blogger Kate Ottavio posted a great article addressing the male:female ratio in our industry, noting it’s a great chance to meet a girl.

While undoubtedly true (have you seen the Male:Female ratio of the PRBC family and of our get togethers (and yes @dannybrown — it is sheer coincidence)) there is a definite chance to use this to our advantage gents.

Professionally that is (goodness people!).

One of Kate’s points mentions that “Women statistically are more verbal, speaking twice as many words as men, which can help with pitching, right (or giving you that headache about how you didn’t go to the drycleaners after work)?”   Notwithstanding my own extraordinarily long posts at Gear Grindings and here I’ve always been of the ‘two ears, one mouth to listen twice as much as you speak’ philosophy. Add into the mix (at least for me) being a researcher at heart and I’ve found all it takes is good timing and the patience to sit back and process everything that’s being said on a conference call to really show your stuff.

With all those voices going back and forth no one is digesting – take it in, process and produce a solution when everyone else around the table has quieted down (or is fixing their makeup ;) ).

Additionally if there’s anything we’ve all learned through social media in the last few years it’s that we can learn more about our audience by listening to them than by talking at them. Take that innate ability and use it to your advantage. Guys – stop talking. Listen — we’re predisposed to it anyway.

There are other advantages to being outnumbered, gentlemen. Sick at work? You’ll have a bevy of ladies with some level of maternal instinct. (And yes, if asked, you do need some fresh tea, new box of tissues, a backrub you say — that’d be grand!) [Note from Kate: sexual harassment lawsuit].   [Note from Cog: a) Don't get caught b) Have a good attorney]

One other big advantage — pitching female reporters. While the formal stats won’t back me up, I’ve run into more than my fair share of female reporters. Key tips for success (similar to those when first courting):

a) Be unexpected: As advised to a fellow PRBC-er a few months back — when cold calling a female reporter: drop your voice an extra octave, be polite, speak slowly (if you’re a NYC flack go down an extra notch on speed) and listen. It’s unexpected, shows your sensitive side and in almost any situation can do more help than harm.

b) Be considerate: When something happens to your interview because of a thing in the journalist’s life — be considerate. With male reporters it’s more often than not a leaky roof, waiting for the cable guy or something else non-essential (or if it is a medical issue they aren’t going to tell you about it). Female reporters — it’s the kids, parents, sibling or spouse. Very rarely will it be their problems. Be conciliatory without being nosy when it comes to their family and you’ll have someone who will listen to your worst pitch any day of the week (if they aren’t on deadline).

c) Remember the small things: Follow-up on the (b) issues. Ask about their vacation. Are they just back from maternity leave – ask how they found their day care since you’re looking for one yourself. Besides reestablishing the relationship and building upon it, it shows that you’re actually listening. So what if you have those details in the notes section of your Outlook contacts page — at least you took the time to jot those notes down since you knew you wouldn’t remember.

d) Be charming: If you forget something (since it seems we can’t multi-task) take the hit, don’t place the blame elsewhere and move beyond it to fixing the problem. But be nice about it, even mocking yourself if needed (“I should probably write it down this time.”)

In short, be doting, considerate, smooth, and boyishly charming. Professional helps too.

As Kate’s post, this one is, of course all (mostly) in jest.

On a more serious note — some of the best PR teams I’ve seen have combined the best elements of both worlds — a highly analytical mind with someone a bit more impulsive; a listener with a talker; a complete advocate with a devil’s advocate to provide cover fire. Are these traits always split across the gender gap — of course not. But you never know who you’re going to find on the other side of the table, so having that particular mix doesn’t hurt either. It can also make things more fun :)

And Kate — we’ll work on that walking and talking thing. I’m pretty sure we’ll be able to help you perfect it.

Now, however, if you’ll excuse me, I think I need to go hide from the PR Breakfast Club maidens as they’ll likely have my hide (and my odds are pretty bad as they severely outnumber me). Keith, CT — can you help a brother out?

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  • http://twitter.com/stina6001 Christina K

    Cog who knew you could be these things: 'doting, considerate, smooth, and boyishly charming. Professional helps too.” ;)

    I agree with most of what you just said. ( I know hell is freezing over)

    But I have another concern/question. Why do men need to be tended to when sick? Women just deal with it. ;)

  • http://twitter.com/CTMichaels CTMichaels

    I really like this post for 2 reasons -

    1. It is completely true and I have used these methods help in my success.

    2. It is completely true and I have used these methods help in my success.

  • http://twitter.com/jessisjuicy Jess Greco

    You speak English good too.

  • http://twitter.com/jessisjuicy Jess Greco

    There are no words.

  • arikhanson

    Cog:

    I've been taking advantage of this “theory” for years. And, speaking from experience, you're dead on.

    There's also just something about having the male perspective in the room at times. I used to work at a small agency with all women (who were fantastic, by the way). I think most of the time, they treated me with kid gloves (in a good way). But, I also think they valued the male opinion from time to time. We just look at the world differently (OK female PRBC'ers, don't take that the wrong way). Just as a room with too much testosterone can be major trouble, so too is a room with too much estrogen. A balance is healthy.

    On a side note, I thought it was ironic that Cog wrote a post about guys listening. Dude, look at your tweet count sometime… ;)

    @arikhanson

  • http://twitter.com/KOttavio Kate Ottavio

    sexual harassment lawsuit. enough said.

    kidding! nicely done, Cog.

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Very nice CK, very nice :)

    And true, women definitely need tending when ill in the office. They usually don't like to admit they're sick though.

    The post also started to run long, so had to self-edit (I know, what a switch).

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    See, my boyish charm has made you speechless :)

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Meh, bring it :)

    Thank you dear, it is your post that inspired it, however.

    [Considerate, smooth, charming - check, check, check ;-) ]

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Hey Arik -

    Certainly true. The fresh voice in the room helps ensure we don't get too caught up in old thinking. That it's gender-based this time just makes it more fun.

    We can also lift furniture more easily.

    Haha, yes, I am a bit twitter chatty, but take a peek at how many are replies :)

  • http://amymengel.com amymengel

    I know y'all are having fun with these two posts, but I think the gender imbalance in the PR profession is a troubling one.

    First, there's the issue that a few people raised on Kate's post that while women dominate the lower ranks of PR, many of the top posts are held by men. It is changing, but not fast enough. And women are often still penalized when they “opt out” of the workforce for a period of time to raise kids.

    Second, many collegiate PR programs are pushing 90 percent women. It was a topic of <a href= http://www.amymengel.com/2009/02/where-the-boys… of my first posts when I started blogging. Where are the guys? They're in the business school majoring in marketing. Why? Because it's viewed as a more “serious” endeavor and one that's more likely to get them a seat at the executive table.

    I have less of an issue with actual gender imbalance than I do with the portrayals and stereotypes of PR practitioners that can lead to an overall dismissal of the field as inconsequential. Unfortunately, those stereotypes must come from somewhere. If young female PR pros get a “flighty and flirty” reputation, they're not likely the ones that business partners are going to trust for strategic advice and counsel on important issues. They're going to get asked to plan parties. And we all know that PR is much more than that.

    So, now that I've been a total killjoy, I will add that it's fun to look at how gender can impact and influence professional relationships, and there certainly are situations where guys and gals can use it to their advantage. But it's important to remember that if we, as an entire profession, are going to make a Business Case for PR, then we need to develop a diverse, balanced industry and all behave in ways that don't undermine the importance of the work that we do.

    Okay, done sucking the fun out of the day. :-)

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    What a fantastic comment. Thank you Amy.

    Such an imbalance really can't serve anyone (except the guys in those offices :) ).

    One of my strangest run-ins with the male on top (sorry) attitude came when working with the internal PR team of a national organization. The point person on our end was a highly experienced and skilled woman and we were asked to present our plan to one of their execs. When we let them know this person would be doing the presenting the answer we got (paraphrased) – “Oh, you can't present, you're a woman.”

    The source of this comment — the internal PR team — composed entirely of women. I nearly drooled on the Polycom it took me so long to pick my chin up.

  • tracybb

    This beginning to sound like my post post about flirting with reporters. I definitely believe male PR folks do better with women reporters and vice versa.

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Very nice CK, very nice :)

    And true, women definitely need tending when ill in the office. They usually don't like to admit they're sick though.

    The post also started to run long, so had to self-edit (I know, what a switch).

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    See, my boyish charm has made you speechless :)

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Meh, bring it :)

    Thank you dear, it is your post that inspired it, however.

    [Considerate, smooth, charming - check, check, check ;-) ]

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    Hey Arik -

    Certainly true. The fresh voice in the room helps ensure we don't get too caught up in old thinking. That it's gender-based this time just makes it more fun.

    We can also lift furniture more easily.

    Haha, yes, I am a bit twitter chatty, but take a peek at how many are replies :)

  • http://amymengel.com amymengel

    I know y'all are having fun with these two posts, but I think the gender imbalance in the PR profession is a troubling one.

    First, there's the issue that a few people raised on Kate's post that while women dominate the lower ranks of PR, many of the top posts are held by men. It is changing, but not fast enough. And women are often still penalized when they “opt out” of the workforce for a period of time to raise kids.

    Second, many collegiate PR programs are pushing 90 percent women. It was a topic of one of my first posts when I started blogging. Where are the guys? They're in the business school majoring in marketing. Why? Because it's viewed as a more “serious” endeavor and one that's more likely to get them a seat at the executive table.

    I have less of an issue with actual gender imbalance than I do with the portrayals and stereotypes of PR practitioners that can lead to an overall dismissal of the field as inconsequential. Unfortunately, those stereotypes must come from somewhere. If young female PR pros get a “flighty and flirty” reputation, they're not likely the ones that business partners are going to trust for strategic advice and counsel on important issues. They're going to get asked to plan parties. And we all know that PR is much more than that.

    So, now that I've been a total killjoy, I will add that it's fun to look at how gender can impact and influence professional relationships, and there certainly are situations where guys and gals can use it to their advantage. But it's important to remember that if we, as an entire profession, are going to make a Business Case for PR, then we need to develop a diverse, balanced industry and all behave in ways that don't undermine the importance of the work that we do.

    Okay, done sucking the fun out of the day. :-)

  • http://prbreakfastclub.com PR Cog

    What a fantastic comment. Thank you Amy.

    Such an imbalance really can't serve anyone (except the guys in those offices :) ).

    One of my strangest run-ins with the male on top (sorry) attitude came when working with the internal PR team of a national organization. The point person on our end was a highly experienced and skilled woman and we were asked to present our plan to one of their execs. When we let them know this person would be doing the presenting the answer we got (paraphrased) – “Oh, you can't present, you're a woman.”

    The source of this comment — the internal PR team — composed entirely of women. I nearly drooled on the Polycom it took me so long to pick my chin up.

  • tracybb

    This beginning to sound like my post post about flirting with reporters. I definitely believe male PR folks do better with women reporters and vice versa.

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