Ok, 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?