After reading PR Daily’s now infamous “12 Things PR Women Can’t Live Without” article I started thinking about what it takes as a woman in the PR/Marketing industry and what I’ve learned throughout my career. Despite the fact that our field is glamorized by the media and 70 percent female, being a woman in marketing isn’t pretty. So repeat after me:
I don’t need a perfectly executed smoky eye or a flawless manicure to succeed.
The PR daily article listed some basic essentials that any person with a job could need (sticky notes, pens, a notebook) and then some shallow “necessities” that reinforced stereotypes that PR women are fighting to change.
I have to admit, I certainly believe in the “look good, feel good” mentality to a certain degree, but it shouldn’t be relied upon to do your job and do it well. Internet marketers rarely see the people they work with/for, so the menial objects listed in the article are not what we need to succeed in the industry.
So far I’ve learned that there are three things you really need:
As a working professional, I am wholly responsible for my projects, and if I fail, I have only myself to blame.
Not bad team members, not an unorganized editor, just me.
The content marketing industry and its trends are constantly changing, and I need to adjust and change along with them. Especially working for a start-up where things change daily.
I work with some awesome people that inspire me to push myself, but also make me aware that my success comes from me, and no one is going to hold my hand.
If someone comments or attacks my looks, he or she is not worth responding to.
At the end of July when Caroline Criado-Perez was campaigning for more women to be pictured on bill notes, she received over 50 abusive tweets in one hour.
Were any of these tweets directed towards her argument for female representation on currency? No.
Were any of the tweets making a legitimate argument against her position? No.
Really interesting the number of trolls who refer to my hygiene / the way I smell. Why is this?
— CarolineCriado-Perez (@CCriadoPerez) July 29, 2013
They were all sexually abusive and attacking her gender and appearance, not her stance on the matter.
At the end of the day, Criado-Perez knew these disgusting comments had no bearing on her as a person or a professional. She kept her composure and succeeded in her fight, with Jane Austen getting placed on the 10 pound note – and getting Twitter to update their abuse guidelines.
If your personal appearance is ever grounds for discrediting your professional opinion, your ideas, your experience or your abilities, then laugh and ignore it. Your appearance has nothing to do with your competency at your job, and let no one make you think otherwise.
No matter what position I have, people will assume I am male.
Working for a company where my main contact with publishers is email, I have to take extra steps to ensure that I present myself professionally online. It’s pretty embarrassing if I assume that a contact is male, because in the modern workplace there’s no reason to.
At CopyPressed, we regularly get emails through our contact form that start with “Dear Sir,” even though two women run our blog.
The extra second it takes to type “or ma’am” is the difference between a good first impression and a bad one, which is usually the difference between getting a response or an offer.
The Internet makes it easy to find someone’s gender before reaching out to them. A simple Google search for a LinkedIn or Twitter profile usually does the trick, and tools like Rapportive can help you put a name and face to a generic firstname.lastname@example.org email address.
Appearance will always play a larger factor in my career – for better or for worse — than the careers of my male counterparts.
If you were to guess whether attractive women get more interview opportunities than less attractive women, what would you say?
What about attractive men?
Did you guess that attractive people had a better chance at getting a job interview and landing a position? I did. And I was wrong.
A study by two Israeli researchers found that attractive men who include photos with their CV’s are more likely to get a job. However, attractive women who included photos with their CV’s were less likely to get a job than women who didn’t attach a photo, but had similar resumes.
Further research showed that there was no correlation between perceived intellect and beauty, leading researchers to believe that since many HR staffs are predominately female, “old-fashioned jealousy” led to discriminatory selection of candidates.
When it comes to appearance affecting your job, it’s damned if you do and damned if you don’t. It’s a safe bet to omit a photo and let your abilities and accomplishments do the talking instead.
There’s light in every dark Internet corner.
So when I first read that fateful PR Daily article, I was annoyed. I was met with a lot of the same attitude towards the industry in college that was reflected in that article. I worked hard to show my family and friends that I wasn’t going into PR because I was “good with people” or “great at planning events.” I showed them that what I was doing was worthwhile and would lead me down a good path to a fulfilling career.
As disappointing as the PR Daily article was, it spawned many ideas and subsequent articles about things that PR professionals really do need, and I found many of those articles to be extremely enlightening and motivating. I found articles about influential women to follow, blogs to keep up with, and successful companies owned and founded by women. I never would have found any of those resources if wasn’t for the original, fluffy article.
The Internet is all about building community, through the good, the bad, and the ugly, so if you find something that rubs you the wrong way, keep clicking. You’re sure to find someone who agrees with you and provides incredible information as to why. Sometimes the best part of an article is the comments because they inspire discussion on topics that the author hadn’t originally thought of or been able to cover.
These are just a few truths that I’ve learned or other women who I work with have learned. I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg. In the spirit of building community, what else needs to be added?