TV’s PR beauty myth


This is an article by Charlotte Giver.
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Charlotte Giver

Who is your favourite character in Sex and the City? Many would say Carrie Bradshaw but recently I have heard a lot of people referring to Samantha Jones. Chocker? Yes!

You might remember her as the blonde publicist with a no-nonsense attitude who likes designer bags as much as she likes dating (yes, let’s just call it that). SATC Samantha is not the only character that today’s pop culture has created to portray public relations.

So, when you are trying to explain to your family, friends and boyfriend/girlfriend what you do, don’t blame them if they are thinking about Samantha Jones or the bitchy Kelly Cutrone in the reality show The City. Needless to say, media portrayals have succeeded in stereotyping women in fashion PR into one category, alas: bitchy, ignorant, intimidating women who like designer brands and to plan and attend glamorous events.

But wait, that is not you. You are not ignorant and ice-cold. You like to work hard, write press materials, meet people from different countries and cultures, create events and social media. Immediately you start to defend yourself and the PR industry, am I right?

Being a PR student, I know that a degree in public relations is like a marketing and journalism degree combined. In other words, you will graduate to be a smart kid, interested in so much more than shoes and the latest designers.

However, people like to talk. It is as simple as that and just as DKNY PR girl wrote on her tumblr ‘people love to group other people in buckets.’

But for someone who is not in PR, they simply don’t know any better than believing in the outdated cliché that they have followed on TV shows such as The Hills, The Spin Crowd and Entourage.

Grown-up mean girls

Meredith Lepore recently published an article on the subject in The Grindstone, where she simply asked ‘are PR girls just grown up mean girls?’ The article immediately got a lot of attention in the PR world and many commentators where quick to point out that it is unfair that hard working men are being called go-getters while hard working women are called ‘bitches’.

The false impression of fashion PR and what it takes to be successful in the industry is dangerous. From own experience, working in fashion PR, you will be working with
fun, outgoing, positive and smart people. I would say that if you don’t have a warm and positive attitude, you will be less likely to get the job.

If you step into the industry acting like a ‘bitch’, people will get annoyed. I can assure you of that. After all, Public Relations is all about relationships, whether it is financial or fashion PR. Although a client wants a PR firm tough enough to handle their account, having a tough approach does not mean having a bad attitude (no one wants a relationship with a Debbie Downer). Nor do you need a bad or nonchalant attitude to stay ahead of competition.

I’d say: just don’t let anyone take advantage of you (don’t leak any information about your client to competitors), stay ahead of the game, get press, work hard, stay on top of social media, smile and make your clients happy.

So before you are applying for a job in Fashion PR, stop believing in the outdated cliché you see on TV because no one wants to be that movie.

You can follow Charlotte on: http://yourcoffeebreak.tumblr.com/

Comments

  1. Although media portrayals do play a role in influencing how people outside of the PR field view female practitioners, it’s also interesting to see how these women view themselves and others in their field.

    Gender stereotypes in PR have been examined in a number of studies including one by Frohlich and Peters in 2007 (http://bit.ly/GzTSoZ). They show how the “PR bunny” concept has evolved from a more positive view that women are natural communicators. It is assumed that women possess the sensitivity and tendency towards empathy that men do not have when maintaining relationships with clients. However, when it comes to management, women’s emotions are seen as an indicator of managerial incompetence.

    Interestingly enough, many female practitioners highlight their own professionalism while applying these stereotypes to other women. Another striking finding of the study was that areas like fashion or lifestyle were seen to have more “real” PR bunnies than areas like technology. That is, fashion and lifestyle PR women were less likely to be competent and professional.

    On the other hand, “There is also the opinion that the behavior of a typical “PR bunny,” the use of “women’s natural weapons” . . . might well be a legitimate and subtle strategy to outwit male dominance”. I would suggest that the attitudes and beliefs of some female practitioners help to perpetuate the stereotypes you mentioned.

Trackbacks

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  4. […] to reason that TV’s depiction of a female-exclusive PR environment would also center on impossibly good looks, but in reality, PR is not all about appearances. There’s no beauty requirement to enter the […]

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