Tag Archive: Endangered Species Act

It’s time to petition the US Fish and Wildlife Service to add yet another new critter to the Endangered Species List.

And while we are at it, let’s not forget about designating abundant critical habitat to aid the recovery of this threatened-with-extinction species.

Another bird? Another animal? Another plant?

Nope. Instead in it is the Male-knuckledragging-kommunikashuns-pee-are-a-sourous.

How do we know that the male of the species is dying out in terms of the future of the public relations profession? All one has to do is simply open one’s eyes.

When I was working for Edelman Public Relations in San Mateo, CA, we had a staff of 134 working on a wide array of hardware, software and green/clean tech accounts. From this significantly sized team, 110 were card-carrying members of the fairer gender. Yep, there were no lines for the men’s room and it had nothing to do with physiological plumbing, just sheer numbers or in this case…the absence of numbers.


Coming north to the School of Journalism and Communication at University of Oregon in Eugene, the beat just continues unabated. The female/male split in the undergraduate level, introductory, “Principles of PR” is about 60/40 in favor of women in a class of 160 students. No alarm bells are going off when you weigh this almost perfect state of gender balance, even though males are in the minority. A trip down the hall reveals another and more telling story.

I was asked to present a PowerPoint presentation on writing quarterly earnings releases and annual report letters for publicly traded companies to an upper division class, “Strategic Public Relations and Communication.” I went into the room and was greeted by 16 students and their Ph.D instructor…I was the only representative of the male of the species…

Who the heck invited me?

After the class was over, I started to reflect on the undeniable dominance of women in the PR profession now and based upon the present trend more so in the future. Several have written about the feminization of the industry, and why shouldn’t we welcome this change? And at the same time, we should abhor that women are still getting shafted (no sexual pun intended) when it comes to pay disparity in public relations.

The Public Relations Society of America’s (PRSA) 2010 Work, Life & Gender Survey reported that the average annual income for men in public relations was about $120K. The figure for women was about $72K. In PRSA’s 2006 survey, the average annual income for men was $98,188.82; the average for women was $67,853.08. The percent and sheer numbers of women in the profession are going up, and yet the pay gap is increasing. Yep, women have a good reason to be torked.

But wait a minute. If men – rightfully or wrongly — are being paid more, why aren’t more knuckle draggers trying to enter the PR ranks?  Average six-figure salaries are nothing to be sneezed at (especially in this economy) and yet women are dominating the profession just as they have taken over real estate and local government. Education and nursing have been feminized for generations.

Do men lack empathy? Are they really that insensitive? Do we see PR as a “soft”-profession, not befitting a true macho dude?  Are women naturally better at softening images of their clients? Do tough guy personas not work any longer in the courtroom of public opinion? (Donald Trump’s commanding use of the F-bomb would suggest there is still a market for testosterone-fueled bombast, bloviation and demagoguery. How long will it take for his lounge act to get tired and boring?)


Let me also ask: Are women better at detail-oriented communications work, coordination, choreography and message development poetry and prose? Undoubtedly, we should celebrate the fact that women are voting by their sheer numbers to join the ranks of public relations professionals.

At the same time, shouldn’t a rising tide raise all boats? And shouldn’t the profession benefit from a wide array of talented individuals regardless of gender? Come on guys, it’s time once again to take the PR plunge.

Let the competition resume.




Man Bites Dog Stories?

Let’s face it; drawing media attention, particularly for positive stories, is tougher than ever.

One reason is simple: There are fewer reporters, editors and traditional media outlets. And the ones that remain are under siege by a growing roster of flacks, many who used to toil as…you guessed it…reporters and editors.

We certainly have discussed via Almost DailyBrett and a plethora of other blogs the trend toward self-publishing employing digital tools. Ditto for the growing impact of bloggers as substitutes for disappearing mainline publication/electronic media editors and reporters. Blogging, podcasting, webcasting and participating on social media sites (e.g. Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook…) represent the way we do business in the early decades of the 21st Century.

Does this mean that we abandon traditional media? There are still news holes to be filled and more often than not they are digital voids composed of ones and zeroes. Harried and worried editors and reporters still need information, so who are they going to turn to?

The obvious is they are going to rely on those sources that offer bona-fide news stories. PR professionals are being challenged in the present century just as they were previously to come up with news story ideas that more than pass the giggle test.

Here’s an intriguing thought, what about “man bites dog” stories? What about tales that are counterintuitive, lay waste to conventional wisdom and go against the grain? Here are few anecdotes.

The most celebrated case revolves around the leader of the free world. We were all told that no African-American could ever be elected president. That was the CW. On top of that there was this latent “Bradley effect,” (nothing raises my blood pressure faster…but that is the subject for another post) in which voters will behave differently in the voter booth, than what they tell pollsters, when an African-American is on the ballot. So much for the Bradley effect. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_bradley_effect

Here’s another, far-less known and virtually forgotten example of taking convention and turning it upside down. A timber association in Washington State petitioned the US Fish and Wildlife Service in 1990 to have loggers listed as “threatened” or “endangered” under the auspices of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). Isn’t the ESA about protecting cute owls, squirrels and snail darters? What’s this about people being threatened or endangered? http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19901012&slug=1097881; http://www.seattlepi.com/archives/1990/9010140060.asp

Ultimately the loggers and their families were not listed under the ESA and critical habitat was not set aside for their survival, but the story still drew considerable media attention because it went directly counter to the trend and defied convention.

It certainly did not hurt the play of the story to have a representative of the Wilderness Society accused the loggers of a “mockery of the scientific world,” and taking a “ridiculous” action and making “irresponsible” statements. Not only do reporters and editors gravitate to man bites dog stories, but they are particularly attracted to counterintuitive stories that degenerate into public urination contests. Pass the towel, please!

Closer to home, I offered my own “man bites dog” response last week to MarketWatch.com. http://www.marketwatch.com/story/eight-ways-to-stay-healthy-during-a-long-job-hunt-2010-04-22?pagenumber=1 The reporter wanted to know how my health deteriorated during my nearly one year out on the hustings. After all, doesn’t every unemployed senior communicator turn to the bottle, gain three or four inches on the waist-line or suffer from sleep deprivation?

In my particular case, my unemployment has provided me with more time than ever to get into great shape (three days per week of upper-body resistance training and three days per week of aerobics). That is not what she expected to hear, which makes the response in my very humble opinion even more interesting.

Or as Henry Kissinger reportedly said, “It has the added value of being the truth.”

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