Tag Archive: UO School of Journalism and Communication

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.




It was one of the most sobering stories that I have read in many, many moons.

Alana Semuels in her LA Times piece, “America Out of Work” argues that near double-digit unemployment directly impacting 14.9 million could become a long-standing condition in America. http://articles.latimes.com/2010/sep/05/business/la-fi-america-unemployment-mainbar-20100905

“This is the new reality,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics. “In the past decade we’ve gone from the best labor market in our economic history to arguably one of the worst. It’s going to take years, if not decades, to completely recover from the fallout.”

The numbers are stark: To get the national unemployment rate back to 5%, where it was before the downturn, would require the economy to generate about 17 million jobs — or about 285,000 a month for five straight years — according to Heidi Shierholz, a labor economist at the Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

“To appreciate the enormity of that employment hole, consider that U.S. employers have shed 283,000 jobs since May,” Semuels wrote in early September.

Before we tie a boulder around our collective waists, clutching our precious Led Zeppelin catalog to our chests, and throwing ourselves off a bridge, keep in mind that it was exactly one decade ago that forecasters under the influence of the Internet bubble were virtually guaranteeing the Dow Jones would hit 27,000. This past Friday, the NYSE surged 197 points to 10,860. So much for 27,000 at least any time soon.

What intrigues this commentator as I begin today my pursuit of a master’s degree in “Communication and Society” at the University of Oregon School of Journalism and Communication is the pronounced difference in nomenclature between Eugene and the Silicon Valley.

Naturally I expected differences between the two cultures even though both are populated by very talented and highly educated people. In Eugene, I have heard in my short time substantial dialogue about “sustainability” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sustainability, “gender equality,” “public options,” “corporate social responsibility” and “marriage issues.” Nothing wrong with any of that.

During my 15 years in Silicon Valley particularly following the dot.com bust and right up to the present deep recession, the discussion focused on “fiduciary responsibility,” “expense controls,” “promoting profitability,” “driving revenues,” “expanding gross margin,” “ROI (Return on Investment)” and simply “survival.”

A question that I am going to personally explore in depth during the course of the next two years is whether our universities are preparing students to successfully transition from the priorities of the university campus to the mandates of the corporate world.

Semuels writes about the tremendous challenge that grads face, particularly in today’s economy: “But young workers are suffering too. In August, the unemployment rate for workers 16 to 24 was 18.1%.

“Research has shown that economic downturns can stunt the prospects of these new entrants to the job market for a decade or longer. Some college graduates unable to find jobs in their chosen fields are forced to trade down to lower-skilled, often temporary work. That translates into puny wages, missed opportunities and a slower climb up the career ladder.”

This is not a great time to be an out-of-work adult over the half-century mark, but it is also an incredibly challenging time for the graduating classes of the next few years. What the second group has as an advantage over the first is simply time and life expectancy. The real question is whether they are being properly prepared for the challenges of a rough economy, one that appears to be with us for years, if not (gasp) decades, to come.

%d bloggers like this: