Sometimes I cringe when I see a #PRGirl post or even an account solely dedicated to the term on Instagram. Are we belittling ourselves by using that term? Do we want to be seen as everything cliché that comes along with that label?
Personally, I’m not going to take serious offence at anyone that labels me a ‘PR Girl’ because I’m only 21 and still very much in the early days of my PR career. Besides that, I basically lived the most cliché PR life during my placement year in London, so who am I to argue?
Don’t get me wrong, there are quite a few PR stereotypes that grind my gears and that I would take offence over, but being called a PR Girl just isn’t one of them (at this current moment). In this post I’m going to look at the different clichés associated with PR and especially PR Girls, and what’s wrong with them, but also what’s not so bad about them.
Can you tell I’ve been writing a few uni essays recently with the ‘In this post I’m going to look at…’ This isn’t your assignment, Orlagh.
What even is a PR Girl?
One quick Google search of the above, and now I’m offended. The top search result is ‘21 Things to Know Before Dating a Girl Who Works in PR‘ – I mean, is there really that many things to be wary of?? And also, is that all we’re good for? Dating??
The second result: ‘What Exactly Does A PR Girl Do?’ – a question I found myself Googling halfway through my first year of university while enrolled on a PR course, so I’ll take that one. Third result: ‘Nightclub Promo Girls vs PR’ – a cliché I’ve come across myself quite often. No, I do not stand on the corner of Concert Square shouting about two cocktails for £6 at Soho – that’s not my kind of PR. Believe it or not, PR is not short for ‘PRomotion’.
Ok, now I’m angry. The next set of results in the first page of Google?
Things to Know When Dating A PR Girl
7 Things Guys Need to Know About Dating A PR Girl
Another 21 Things A Guy Needs to Know Before Dating A Girl Who Works in PR
Are we honestly that repellent? Is this the reason I’m still single?? I take it all back, this PR Girl phrase has got to go.
The PR Girl stereotype
The above didn’t actually help to define what exactly a PR Girl is, except maybe suggesting I apply for that Undatables show on Channel 4. From what I’ve read (in the last ten minutes), the usual PR Girl stereotype is someone that’s into her fashion and beauty, maybe a little bit dim, shallow, not much between the ears but can recite Coco Chanel’s Wikipedia page. That kind of stereotype. Oh, and she doesn’t wear anything that isn’t black.
Some of the typical PR Girls are the ones you would see with clipboard in hand telling you that your name isn’t on the list. They’re the ones at Fashion Week, always holding a glass of prosecco, #Besties with the lower-tier celebrities (should I just call them Z-Listers?) and always attending every party in town.
She’ll be the one with a Starbucks in hand every morning, even though she can’t afford to eat dinner – anything for the Instagram story. She’ll have a stack of magazines in her arm, never have any free time to do anything other than work, party and socialise. The PR Girl will know everyone and everything about everyone and everyone will also know her, and that she works in PR because her job is #Goals.
So with all of these lovely clichés that I found online, can you relate to any of them?
Am I a PR Girl?
Because I sure can. I’m into my fashion and beauty, not obsessively so but I didn’t know how much of a passion I had for beauty until I worked for a beauty company. I wouldn’t say that I’m dim or shallow (I hope) but I can sometimes say or do pretty stupid things. I may not be able to recite Coco Chanel’s Wikipedia page but I probably can for Niall from One Direction if that’s any consolation? As for my wardrobe, it’s 90% full of black clothing so that one I can definitely relate to.
This second part is pretty embarrassing, because yes I was usually the one with the clipboard, been to Fashion Week and my Instagram story was basically sponsored by prosecco. However, I was not friends with any celebrities. I did speak to Matt Cardle for five minutes. Does that count? I know what you’re all thinking – he won The X Factor a few years ago, God you need to read up on your pop culture knowledge. And I like a party. Maybe a little too much at the moment.
We don’t even have to analyse that last paragraph up there because it couldn’t be any more ‘me’ if I had sourced the info from my own head.
So, am I a PR Girl? It would seem like it, wouldn’t it?
What’s really wrong with referring to myself as a PR Girl?
Firstly, it will probably earn me a poor salary in comparison to my PR Boy counterpart. The PR Girl is usually the assistant organising the stock cupboard and running around town looking for samples. Do you really think there is a boy out there with a degree, fresh from university doing the same job or for the same salary? If there is, I’d like to meet him.
I may be a female and work in the PR industry, but that doesn’t mean my end goal is to be Samantha Jones or Edina Monsoon. Take a look at my #GirlBossMonday interview series. I wouldn’t refer to any of these women as PR Girls, but who knows, they might take no offence at the label. These women are running their own businesses, agencies and managing large teams of people and killing it in the PR world. Maybe they started out as a typical PR Girl, but it’s not what I’d call them today.
Another problem with the PR Girl is the generalisation that comes with it. When you think PR Girl, you think of a young, attractive, white, British (or in my case, Irish) girl that comes from a working or middle-class background. In my opinion, we’re a privileged bunch. The 2016 PR Census showed us that 91% of PR practitioners in the UK were white. 83% of them British, and 64% female. This isn’t representative of the world we live in. Where is the diversity? Are we all just PR Girls living in a PR Girl bubble?! Read this article by Amy Sutton for more insight.
I don’t want to be a PR Girl anymore
I found the below Fashion PR Girl Weekly Look-book, which noted that every day must have a new ‘look’. The only advice I would have to anyone who is planning on gaining work experience in fashion PR, is to completely avoid the below.
Think practical, not too expensive and comfortable. You probably won’t be at your desk for more than five minutes, be running all over town (flat shoes would be a requirement for myself) and most likely getting your hands (and clothes) dirty, so you don’t want to ruin that Armani suit you bought to fit in with the clothes on the rack.
With every article I read, image I come across or list of tips on how to be the best PR Girl possible, I find myself losing faith in the future of PR. Take this quote from 5 Tips to Survive The PR Girl Lifestyle: “There’s almost no work-life balance in PR and the salary is like working in McDonalds. But the shoesss “ – Holly Anna Scarsella.
Ah yes, the shoes will definitely pay my rent and put food on the table. Let us all take a moment to remember Carrie Bradshaw was a fictional character, and could not possibly today, live in her studio Manhattan apartment on a freelance journalist salary with her addiction to designer fashion and Cosmopolitans.
But I’m still a PR Girl
You know what? I absolutely adored the cliché PR Girl life that I lived during my placement year. It was everything I had aspired my PR life to look like. I would usually be one of those girls that read the above articles like ‘How to Survive Fashion PR’ and actually looked forward to the day where I would be in the office hours before everyone else and hours after they had left. I couldn’t wait to have my head stuck in magazines and be running from pillar-to-post, never seeing the end of my to-do list. It was exciting, it thrilled me and the perks that came with it made me love it even more.
But I won’t be the PR Girl forever. I’ll grow up. I won’t want to spend my evenings at parties after work or be constantly running on four hours sleep. But 21 year old me from a small town in Northern Ireland? I want to be the most cliché PR Girl that I can for the next few years and enjoy myself while taking my career to the next level.
Is it shallow of me to want to be at Fashion Week, movie premieres or launch parties? Maybe. But if I work my butt off in my job, what’s wrong with being able to have a little fun?
But I’m not a #PRGirl. I’m just a girl that loves and works in PR.