Two weeks ago, a few news outlets covered a story regarding dating ‘PR girls’ and research conducted by drink brand, Stella Artois. I’m more of a Coors Light girl myself, but the response to the articles wasn’t pleasant to say the least. The ‘research’ graced the pages of the Daily Mail and The S*n and was angrily received on Twitter as it claimed PR girls were most likely to stand men up on a date.
What’s wrong with a PR girl?
And in particular, PR girls from Southampton.
It was mostly females working in PR that were most upset by the articles and research conducted by Stella Artois. Most questioned why the drinks company even ran the survey. What does being stood up on dates have to do with drinking lager? If the newspapers had actually reported on what the overall aim of the campaign was, then it would have made better sense. Instead, the papers made Stella Artois look like a bitter brand of men that still hold grudges from dating PR Girls from their Southampton university days.
If anything, a stereotypical ‘PR Girl’ could probably drink any Stella Artois loving ‘lad’ under the table.
I mean first of all it’s an awful story based on nonsense doing nothing for Stella, second of all, did the clocks go back to the 90s?!
— Alice Brown (@alicebrownnow) October 30, 2018
Not to go all Piers Morgan on you, but why is it when referring to females working in the PR industry, they are referred to as ‘PR girls’ and not ‘women’ or PR ‘professionals’? Isn’t it a little belittling to call us ‘girls’? Looking back, I probably lived the most cliché ‘PR Girl’ life in London, attending amazing parties, drinking tons of prosecco and working with fashion magazines. And if I’m being totally honest, the cliché ‘PR Girl’ lifestyle was what attracted me to working in PR in the first place. I’ll be going all-in on the cliché ‘PR Girl’ stereotype in a future blog post.
The press release
The PR agency representing Stella Artois; 3 Monkeys Zeno, that released the press release, claimed the information was misconstrued and didn’t specify gender or even dating. According to PR Week, who contacted the PR agency, the research is actually part of a wider campaign to “encourage people to make time for life’s simple pleasures, such as meeting up with friends for a meal and a drink”.
Here is a quote from the beginning of the original press release: “The research found that millennial women living in Southampton and working in marketing are the most likely to cancel on friends and family.” From the press release, it states that women working in marketing are most likely to cancel on friends and family. Where is the ‘women working in PR’? Where is the ‘cancel dates’? I guess it wouldn’t be newsworthy to say that females working in marketing cancel coffee dates with their gal pals now, would it?
However, scroll to the end of the press release and you’ve hit the jackpot: “And if you have friends working in marketing, advertising or PR, prepare to get stood up, with 87% cancelling arrangements.” Yes, it now states ‘PR‘ and the words ‘stood up‘ but it doesn’t refer to dating. It also doesn’t specifically say ‘females’.
When sending press releases, can we control what the newspapers print? Or what they take from them? Press releases should contain all the information that PRs want journalists to include in their news story, that’s a given. What it shouldn’t include, is information that could twist the entire article and anything that shouldn’t make the news.
One of the drawbacks on written communication, such as press releases, is that we cannot control the way in which the reader interprets the text. Perhaps the art of talking over the telephone should not be considered ‘dead’, but realistically, how many journalists take a PR’s phone call to discuss a press release? Not that many.
Looking closely at the articles, the headlines are more click-bait than anything as the body of the articles are 60 words at most. The journalists (who were (oddly) not named) probably knew that their headline would create a stir among PR professionals and even provide negative backlash for the brand in question; Stella Artois. In their case, job well done. The story went viral for a few days and got everyone talking about Stella Artois. Yet for the PR agency representing the drinks brand, it probably wasn’t the response they had envisioned.
I recently learnt that Stella Artois had a reputation in the UK of being a ‘wife beater’ beer due to the high percentage of alcohol in each drink. The brand have been trying for the past number of years to turn this reputation around and create the image of being an ‘upmarket’ beer. Have these recent news articles helped the brand? Most likely not.
Should work take over our social life?
The main objective behind the research conducted was to show how much of us choose work over social events. We work too hard and too long. Especially people in Southampton, apparently.
I don’t know what it is about millennials, but a lot of us feel guilty for leaving work on time. I know I did. You don’t want to be seen as that person that isn’t at her desk at 5.01pm. You want to appear to be hard working and willing to stay that little bit longer than others. But there is no competition for who stays the longest after closing and should your managers be encouraging that?
I used to be afraid to book gym classes at 5.30pm in case I didn’t make it on time when I finished at 5pm and the gym was 100 yards from my office. But when I did book onto them, it encouraged me to get my work done and leave on time. And I always felt better for it.
There are only 24 hours in a day. Eight of those we spend sleeping (usually five for me), eight of those spent at work, maybe one or two spent commuting and that only leaves six hours free time. These remaining hours are usually spent eating, exercising, winding down from the day at work or socialising. But when you extend your working hours and want to fit in the gym, sleeping and time for yourself – when can you socialise?
I love the idea of a four day week – two days really isn’t long enough for a weekend. My parents both work four days each week, extending their hours on the four days that they do work to make up for the lost hours on their day off and it really works for them. They both start earlier in the mornings and finish at their usual time. I think more workplaces should offer something like this as an extra day off could help a lot with productivity and enable employees to spend more time on their personal lives.
So, should you date a girl that works in PR?