I find it ironic that in an industry created to help manage image and reputation, the reputation of a majority of its workforce is inaccurate. I know I sound like a downer, but let me explain: I think it’s time young women in PR get a rebrand of their own, one that reflects what it takes to be successful in our business today versus an outdated cliché.
Pop culture is chock full of stereotypes of women in PR. All you have to do is tune in to E!, HBO, or TBS to see Lizzy Grubman-style “power girls” wield control at the doors of parties and argue about logos on step and repeats in the Hamptons. Then there is the slightly more actualized version we see from Samantha Jones in Sex and the City — a character who feeds on the power of bold-face names and designer handbags. Another portrayal? A slightly less offensive but marginalized Shauna Roberts played by Debbi Mazar on Entourage. Always yapping on, and always clicking away in high heels. Never getting a seat at the table with the “boys” during negotiations or Vanity Fair interviews.
The danger of these portrayals is that, as we all know too well in our business, media not only reflects popular opinion but it also shapes it. While sensationalized images of women living in “spin city” might be more entertaining to watch, the danger lies in the fact that they influence and can shape popular opinion and portray a false impression of our business and what it takes for a young woman to be successful in it.
I continue to have the pleasure of working with women of all ages and styles in our industry, and I would say the “PR girls” that rule today are more likely to worship hashtags than shoes. They are more likely to be building relationships with people online than telling them they should wait on line if they aren’t on a VIP list. They have impressive educations and an understanding of culture and current events — beyond Page Six.
Now if one more guy asks me to introduce him to any cute “PR girls,” I might scream. Well, that’s not entirely true — I still might set him up with one, but you better believe it will be over Twitter.
Adrianna Giuliani is SVP of creative and strategic planning at DeVries. Follow her on Twitter at @adriannagiuls.