Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Technorati Family Feud: Survey Says!

Technorati released its State of the Blogosphere for 2008. Being a survey of 1000 bloggers, a rather small sample, it poses more questions than 'facts' for me.

Let's start with gender.

The survey says more males are blogging.


And more men describe their blogs as professional, "about your industry and profession but not in an official capacity for your company"; while more women describe their blogs as personal, "about topics of personal interest not associated with your work."

As this matter of definition is purely subjective, I can't help but wonder about each gender's own bias here.

I did not see any information regarding the gender split in corporate blogging.

While women are more likely to seek to monetize their blogs, it seems they invest 50% less money in their blogs and make 50% less money in return.

Global Bloggers by Gender

Demographics Female
(N=438)
Male
(N=852)
Personal Blog 83% 76%
Professional Blog 38% 50%
Median Annual Investment $30 $60
Median Annual Revenue $100 $200
% Blogs with advertising 53% 54%
Sell Through a Blog ad Network* 16% 7%
Have Affiliate ads* 41% 32%
Have Contextual ads* 61% 73%
That ROI is something to think of when keeping things on-the-cheap ~ and far more informative than most of what is discussed in Slate's coverage of this Technorati survey, Blogging for Dollars: How do bloggers make money?. (That article is really a more theoretical conversation on popularity ~ which does affect ad revenues, but we'll get back to that later.)

However, women also stated they had benefited in other ways from blogging, with 9% more saying they had converted business leads from their blog.



Interestingly, women are said to have participated in more traditional blog networking (blogrolls, linking to other blogs, etc.) than men ~ including producing more content for other blogs. No number was given, but it makes me wonder about this in terms of blog investment...

Writing may be "free", but the sweat equity isn't noted in the discussion & in fact seems to have little payoff in terms of annual revenue. However, this sort of promotional writing could account for the conversion of business leads. I'd love more information on that area.

As far as topics go, Technorati calls them "diverse."
Blogging topics are diverse

Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. “Other” blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.

There were some global differences. Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.

You probably see what I see ~ an absence of "sex" as a topic.


It appears that Technorati did not include "sex" (or "adult" or "mature") as a topic in their survey; I'd gather that with those choices many sex bloggers would identify their blogs as "Personal/Lifestyle" blogs ~ or use the "other" category.

"Sex" is still not listed as a response in the "other" category. I have no idea if Technorati opted not to include "sex bloggers", if they edited/censored such responses when they published their findings, or if there were too few "sex" responses to qualify for a mention. Those surveyed may consider their blogging part of another category. For example, sex workers may state "business", authors "books", and sex positive feminists who discuss sex regularly might classify their blogs as "political" or "media/journalism" just as others who are not sex positive might (may also include "religion" as well).

Or perhaps survey respondents with sex blogs who noticed the "sex" option missing felt stating "sex" would mean they'd be excluded from the survey data.

The omitted options for "sex" and the lack of stated identification as "a sex blogger" does make me question the survey responses. As sexuality is just part of a human being's existence, I wouldn't throw the survey out completely; just keep the omissions in mind when reading & digesting.

Which poses more questions...

For instance, as the most popular sex bloggers are, collectively, female (no doubt due to photos, descriptions of personal actions etc., which draw many male readers), what does the possibility of censoring/ignoring sex bloggers mean for the simple "more men are blogging" data? Does this account for the "more females have personal blogs" finding?

I don't know; I'm still mulling it all over.

In terms of privacy, only 1/3 stated a concern for their privacy; I believe this would likely be much higher among sex bloggers.:
The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.
And, I find the connection between "openly exposing identities" and "better known" murky. I'm certainly better known in both my personal and professional life; but the name on my birth certificate, my legal name, is neither Gracie Passette nor The Marketing Whore.


Of those concerned about exposing their identities on their blogs, 36% said "other" ~ which included, "I've chosen to blog as a character." Maybe those with pen names, online identities, whathaveyou, answered the privacy/popularity questions from the point of view of being a character?

Now onto popularity...
Technorati 100, Next 500, and Next 5000 comparisons

We analyzed the Technorati index data to see whether higher-authority bloggers behaved differently from other bloggers.

Posting by Technorati Authority
Group Average Authority Avg Days Posting
(June 2008)
Avg Monthly Posts
(June 2008)
Top 100 6,084 23 310
Next 500 1,551 20 125
Next 5000 439 13 25

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority. The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.

What's missing from the discussion here are contextual issues such as monetization &/or business conversions and intent of the blog. Without knowing those variables, how can we call a blog successful?



There sure seems to be a connection between a blog's popularity and ad dollars, but this begs several questions...

1) If a Technorati Top 100 blogger is posting 10 or more times a day, with all the research & writing that implies, are the ad sales fair compensation for the number of hours a blogger works?

2) Are readers satisfied with such a saturation of posts? Lots of eyeballs do not automatically grant things such as loyalty & trust, nor translate into company endorsements & branding.

3) Are advertisers happy with their conversion &/or branding at these sites? Customer & potential customer impressions of the company /product/service are more important than number of ad impressions.

If all three are not satisfied the old "blog bubble" (at least as far as a business model) bursts.

For more anecdotal & theoretical conversations about this, I again refer you to Slate's piece.

Other tips included in Technorati's survey results: Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to use tags in their posts, and they use the "news" tag more than two times as much as the next 500, and 19 times as much as the next 5000. (And, of course, their list of top tags for June does not include anything sexual.)

As for the results regarding branding in the blogosphere, there's a lot of chatter about how important bloggers think blogs and other bloggers are. I'm not saying I disagree with these findings, just that business might want to keep in mind that people within the group often are rather high on the group; your results may vary.

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Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sex 2.0

Cory Silverberg, About.com's Guide to Sexuality, posted Conference Explores the Intersection of Feminism, Social Media, and Sexuality:
There are so few safe public spaces for people to explore, challenge, and share their thinking about sexuality that whenever I hear about a new conference giving people a chance to come together and talk about sex my heart lightens a little bit. Sex 2.0 is a one day event in Atlanta in April, focusing on the “intersection of social media, feminism, and sexuality.” I virtually sat down with organizer Amber Rhea to find out more about Sex 2.0 and what attendees can expect.
There's still time to get to Sex 2.0, so if you can, do.

Amber's promised a post event wrap-up ~ which I am looking forward to nearly as much as if I could attend.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Online Sex Tricks & Treats

In Compartmentalize, or you'll get 20 lashes! (unless you're into that sort of thing) the always wonderful Amber Rhea talks about why 'sex' is really a dirty word online, exposing (some of the many) tricks deployed against any honest discourse regarding intercourse. Especially if you are a woman.

I know I've talked about this before ~ and no doubt shall again & again; but now you get to hear about it from someone else (that's your treat).

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Friday, December 14, 2007

Misogyny King

Have you seen the latest Burger King commercial?



Note the two 'real people' at the end... I paraphrase, "If they don't have the Whopper, Burger King might as well be Burger Queen."

Yeah, nice misogynistic ad, BK.

'Cuz the worst way to denigrate someone is to call them a woman.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Adult Industry Quote Of The Day

"Porn, that most graphic of genres, is nevertheless responsible for the wholesale obfuscation of several terms, especially what it means to be a MILF in this country. Let's say one is an expectant father and wants to know what sex will be like after the post-partum depression wears off. He buys a MILF movie from online porn merchant Gamelink only to discover that the "MILF" is not a mom at all -- she's merely 29."

~ Gram Ponante ~ (NWS)

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Friday, October 26, 2007

The Marketing Whore on Dominance Humping, Tact and Grace(ie)

One of the things I'm known for is being nice. Well, I'm also known for being opinionated and a former escort too. But most folks who know me, have worked with me, will tell you I'm nice ~ in that patient and tolerant way (which has led me into giving away lots of help and advice for free in many arenas). But sometimes...

Oh, sometimes, I just don't understand how people can be so rude. I can understand and accept ignorance. Ditto for a difference of opinion. But rudeness?

The example I'm about to share will not name names ~ not out of respect but because I don't want to give them any attention. They do not deserve it.

And while I'm on the subject of 'outing' people, or addressing the concerns of people's feelings, let me say that I'm not worried that they will visit here and notice themselves in the example ~ because people like this never see themselves in the bad examples or as the ones needing the corrections. In all my years of working with people this is the case. Meanwhile, those who would be mortified to make such errors ~ those who never do such things because they are people filled with common sense and decency ~ these kind-hearted people always fear these things are about them. Please don't flood my inbox with apologies or concerns; if you were the person who did what I'm about to describe, you'd already know of my displeasure. So no worries for those of you reading here.

Now, on to today's lesson.

As most of you know, my site Sex-Kitten.Net (NWS) has the Sex-Kitten Feed (NWS), which is a way to promote our friends and associates by helping to broadcast their blog's RSS feed (NWS). (The feed is featured on the home page of the site, on other blogs in the feed & with it's own page.) When persons submit their site and feed for such promotion, I always check to see that A) the feed is working properly and 2) that they have linked back (to either the feed itself or the main site). If they have errors or have not reciprocated with a link, I contact them.

Recently I had to contact several folks to tell them that I would activate their feed once they linked back and then contacted me to let me know they had done so. Usually one of two things happen: they apologize for the oversight and correct it, or they ignore the emails (and I delete the submission). But this week I had one of the rare fellows who reacts rudely.

His first response was to tell me to go ahead and drop his submission because he "never got a single referral from us". I calmly wrote back that of course he hadn't ~ due to no recip, he had never been activated. I'd be happy to remove his submission if he wished, but thought he should know why he'd never received any traffic.

At this point I expected an 'ah-ha' moment, followed by him placing the link and emailing to telling me so. Maybe even with an apology for not understanding... But no.

Instead I receive an email asking demanding me for my site stats. "How many unique visitors do you get per day?"

Now folks, there are several problems with this response.

First of all, asking a webmaster for their blog stats is rather like asking a person how much they make a year. Sure, some might not be offended; some might even give you the answer. But many people, in either situation, will be greatly offended. Generally, these matters are considered none of your business. So why risk offending anyone?

If you think that I owe this person my stats because we're doing business together, remember this: the SK feed is free. He's not paying ~ no one's paying ~ for this service; it's not advertising. I, the person offering the service, isn't asking him (or anyone) about their site traffic (or pagerank or anything). For him to go there is rather like your brother-in-law asking you what your salary is or how much your home cost. It's inappropriate.

Secondly, if this man feels he is owed this info in order to evaluate the opportunity, or if he thinks this sort of questioning shows that he is Mr Serious Internet Businessman, then he needs to get a clue ~ and some tact.

He, you, I ~ anyone, can do some simple research to get an idea of traffic on any website. It's not rocket science.

If he doesn't know how to do this, or is too lazy to do it and expects me to tell him, or if he has done his homework and is trying to 'test me' for my honesty and credibility, well, I'm completely unimpressed. And I'm not playing.

His inability to employ good old fashioned tact and common sense leaves me cold.

The lesson here is that when you approach someone, including to take advantage of their opportunity, mind your manners. Don't ask questions which are none of your business. And if you should think it is your business, proceed politely. Don't pose questions as demands.

In fact, after some research of my own on this man, his sites and business practices, I'm of the impression that this man was dominance humping. He read my polite, and perhaps somewhat girly closing (typically I sign-off all my emails, business and personal, "with much affection, Gracie"), and concluded that I don't know what I'm doing. He assumed that he could intimidate me with a hard-boiled-business-numbers response to make me sit back (with my pretty head spinning from all that thinky math!) and take notice of his manly knowledge so that he could negotiate some other situation for himself. (As in I'd really really want his link to 'me' and be willing to give him additional promotions &/or advertising to get it.) But all I noticed was his bad manners and lack of respect.

I had the offer, the opportunity; I make the rules. In this case, I was offering to promote his site for free and all I asked for in return was a link. Not only is this a nominal 'price' it's a normal one. If he didn't like the rules, then he can take a pass on the opportunity. No one is forcing him to do this. For him to mistake kindness and the patience to continue to explain how the opportunity works for a chance to negotiate terms, or worse, some weakness on part, is a huge mistake.

I'm not paranoid about the dominance humping; I run into this quite often. And I'm betting you other ladies do too.

Gender, as in femaleness, combined with tolerance and understanding is seen as weak and unintelligent. Ask any mommy blogger if advertisers try to undermine their credibility and the value of their blog ~ to get cheaper advertising. (If you and your blog were so crappy, why would they want to advertise there?) But in the adult industry it's even worse. We're just dumb girls who whore ourselves and our sites on dumb luck and boobs. (I guess they think we are what we sell.)

Since I don't expect yet another blog post on gender issues to affect any real changes by the men who practice dominance humping, the lesson here is really for the women.

Don't let dominance humping (from men or women) undermine your actions. Know your business and make your rules. Don't let them negotiate the non-negotiable.

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Friday, October 12, 2007

The Stripper's Sales Secret

From Flaunting your fertility makes for big tips. The showgirl's guide to maximizing income:
if you're a woman in any service-industry job looking to maximize your tips, Miller suggests scheduling more shifts for the phase right before ovulation: "It might help to know about this so that you can exploit these effects."
Fascinating.

Also makes me wonder why they did this study...

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Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Pay In Pornos

Mithras Invicti, at Gloria Brame's blog, writes of the wage issue in porn:
Which means that female wages have to be higher in order to attract the steady stream of new actresses to the business. The downside for a female performer is that the odds are not high she will have a long career, as consumers no longer find her 300th appearance entertaining. The male performer, on the other hand, being the "anonymous meat puppet", can work so long as he can get it up and come when told to. Also, since the male actor isn't concerned about overexposure, he can work in a greater number of videos per year and end up making the same amount overall as the female performers.
I'm inclined to agree ~ with one caveat: That we remember the growing areas of gay porn and porn for hetero women. In these cases, men are the stars. And in the case of porn for (hetero) couples, men are co-stars. So as these markets increase, the pay for men should increase.

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Friday, July 20, 2007

Today's Word: Evolve

I love the Evolve campaign by Trojan. Love, love, LOVE it.

In the commerical, male pigs hit on women, striking out until one decides to be prepared for safe sex, getting a Trojan, and then becomes human.



I love it because it's relateable. I love it because, as a woman, it's grand to see the message that women aren't assumed to be the party responsible for safe sex &/or birth control. (It's so annoying to live in a world where men are allowed to be sexually aggressive but leave the consequences to the women.) The Evolve ad depicts men who aren't prepared for safe sex to as pigs and juxtaposes that image with condoms, the responsible behavior.

All this means I love it as a marketer.

Interestingly, Trojan, isn't spoken and even the logo appears only briefly on the bathroom's vending machine and at the end. Jim Daniels, vp of marketing, said the company was focusing less on growing market share than growing the market. I think the commerical serves the intent and the brand well, very well, indeed.

However, both CBS and FOX rejected Evolve ads by Trojan. In its rejection CBS wrote, "while we understand and appreciate the humor of this creative, we do not find it appropriate for our network even with late-night-only restrictions."

"It's so hypocritical for any network in this culture to go all puritanical on the subject of condom use when their programming is so salacious," said Mark Crispin Miller, a media critic who teaches at New York University. "I mean, let's get real here. Fox and CBS and all of them are in the business of nonstop soft porn, but God forbid we should use a condom in the pursuit of sexual pleasure."

Amen.

This points to the current problem those of us in adult marketing face every day.

"We always find it funny that you can use sex to sell jewelry and cars, but you can't use sex to sell condoms," said Carol Carrozza, vice president of marketing for Ansell Healthcare, which makes LifeStyles condoms. "When you're marketing condoms, something even remotely suggestive gets an overly analytical eye when it's going before networks' review boards."

Why is it unacceptable to be so damn honest? Honest about your product; honest about human needs. It's stupefying. Why doesn't business evolve and get their heads out of their behinds?

It's like we're the women and the folks who make decisions like CBS and FOX are the pigs.


The good news is that the commercial will run on ABC, NBC and nine cable networks, and print ads will appear in 11 magazines as well as on on seven Web sites. (Feel free to write emails and letters of support to these folks, letting them know you approve!) All will highlight a Web site, trojanevolve.com.

Daniels also said that the company was spending more on the Evolve campaign than any previous campaign, though declined to say how much.

(Hey Daniels, I'll run your ads! And I can get you a free list of more who will do the same. *wink*)

Source, New York Times.

Trojan is owned by Church & Dwight Co., Inc.

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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

More On Women In The Adult Industry

From the LA Daily News:
"No one has done a full-blown market research of any kind into either the brick-and-mortar or the online adult consumer market place," said Tom Hymes, publisher of XBiz, a trade magazine about the industry.

"My own personal feeling of this is most (consumers) are still men, but I have seen more women coming into the industry to make content for other women, to build Web sites for women. The issue of women being creative and significant in the industry is not going away."

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Monday, July 2, 2007

Applause Is Nice; But Send Money Too

My friend, Emily Dubberley, is one of those interviewed in An orgasm of one's own: women who spank back.

Mostly this is just a plug *wink* but if you're interested in knowing more about women as a target market for your adult business read it.

Those who are in the biz, will love how the piece starts:
"A woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction." The crux of Virginia Woolf's polemic on female creativity -- first declared in 1928 and walloped around the theoretical arena ever since -- resounds today more than ever for the post-Sex and the City generation. Sure, the envisaged room is a "post-war Upper-East side walk-up" and the finances are limited by a substance abuse problem (expensive footwear), but the ethos remains the same: for women to create, they need agency.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Women, Men And The Porn Industry

Remember that event I told you about, the Women and the Porn Industry event in Chicago?

Well, now you can read a review of the documentary, including a clip, and find out about the discussion afterwards.

(In case you're wondering, all these links are NWS!)

One of my favorite quotes from that discussion is from Jack Hafferkamp, of Libido films:
I think that part of the problem is that most porn is really kind of stupid, sexist, and demeaning. I mean, we know that. So is the solution to shut it down or do better stuff? I think clearly the answer is to do better stuff. Where do American males get their sex education? It's there, so why not make it material that actually provides useful information? It seems to me to be the way to go rather than say don't do it at all.
Easy to see why I'm such a fan, huh? *wink*

One of the most surprising things from this discussion was when one of the male participants spoke:
I'm a heterosexual man and what I want is definitely what you're doing. I saw "Trial Run" and it was the first time I'd actually seen a man in a pornographic movie that didn't scare the shit out of me. (laughs) The guy-his name escapes me-he's having sex, and it's sexy, and he looks normal and human shaped and he's...pudgy. Wow, it's so comforting and the sex was hot. I'm also a librarian and the most frequently stolen book at the library where I worked was "How to Make Love Like a Porn Star" by Jenna Jameson, which was really strange. How do you as filmmakers educate a younger generation about sex without giving them strange ideas?
I'm rather surprised men at this gathering spoke at all, really; let alone be so honest. (What man could both be brave enough to speak at a female centric event ~ and keep his wits about himself, at least enough to speak? lol)

I really wish I could have been there...

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Thinking Of Pinking?

In case you've been thinking of just splashing pink about your product or website to appeal to women, take a look at how it's been done historically.

Ask yourself if those ideas were good ones.

Then ask yourself if that's how you want to be viewed. *wink*

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Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Carnival of the Capitalists

The Marketing Whore welcomes you to the Carnival of the Capitalists.

The good news: All posts which are safe for work reading. (So click and link away!)

The bad news: This post was delayed due to our server being down (still celebrating Memorial Day we guess). Sorry about that.

The next carnival, June 4, will be hosted at Spooky Action.

Now, onto the carnival.

Marketing:

Zenofeller.com smacks of rebellion (with a hint of lunacy) with The Failure of Marketing:
Historically, marketing is plagued by one fundamental, strategical failure. It fails to communicate the notion of "don't buy this shit".
Nope, that's not a typo. And don't let my hype fool ya, there's genius in this post. (Genius always has a hint of insanity.)

At Sox First the Six rules to avoid PR disasters are mandatory reading. I don't care if PR interests you or not; this is vital.

The Buzz Bin had a great post on Pitching Bloggers:
What's wrong is treating bloggers like traditional media outlets. New media content creators do not have any obligation to "report" or field inquiries. They don't have to write up a kind review of your product (even if you comp them something), and a great majority distrust traditional public relations tactics.
(This post is a follow-up to this post, Thinking Bloggers and Pitching Blogs, which I think he intended to be his first link in that post... In any case, I also recommend reading it.)

In Queercents says, God Made Me Buy It: The Virtue of Consumption. This line should make you go read it:
consumerism is consumerism... no matter what virtue or non-virtue is pushing you to buy something.
Gender & Culture:

The Epicurean Dealmaker poses some interesting gender matters regarding i-banking in Fingernails that Shine Like Justice. Also a delight ~ no, make that a riot to read.
I have witnessed and participated firsthand in sustained and determined efforts to increase the number of women recruited into investment banks, and it is true that the number entering each year in first-year analyst and associate classes has increased markedly from my youth. However, what is also true is that very few of these women stay. The ones I know who do genuinely seem to enjoy their work, and they can cut the balls off a charging rhinocerous (or CEO) with an indenture with the best of them, all the while making their doltish male colleagues think impure thoughts about their pantyhose. In other words, I am of the opinion that smart, aggressive women have a distinct advantage over men in investment banking. Why, therefore, aren't there more of them?
Phil for Humanity writes about The Size of Money. Those who cannot see and those who are new to the US have to deal with our funny money and it's time we started making more cents sense with our money.

Econbrowser writes on something we all are thinking about, fuel prices, with the current status of Arizona Clean Fuels' effort to build a new refinery, Who should pay this bill?

General Business:


Atlantic Canada's Small Business Blog compares Business life lesson - Business is a team sport. But don't mistake this for just the typical "No 'I' in "Team" talk; this is worth reading.

InsureBlog ponders health care in Margarita's & Medicine. As a self-employed person who knows many others in this same boat, I know we wonder what's worth paying for. Here's a perspective I recommend you read.
You can cough up the $40,000 or so to have your joint replaced (if you do not have insurance).

Or, you can jet to an exotic isle where the procedure is more like $6000.
hell's handmaiden discusses Supply, demand, behavior, profit ... and such like. With 8 points, she had me intrigued at the first one:
The law of supply and demand is not based on human behavior. It is assumed.
Small Biz Survival asks, What is an entrepreneur? I found the ideas for spotting and supporting them to be most interesting.

Wayne Hurlbert at Blog Business World has a book review of Run With The Bulls by Tim Irwin. Does Wayne give it a thumbs up or down? Go read and see.

Charles H. Green of Trusted Advisor says Far too many people are calling themselves "Trusted Advisors", and he's got some advice for you if you're considering joining them:
The two most trust-destroying words you can say are, "trust me." Never say you're someone's trusted advisor, much less say you want to be, much less build an ad campaign around it. It is inherently non-credible and insincere. (I try on my own website-- which of course uses the term -- to say "helping people become trusted advisors" -- and not to claim that I are one).
Businesspundit wrote What Tiger Woods Can Teach You About Running a Business. Even the non-golfers can follow the lessons. And we need them.
In business, I think we often know the things we should do, but instead we try to do the things we want to do. We like the random fun things. We want to plan, brainstorm, hold meetings, all the stuff that doesn't require any discipline or focus.
Can I get an, "Amen," from you all? *wink*

About.com Entrepreneur's Guide discusses Borrowing to Build Your Business. I know a few of you may be tempted to by-pass this post, but read this line and see if you shouldn't change your mind:
why would you want to borrow instead of getting investors? Simply put, borrowed money is cheaper than invested money.
Also, a few posts with neat resources:

The Alexander Report has a list of Apparel and Textile Associations and Organizations.

Prosperity Achiever has a CSS Tools Collection.

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Friday, May 25, 2007

Talking Heads

Astronomer Sir Patrick Moore, who must hail from Uranus, says that TV is going to hell and that those darn women-folk are to blame:
"The trouble is the BBC now is run by women and it shows soap operas, cooking, quizzes, kitchen-sink plays. You wouldn't have had that in the golden days."

I used to watch Doctor Who and Star Trek, but they went PC - making women commanders, that kind of thing. I stopped watching

"I would like to see two independent wavelengths - one controlled by women, and one for us, controlled by men."
The ass-tronomer said female newsreaders (talking heads) are "jokey" and called for ~ get this ~ separate channels for the sexes.

Spike and Lifetime may agree, but then they exist in a marketplace as options and I don't think anyone believes that menfolk sit in their parlors with brandy snifters and cigars watching Spike while the womenfolk wash dishes in the kitchen and cry into their dishtowels as they watch Lifetime ~ and then they turn off their television sets to each crawl into their individual twin bed, occasionally pushing them together to procreate (but always with one foot on the floor at all times). Sheesh.

I think this guy's insane. Not just British, but insane. "Sir" Patrick Moore was the giant head on GamesMaster, which either way serves to A) discredit him as a man of media taste or 2) proves that he has a rather large head ~ in which case I still feel vindicated.

Maybe I should just give Max Headroom a call and see what his thoughts are...

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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Women Wired For Communication (Part One)

Rob, who should be blogging himself because he makes me think hard, posted more comments:
OK, onto my point. I think my original comment about women studying war philosophy may have been a bit much. And you make a worthy claim that there are psychological, cultural and biological factors at work here.

All I'm saying is that when we're discussing power, whether it's wielded by men or women, there are forces that need to be considered and steps that need to be taken for individuals to obtain it. I made the war reference, because competition for power in the real world is like a war. The works of Sun Tzu, Machiavelli and Clausewitz address this human element.

I think women who are advancing to power positions - once held only by men - are adapting to this in competition. This explains why we see people like Margret Thatcher or Condoleeza Rice - and possibly Hilary - who have the stoic resolve that male predecessors displayed. These women are not representative of the female psyche, at least in a traditional and conventional sense.

Normative conformity explains conventional human behavior. What we've been witnessing is revolutionary, in terms of gender roles.
I don't believe that "competition for power is like a real war." Maybe I'm too Utopianistic (new word, I guess) but I not only believe it is possible for a person to have power without warring for it, but I welcome these people.

It is entirely possible, and even happens thus, that a person has power simply by excelling at something. In fact, there are many persons who have had power thrust upon them, even if they didn't ask for it or particularly want it. These folks we consider heroes, leaders and icons even ~ legendary but not legends for they are real. In the pursuit of power there are games, strategy and things akin to (if not outright) war; and those who achieve power can just as easily enter into the same games. But I see that as human weakness, not inherently part of power itself. That said, I'll move onto your more specific points.

Some of the female leaders you refer to, power brokers or those who want to have positions of power, they have fallen into the games of pursuit. Politics as we currently know it, is a pursuit of power. (Once upon a time the service of citizens was a job often thrust upon people ~ people who just thought they were doing their jobs or 'the right thing.; but now it's a 'run for office' more than a call to serve. Even those who view political office as a duty to serve are pulled into the games and strategy because of this 'race' mentality.) In this pursuit, one must play by the rules of the race.

If you think that these women have advanced by less-than-feminine behaviors, well reconsider my points about women having had to learn the game. If we women had to learn the rules for survival, we sure have to do so to excel. Currently the rules are male rules and those who adopt (or at least reflect) male attributes, it is thought, will succeed. In this sense they most certainly are "representative of the female psyche." Though as we've seen, when women do adopt male views, behaviors and stances they are not often respected for playing by the rules but rather impugned for not being feminine. It's a lose-lose scenario most often.

I see no data to support any claims that we are witnessing any revolution in terms of gender and leadership roles. That a few female leaders exist is quite sad when we are half (or more) of the population.

Rob continues:
What does this mean for future generations of young, bright and motivated women? I don't know, but the external pressures from all directions tell ME that our world is changing. And gender roles are changing with it. Women are not better communicators simply by nature. They're better communicators, because their previous role and survival required it. This isn't the case anymore.
Well you (and others) may see change, but it's small and certainly not hitting revolutionary status yet.

Are gender roles changing? It depends upon where you make your comparisons. Do women have more options or roles than they did in the 1950's? Somewhat. At least there are more of us willing to take the crap for being non-traditional. Do women have more choices than they have had at any point in history? I'd say no. For example, in the 40's women had more freedoms than in other years; but then again, once the men returned from war they had to be forced back ~ barefoot & pregnant into those 1950's kitchens. In pre-Victorian times there are quite a few examples to point to regarding women being valued more than we are now. (The Victorian period really did quite a bit of damage, with lasting effects ~ it's a fascinating subject, but I don't wish to digress more than I already have.)

The fact that "gender roles" is even a discussion points to the fact that there is inequity; so how much significant change has their been?

As for the matter of women being better communicators... this too is a very meaty subject. (At least my previous posts have not done enough to clear things up in this regard lol)

"Women are not better communicators simply by nature. They're better communicators, because their previous role and survival required it." Well, that implies that you got part of what I was saying ~ but you're reducing this to a 'nature vs. nurture' discussion and dismissing 'nature' as no longer relevant when it is a large part of our biology.

Survival, selection, has served the communicating female human well. She and her offspring survived where the poor communicator or non-discriminating sort did not. This gives us a genetic legacy, a biology which ~ even if you argue isn't needed or 'the case anymore' ~ we have not yet even begun to drop from our genetic selves. Looking at our species as a whole, our history since becoming an agricultural animal is but a blip in time. Our bodies have not yet caught up with these changes yet, so I doubt the female-communication connection has changed yet.

In fact, communication is gender issue inherent in our development. Every human brain begins as a female brain ~ if at eight weeks after conception it becomes male, excess testosterone shrinks the communications center (among other actions). This connection between gender and communication has been noticed by Louann Brizendine, M.D and written about in her book, The Female Brain.

Also recent findings regarding tentative connections between testosterone and autism and testosterone and empathy indicate that testosterone affects communication as well. (This could also indicate, as I suspect, that women are indeed far better suited not only to communicate ~ create marketing messages ~ but to evaluate a marketing campaign's success as she can better 'read' the reactions of receivers.)

As Brizendine says, "Gender education and biology collaborate to make us who we are." So as long as our brains are wired for communication (which it seems clear we are) and our culture still has unique gender roles (which there are, and they require us to learn male rules), we remain women who rely on and excel at communication.

Now, what say you? *wink*

(Stay tuned for Part Two; and if you have not yet done so, please subscribe to the newsletter!)

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Monday, April 23, 2007

Surprise! Women Undeniable Majority Of Internet Users

According to eMarketer, women outnumber men online, and it's likely to stay that way:
Not only do females make up the majority of Internet users, but more of the female population goes online. This year, an estimated 66.2% of US females ages 3 and older will use the Internet at least once a month, compared with 64.2% of males, according to eMarketer. By 2011, 72.1% of females are expected to go online, vs. 69.3% of males.
According to their report:
Amid all the excitement online video is causing, marketers must keep one fact in mind: Of the estimated 97 million females online in the US, only 66% of them actually watch videos online, compared with 78% of males who do.
One thing they are quick to note is that women are not less savvy than men when it comes to Internet technology. And they believe that Web 2.0 (aka social networking) will only increase female use.

Why this continual surprise that women are using the Internet? Women outnumber men, so we should outnumber men on the Internet, yes?

But then in more in-depth news coverage of the eMarketer report, both in Reuters and in Sydney Morning Herald, eMarketer's senior analyst, Debra Aho Williamson, makes broader gender claims which seem to make this report more 'surprising.'

I was reminded the early days of the Internet, when many feared that women would never adopt it ~ or at least not in the way males had. This was easily a decade ago, and we're still talking about it? Sheesh. We've gone from ugly Geocities pages to ugly MySpace pages, from FrontPage to blogging, and from static html to all sorts of scripts and toys, so maybe we're still slow to understand what's important here.

They were partly right; women do use the Internet differently.

During those days, ecommerce was a large 'threat' to the way of WWW life ~ it was a perversion of what they held sacred. Sort of like the good old boys business club where they greedily yell "mine, Mine, MINE", only instead of old white men, the Internet had really young boys (most of whom were white too) and these kids and twenty-somethings thought it was all theirs and they didn't want to change.

But ecommerce came along and women were strong adopters of online shopping. No mere coincidence in my mind.

While men surfed for consumer reports, reviews and price comparisons, they still purchased locally in person. Women on the other hand, loved the time savings of shopping and purchasing online. They could sit at home in their jammies, after the kids were asleep, and complete so many shopping errands... This of course led to mommies and others to making the Internet a tool for simplification of their lives. Email, ecards, maps and other tools proved the pc was more than just a toy. But of course, more time online meant they would find other joys of the Internet.

While Williamson doesn't say anything which completely contradicts gender roles, there is still this aura of surprise.

Women are huge consumers, including of technology. Women are humans first, so we will be drawn to many of the same activities and uses of the Internet and technology. But our roles are different, so we may be drawn more to somethings more than others.

Women tend to be more social in terms of talking not just 'hanging out' so we likely will participate more in chats, forums, discussions and blogging than men who will just forward a video or a link to a website. Women and men may be interested in many of the same things, but women will want to talk about why they are interested in something whereas men typically think forwarding a clip or link is self-explanatory ~ it's all that needs to be said.

So why this continual surprise over the differences in gender usage? It's not like women stop being human when confronted with new things. Nor do our 'real world' gender differences cease to exist online.

(Those who think women are so different would likely buy this bridge I have for sale... It's in Brooklyn and if you charged a toll you could really rake it in! I also can also put you in touch with a man in Africa who has millions of dollars to deposit in your bank account ~ just email me your bank account and routing information. Since women are so different from men these offers from a woman must be true!)

But then again, the gaming industry long underestimated the number of women ~ including older women (30s-40s) ~ who were active gamers spending lots of cash & entire weekends playing games. Fundamentally, both the teenage boys and the more mature women played games for the same reason: to escape & to compete, but marketers still seem to be struggling to use this knowledge in both the creation of games and the presentation of games.

So why would should I expect pundits to recognize that women are a strong segment of this market, powerful users of this technology?

I guess maybe it will take more 'surprising' numbers in 'surprising' studies to convince them all.

...Meanwhile, if anyone is interested in that bridge, contact me.

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Powerful Pornography Stats

According to these Pornography Statistics...

The USA produces the most porn pages (with 244,661,900 ~ second place, Germany, isn't even close with 10,030,200), yet it isn't the highest per capita in spending on porn nor in revenues. Yet the US leads in video porn production. And US porn revenue exceeds the combined revenues of ABC, CBS, and NBC.

The pornography industry is larger than the revenues of the top technology companies combined: Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo!, Apple, Netflix and EarthLink.

When it comes to women, 1/3 of visitors to adult websites are women. Twice as many women favor chat rooms as men. Also noted, women are far more likely to act out their behaviors in real life (such as having multiple partners, casual sex, or affairs).

For US users, the higher your income, the higher your porn spending ~ which likely is linked to disposable income, but also suggests that the average porn purchase is made by a college grad with a decent job (i.e. respectable persons). The bulk of users are aged 35-44 ~ and those older pay for porn more than younger folks do.

Every second 28,258 Internet users are viewing pornography.

While you can (and should) read more from this statistical report, I'd like to point out that in the list of top 20 search terms, neither "erotica" nor "erotic stories" shows up. More proof that erotica is a tough marketing gig (and I know there are lots of you here with that task).

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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Book Review: Cows, Pigs, Wars and Witches

Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture by Marvin Harris

In this book, Harris explains deeply held cultural beliefs which seem to confuse.

For example, while Westerners think that Indians would rather starve than eat their cows, Harris points out that what Westerners don't understand is that Indians will starve if they do eat their cows. This Cow Love is based on very pragmatic reasons, for which religion, a cultural construct, was created to support. And so, from Pig Love to Pig Hate, from War & Savage Men, from Messiahs and Witches, Harris looks at each cultural riddle and gives equally pragmatic theories.

Why is this important in marketing?

Well, for one, we must deal with Sacred Cows ~ both in terms of the companies we work for (and with) as well as those held dear by the markets we wish to reach. This could open quite a few eyes which want to see & sell in a global marketplace (as well as offer ways of seeing and surviving corporate cultures).

But it's not just these concepts which are illuminating. Nor is it the ability of the business savvy reader to extrapolate the ideas of the re-distribution of goods (and demands and expectations thereof). Or even for the lessons in Cultural Materialism (Harris' work in which ideas, values, and religious beliefs are the means or products of adaptation to environmental conditions and/or ecological and evolutionary systems). All fascinating, yet Harris offers something more.

Harris takes what we think we know, what we have been taught ~ and still teach years after his work ~ and re-examines it all. No longer must we accept anything we've been told, but are asked to search deeper, to scrutinize and study, and to come up with evidence for what we believe or state. We must also be prepared to change our beliefs and thoughts.

That alone is a lesson worthy of learning.

But there is more ~ and this is why I highly recommend this 'unusual' book to marketers (or anyone who feels they must specialize). In discussing overspecialization Harris wrote this in the Preface:
I respect the work of individual scholars who patiently expand and perfect their knowledge of a single century, tribe, or personality, but I think that such efforts must be made more responsive to issues of general and comparative scope. The manifest inability of our overspecialized scientific establishment to say anything coherent about the causes of lifestyles does not arise from any intrinsic lawlessness of lifestyle phenomena. Rather, I think it is the result of bestowing premium rewards on specialists who never threaten a fact with theory. A proportionate relationship such as has existed fro some time now between the volume of social research and the depth of social confusion can only mean one thing: the aggregate social function of all that research is to prevent people from understanding the causes of their social life.

The pundits of the knowledge establishment insist that this state of confusion is due to a shortage of studies. Soon there will be a seminar in the sky based on ten thousand new field trips. But we shall know less, not more, if these scholars have their way. Without a strategy aimed at bridging the gap between specialties and at organizing existing knowledge along theoretically coherent lines, additional research will not lead to a better understanding of the causes of lifestyles.
Here's an invitation, a challenge, to concentrate more on building bridges between specialties and to create meaningful bodies of work, rather than to compartmentalize and specialize to the degree that we explain & learn nothing.

Marketing is one one of those areas which already touches on, draws from, so many areas that we should be among the first (or more ardent) adopters of this practice of integration for a purpose.

The 'average' marketing person looking for a step-by-step outline of actions to follow, or guiding principals clearly listed, will be disappointed with this book. But for those who enjoy a meaty meal of ideas to slowly digest over time, adding this set of nutrients (views & ideas) to their steady diet of 'how to' books, this is a rich feast. For those above-average marketing pros who are serious about understanding society and culture, this is required reading.

The Whore's Rating: Buy It. And I mean that in general ~ per this review (NWS).

Title: Cows, Pigs, Wars, and Witches: The Riddles of Culture
Author: Marvin Harris
Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (December 17, 1989)
ISBN-10: 0679724680
ISBN-13: 978-0679724681

The Whore's Book Review Rating System:
Buy It: A must have for your shelf.

Buy It Now: Not only a 'must have,' but so good, you should rush order it.

Check Out: Go to your library and read it. (If it means more than that to you, then you can buy it or put it on your wish list.)

Pass: Not worth your time or money.

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Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Addressing Rob With My Keys

Alternately titled: Typing Replies to Rob *wink*

Rob, continuing our gender talk, wrote: "I'm not entirely sure women "study" men as much as you say. I think women are doing well, moving up and replacing highly placed men in many professions (especially communications). Nancy Pelosi is a good example - or Chile's Michelle Bachelet - Hilary may be another one. And without a doubt, gender roles are improving. However, until more women are absorbing Sun Tzu, Machiavelli or Clausewitz and fewer are talking about what "should be," I think it will be difficult for women to "gain permission" to advance from their male counterparts."

Gee Rob, reading that I get the feeling you're anti-women in the workplace. At the very least your words show a less than positive sentiment. Since you yourself admit to "youth" and its "passing" perhaps I can hasten this passing a bit? *wink*

First of all, women do study men. Perhaps not in the scholarly way that one might take the word 'study' to mean, but in the more subtle (and survival) sense of the word. As those in the lesser-than role, women (and others called minorities because we do not share in the power despite our numbers) must know not only our roles but all the players. We need to know the rules to obey them. If you think the know-to-survive is a bunch of whiny BS from some chick, then how about some normative conformity 101?

According to D.J. Schneider, Professor of Psychology and Cognitive Sciences at Rice University, normative conformity stems largely from the individual's desire for acceptance and belonging ~ and the fear of negative evaluation and social ostracism. (Schneider, D.J. (1976) Social Psychology. Phillipines: Addison-Wesley)

Conformity is not only a conscious act, it is very often an unconscious pressure. Dr. Andrew M. Colman, Professor of Psychology at the University of Leicester, testified to this very power/pressure during the South African Transport Services trial:

An alteration in your behaviour or opinions in line with other group members, as a result of merely knowing what the other group members' behaviours or opinions are... knowing does not mean continual conscious decision-making. In the initial phase of group membership, individuals are conscious of what is expected of them, but as the life of the group continues, conforming behaviour becomes increasingly automatic and hence unconscious. (Court Record, p. 2103)


But I digress... Onto my next point.

Second, there is biology to consider when it comes to (some) gender issues. In Why DO Women Talk So Much?, the author Deanna Dahlsad (a good friend of mine) writes of woman's need to communicate:

The many life-saving conversations among our female ancestors consisted of sharing the details of the day's work with other members of the group. This is also practical, since gathering is all about the details. You have to know each leaf pattern and shape, and not just what color, but what shade it is; because eating the wrong plant or picking the berry at the wrong time could mean death. What better time to educate the younger or newer members of the group than to with show and tell? These detailed training conversations are still alive among gathering societies today -- be it 'primitive' cultures or women 'gathering' at the mall.

...But there's another aspect to this communication as well.

Think about these groups of women relying upon one another to be trained in the subtle art of gathering. As they walk along, bent over, looking for signs of edible goodies, they are also listening to the voices of the group members. They are not merely listening for tips on spotting safe foods or cries of 'deep red ripe berries over here!' but for the
tone of voices. Does she sound alarmed? Does she sound too far away? Urc's been quieter than usual... is she sick? Again, they are paying attention to the details in the voices themselves. And they also listening for what is missing... Has Ug's voice been heard recently? Is she missing?!


If you don't accept this as fact, or at least consider it a very good possibility, then you will not be allowed later to point out any arguments regarding males as hunters. *wink*

Should we both agree (and I know I can count on you to let me know if we do not) that biology has some impact on communication and that gender has some impact on roles in the patriarchal society in which we live, then we move onto your point about women who you think spend too much time talking about what "should be."

While I agree that talk alone isn't much, it is a second step. First comes the realization, the thought, which is put into the action of communication. Surely more than talk must occur; more action is needed. But talk is important (which is what this blog is about, yes?)

Women, no matter their lot or roles, cannot create any change without talking and creating a mission. Instead of suggesting their talk is too wistful, whiny or otherwise wasted, consider yourself flattered to hear it. Even if it's a lecture. You, my friend, now have a choice to make: Are you part of the revolution, the change; or will you sit back on your privileged backside?

Yes, as a male you are privileged ~ don't kid yourself into thinking anything else ~ you have luxuries women do not have, just as I, as a white women, have benefited from the luxury of my skin more than my sisters who are not white. Now it's up to me to recognize this privilege and accept it as a responsibility ~ an opportunity.

So, dear Rob (who must by now feel like a whipping boy!), you have an opportunity ~ several actually. You can work towards equality and you can work towards our clean-up in aisle 12. Or not. It's up to you.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Linky-Do (And Linky-Don't)

Some relevant reading, a la The Whore:

From the Taipei Times, US: 'Citizen journalist' Web sites flourish; Bloggers and the Internet become more mainstream in today's media. (A general re-cap of much of the issue, but interesting to read a non-US perspective ~ even if US folks opinions are used.)

In Anyone Seen My Blog Post? we are (again) reminded (nauseated) by copyright violation and general bad practices. (Super bonus points for the actual content under discussion which continues our gender in PR talk. I wonder what they think of me? *wink*)

My post title isn't just clever ~ I wanted to also note something basic but oft overlooked in this whole blogging world...

When you post something to your blog, and you discovered it via some other blogger or website, you are supposed to thank or at least acknowledge them. Really.

Think of this as blogger etiquette with a side-dish of snappy green peas. For not only is it polite, but if your posting is really nothing new (in other words you don't add to the discussion but merely pass it along), perhaps that's all you should be doing rather than paraphrasing what they said (and by-passing the link out of shame).

If you'd be embarrassed to have another look at your post and the other blogger's post because you'd come up short, then perhaps you don't have a real 'post', but a 'point'. If so, just point (link) to the other person's words rather than re-iterate what they already said. In this case, it is polite to point.

As an example, my second link was found via Spin Thicket. See how easy that was?

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Monday, April 2, 2007

Gender in PR (Rob's Questions Answered)

As mentioned, Rob posted some good questions regarding the matter of the number of women in PR. Several of his points lead to much larger issues of PR (and business) as a whole, which I addressed here. These are the questions left unaddressed in that post.

Rob wrote: "Why do you think old white PR men are in the C-suite more than women? Given the high turnover rate of PR jobs, do you think women really want PR to be their long-term profession?"

Simply put, men still rule the world. Men are not there because they wish to be there more long-term than women do; men are just in more places of power period.

Rob said: "Gender dominance in the field of strategic communication is not good for either side, whether it's male or female. Your point about women being better communicators by nature is not really true to strategic communication. PR pros are trying to win clients by preserving their interests and persuading important groups more than they are trying to communicate natural human needs."

My position, firmly, is that marketing, PR or "strategic communication" should be about natural human needs. If your product, service isn't based on a need, that's when folks resort to "spin," "lies," and the other derogatory things folks bad-mouth the profession for ~ simply because the 'thing' isn't needed at all. If you feel that the duties require more persuasion, like strong-armed talk, than you are missing the concept of value driven business.

Also, your tone indicates that you believe men are better persuaders than women. This is not the case. As a group who exists beneath another group, we know more about how you powerful males tick than men do. We have to because our survival depends upon it. While clearly we are not slaves to master, we are to seek permission, not assume we have the power ourselves, and face others issues of equality. Uppity women get slapped, not (always) physically, and so we need to know what might cause that slap, that consequence. As a result, we women know you men and your motivations very well.

Do I think any field dominated by one group or another is 'best?' No. At least not entirely. But I also do not categorically say it is the 'worst' thing either. It depends upon the group, it's skill set and the duties to be performed. Women are much more effective, eager and willing communicators. These are assets. And to be sure, in a profession run by (and run under) men (or male dominated groups), business could stand not only our natural assets but speak to, finally, a world of female consumers ~ long neglected (or pandered to).

Rob questions why women would "flock" to PR given "such tumultuous waters." Along with all of the above I ask, "But really, aren't women also consumers?" As consumers of products, of media; and also fed corporate philosophies. They are tired of the way things are and want to be involved in change. This culture shift is a human response and women are humans first.

Also women are used to cleaning up the messes of men. At least if we get in and clean up this marketing/business mess, if we are the majority, we have a much better means to keep it clean. Will we do it? That remains to be seen... I sure hope so. But much of this possibility rests upon the fact that CEOs and others, who are a largely male population, must agree to the clean-up and the changes in more than token ways.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

Chicago Event: Women & Porn

Sex-Kitten.Net is proud to help with this event!

WOMEN AND PORN: How Women are Changing the Adult Film Industry from Behind the Camera

Hosted and moderated by Sex-Kitten.Net's own The Libertine aka 'Libby' this event features:

A screening of the documentary Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography ~ and Q&A with director Becky Goldberg.

Synopsis: Hot and Bothered: Feminist Pornography is a rare and empowering look into the pornography industry and feminist community to see how they intertwine within the politics and poetics of female sexuality. It shows women who are committed to making and supporting pornography that includes their feminist values and will go up against an entire industry, stereotypes, and sexism to get what they want. Who better to claim the adult industry for themselves than the women it depends on?

Following the screening
, there will be a panel discussion regarding women filmmakers and perspectives in the Chicago adult film industry featuring the following"

Carolyn Caizzi ~ director of Early to Bed Productions "Coming Home", the upcoming "Special Delivery" and other queer smut

And

Jack Hafferkamp ~ one half of the Libido Films production team (with partner Marianna Beck) and former editor of Libido: The Journal of Sex and Sensibility.

Also, raffle prizes donated by Early to Bed, Sex-Kitten.Net*, and Libido Films!

Saturday March 24, 2007
at 7:30 PM

The Leather Archives Museum
6418 N. Greenview
Chicago, IL 60626

$5 suggested donation

Sponsored by Early to Bed, 5232 N. Sheridan Rd., Chicago

* Sex-Kitten.Net is donating copies of Sex~Kitten.net Presents: The BDSM Issue, Dance of Submission, by Jude Mason, and one Tit-Elation.com's 'Best Of' Quarterly (a lovely hardcover book in a fine dust jacket).

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Thursday, March 22, 2007

The Sky Is Falling: Women In PR

In PR Girls and PR Boys Scott poses an interesting question:
Recent statistics show that 70% of PR practitioners are female. This is up from 50.1% in 1980 and 41% in 1979. Based on those numbers, the trend is obvious. One could argue that this increase has occurred in many sectors over the past forty years and is not restricted to public relations. Still, 70% is quite high.

For forty minutes, students in my class argued over the various reasons why females make up the bulk of public relations practitioners.

Some of the most common beliefs:

* Women are better communicators than men.
* Public relations pays better than other female dominated fields.
* The school system tends to push girls towards reading/writing and boys towards math. In other words, girls learn the core skill set needed for public relations at a younger age than boys.
* Women find public relations to be more welcoming than other business disciplines.

What do you think? Can we pinpoint it to a single reason, or is it a combination of factors?
I'd bet on the first point. (Along with a few other reasons which must wait 'til the end of this post.) But what I really want to draw your attention to are the comments. However, before I do that I should make at least one thing perfectly clear...

I'm the kind of a girl who wears her political beliefs on her sleeve ~ and in this case my sleeve is wearing the scarlet letter 'F' for Feminist. Even while I know that mentioning politics may turn off some (many?) readers here, the comments left at that blog posting makes is pretty damn near impossible for me not to say something political. You have been warned.

Comment #3 comes from Lauren who writes:
I will get hate mail for this, but are women better at deceiving others? I don't necessarily agree women are better communicators overall, but women can be more persuasive. Unfortunately some women take it to the extreme.
Et tu, Lauren? Some women are so indoctrinated by our culture that they even deal in the worst female stereotypes themselves. I won't send you hate mail, Lauren, for I'm too busy shaking my head at this (and my following points about your comment). The fact that no one really disliked Lauren's stance (Ed just laughed and Erin was too busy addressing other points) is rather irksome, but do you know what's far worse? Lauren has just called all PR people "deceiver's" ~ at a PR blog hangout no less ~ and no one stood up to defend the profession!

I'm used to folks saying crap about women and no one caring, but a gaggle of PR students and gurus and no one is going to stand up for their profession? That's very sad.

I've got more to say on this attitude regarding PR, but one thing at a time... one thing at at time... And right now, the issue is that of gender disparity in the PR field.

If Lauren's comments were saddening, these next ones are maddening.

Comment #1 comes from Greg who wrote much. Let me address each of his points while trying not to puke.
* Women, despite significant gains, still make less than men across most industries, even when education and other factors are accounted for (Data): Now, depending on which economist you talk to, there are some potentially valid reasons for a difference in market-established wages. But if your whole industry is skewed heavily female (and the trend, BTW, is only accelerating in PR), then it's reasonable to think average payscales will be lower than if the labor pool were more gender balanced.
Ah, let's blame women for lowering the pay scale in the field. Let's blame the victims of lower wages and not the "potentially valid reasons" that exist which allow for the 77 cents on the dollar and other bullshit. Hey, Greg, if your so concerned that women will ruin your paycheck, why not at least pretend to care about the women entering your field by doing whatever you can to ensure they get paid what the boys do. I may think your motivation as self-serving bastard is poor, but at least you'll be helping others along the way.
* Homogeneity weakens what we provide: Women and men think differently -- look at the cross-tabs of any wide-ranging poll and you'll spot fundamental differences. Like other professions, in PR the best thinking emerges when ideas, outlooks and attitudes all jostle, compete and distill down to wisdom and strategy. It's harder (not impossible, but harder) do that when you're working amid a big gender imbalance.
Homogeneity is fine if it's (old & white) men say in politics, but heaven help us if women 'control' something. For how many years we've had PR (and every other field or profession) dominated by males and I bet Greg didn't worry his pretty little head that each field, every industry or government was so "weakened."

The Good Old Days were full of the Good Old Boys ~ and you know what they did? They created the gender disparity in market-established wages, among other messes. Granting women no better brains, ethics or practices than men, perhaps women will create a lock on PR and demand more pay.

Greg also stated that "in PR the best thinking emerges when ideas, outlooks and attitudes all jostle, compete and distill down to wisdom and strategy." I'm gathering he thinks a female majority equals a loss of good ideas because there will be fewer men there to think of them.
* It also erodes outside perception of what we do: The bigger problem is more subtle: As the industry skews to ever-greater female dominance, PR runs the risk of becoming "a pink-collar ghetto" where the value of our profession - and those in it - is eroded in some circles.
Unless you ultimately view women as less-than, just how does a female majority in a profession automatically "erode outside perceptions" of the field?

Any replies of "pink-collar ghetto" are really just rehashing the lower pay scale issue, which I believe I've addressed above. If you want to take pride in your profession then treat all members as professionals and get on with it. Paying equal wages for equal work is part of that professional respect. If you don't like the lowering pay or fear lowered respect for yourself, then work against such practices. As man you not only have the power to effect such things, but I'd say a responsibility to do so.

If you're not part of the solution, you are part of the problem.

Sitting around whining that lowly, less-than women are going to ruin your field isn't a solution. Treat them as equals, pay them as such, and act with pride that so many have chosen to educate and train themselves to enter your field.

Lastly Greg's opening statement, "the outcome is bad for the profession," which was what each of these points were to prove, were echoed by Richard who used the medical field as an example. Aiy-Carumba. Says who?

None of the points listed convinced me that an ever-greater female dominance is bad for anything, let alone PR where the reins are ultimately still held by old white men.

How depressing to see what open-arms await these newly trained PR women. They aren't lepers, they are women.

Returning to the question of why so many women are entering the world of PR, I'd say that along with communication being a natural talent, PR allows for a practical science which, unlike many of the other sciences, is welcoming to women. Or at least to women who have not read posts like the above.

PR also offers a position from which to effect change at a reachable level. When I get more into PR's own public relations nightmare this will be made more clear, but for now look at entry level business positions and see which fields have the greater potential for change. It's not accounting.

Also consider the options that PR folks have. They are out & about, visible, and can change companies quite easily without changing their skill sets. For younger generations who never saw dad get a gold watch for 70 years of service, they know that careers can be kept, but jobs and companies change. PR offers a practical flexibility where the product and name on the paycheck changes but the duties do not.

Why wouldn't a woman choose PR?

(...Unless she's uncomfortable with being called a dirty, dirty whore? *wink*)

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