don’t know if I’ve been so an- gry so early in the morning before. Last month I received a pitch from a long-timecredit union industry person whois now a public relations “professional.” I put professional inquotes because how she pitchedthis particular story was the opposite of professional, and justgross. Please keep the word “she”in mind here.
We get pitches for stories frompublic relations professionals every single day. Many of them areflagged for follow-up ideas andstories later on down the road,and many of them simply do notapply to our industry or wouldbe of little to no interest to ourreaders.
I struggled with sharing theactual email with you becausethe language that was used couldhave been taken a couple of ways.
One way you could have taken
the meaning would have been if
you were raised in the 1930s and
it was an innocent enough phrase
at that time. The other way to take
it is if you live in today’s world and
know it’s simply not appropriate
and plainly sexist.
The pitch announced a newvice president of (I’m not goingto say) at an organization and thisnew vice president just happenedto be a woman.
Knowing this public relations
person well enough, I felt like I
knew what they were really trying
to say: Hey, run this announce-
ment with this sexy headshot
of this person and your readers
will drool. The email ended with,
“Let me know if you have any
Yeah, I have several questions.
What in the hell are you doing
pitching out a new hire like she’s
on some kind of sex menu? Does
your client know this is how you
are pitching to the media? And fi-
nally, W TF?
The email included a typical
headshot of this person who was
just promoted. And let me be
very, very clear about this – we
never have and never will run a
photo of someone because we
think it would get more eyeballs
on the story and potentially turn
on our readers. We are not in the
business of sexing up what we
publish. Feeling excited about
coming up with a clever head-
line for a story is as sexy as it gets
at CU Times. If we wanted abs,
breasts or what we believed were
beautiful people to only be fea-
tured in our publication, it would
be called CU Times After Dark,
a subscription-only magazine
that’s delivered inside a plain
brown paper wrap to your office
(your credit card would be billed
discreetly as “This Is Not a Sex-
I’m not going to name theperson who pitched this to CUTimes, nor am I going to namethe client. Once I calm downabout this, I am going to call thisperson and explain to them thatthey can forever not contact CUTimes if this is who they are andhow they work.
I’ve had it with this behaviorfrom men and women in this industry. I’VE HAD IT! Enough ofyour old-school behavior. Enoughwith these types of demeaningways of thinking, even if the person is just trying to possibly “keepthings light” or whatever the excuse is.
Maybe it was all in good fun?
Maybe. Maybe this person was
just trying to be funny? Maybe.
Maybe this person was drunkfrom the night before when shesent this email? Maybe. Maybethis person has been around toolong and needs to go? Maybe.Maybe this person also calls mentally handicapped people the “R”word and homosexuals the “F”word? I don’t know and I don’tcare as long as they don’t involveme or my team and keep it tothemselves.
I was so disgusted by this person and her email. And, you knowwhat? I don’t think I’m overreacting or being hysterical about it.
This email pitch, to me, felt likeI was getting a creepy, unwantedshoulder massage from someoneat GAC. Get away from me youcrazy, gross person!
The wording of this particularpitch stood out because it reminded me just how backwardsthis industry can be if left aloneeven for a few minutes. I haveso many friends and respectedcolleagues in this credit unionspace that have been subject toso much disgusting behaviorover the years that many of themhave resigned themselves to the“I’m used to it” mentality. Comeon. We must do better as a group.If not, then we are just a bunchof pigs who fortunately cannotattend conferences and must apparently … work from home aspigs?
I have to guess that sexist behavior and complaints are way downthis year due to the coronavirus. Ifso, thank you COVID- 19 for givingso many people a reprieve fromthe disgustos out there.
I’m not necessarily lumping inthis person with all of the sexistjerks out there in our industry;this email just really hit a nerve.I am more disappointed that anemail pitch like this could go outto many of the media contactsaround the credit union spaceand that this person thought itwas a completely fine way to gettheir story published.
To be transparent, CU Times
did run the announcement be-
cause 1.) We felt this new hire
deserved to be recognized for her
accomplishment because it was
newsworthy and 2.) We felt like
it would be unfair to punish her
for an ignorant public relations
Years ago I experienced themost toxic and sexist work environment I’ve ever personally witnessed and it made me reevaluatewhere my career was heading.It’s legitimately what led me intothe credit union space. An industry with principles? That exists?Damn, I’m in!
I honestly do get protective ofthe credit union universe and recognize how much is wrong andright with it all.
Sexism, however placed orworded, just has no place here,anywhere, in this time or anyother time moving forward. I understand that sexism has beenaround for, uh, forever. And I getglimpses that we have and areevolving as humans, as a societyand as an industry. And then I feeldeflated and angry when thingslike this happen.
I have a relative who truly believes our country and the worldwas at its best in the 1950s. Youknow, when women were expected to stay at home with thechildren and segregation was thelaw of the land? There’s no reasoning with this relative who’sstuck in decades gone by, butthere is reasoning to do here inour space, in our credit unionworld.
Most of those I know in thisspace are progressive thinkerswith ideas and hearts to make usbetter and be better for everyone.For the rest of you who are pigs,sexists, chauvinists, homopho-bics, racists, anti-Semites, or prejudiced or disparaging against anyother human in any way – get outof my email and out of my way.I’ve had it with you. n
The Final (Sexist) Straw
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