Friday, June 25, 2010

What To Be Today, He-Man or Super Girl?

Today I got mistaken for being a dude. Not by the way I look or by the way I dress, but apparently by the way I email. (And I guess it doesn't help that my name is one of those that can be a guy or girl's name, but I always thought people would default girl ...) Anyway, check out this response I got from a tech blogger:

"Fantastic! Thanks man, can't wait to get the word out some more and make some happy readers :) Not to mention getting some more customers your way! Thanks again dude! -Matt"

Just a quick recap for you newbie readers, I am PR Working Girl and I work with bloggers and reporters to get them to help me spread the good word about my clients. In this case, I have a tech client and this Matt person is a blogger who is pretty pumped to review my client's new product on his blog.

SO. When I read this, I laughed. Then, I couldn't help but be like, but wait a minute, um, I'm a GIRL! I take it that the use of pet names like "man" and "dude" signify that Matt and I are now "buddies" ... which I guess is a good thing. I replied back with a simple, "No problem!" I didn't correct him, the sympathetic girl in me didn't want to hurt his feelings or risk him becoming so embarrased he decides not to write about my client. Was that the right thing to do?

As a PR Working Girl, I've learned that I need to "talk the talk" when it comes to working with bloggers and reporters. They are quite cunning and can see right through fluff. If I can talk like them, be like them, think like them, it builds this great crediblity and mojo between us; soon, they trust me and wah-la, we have a relationship. From there, I can then count on them to read my emails and listen to my pitches, and hey, if we're friends, they seem more likely to want to write about whatever news, nonsense or actually relevant, my clients come up with. Just kidding, we always have relevant news to share.

(Is it Friday? My sarcastic side tends to come out full force at this time.)

But when I genuinely get mistaken for being a dude, I have to stop and think if I'm taking it too far. Yes, this has happened before! Should I throw in more femininity in my writing, or just keep pretending to be a guy to those who like to believe that I am? Should I take it as a "professional compliment" that an esteemed tech blogger thinks I'm his bro? What does this all mean in terms of feminism in the workforce? I have a book given to me by an old boss of mine (a female boss) titled, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. I guess essentially that's what I'm doing, right?? I feel confused and torn.

Another funny thing about this situation is that my two other clients are incredibly girly, glamorous and fun fashion-y types. So when I'm emailing with them or pitching totally opposite side of the specturm design and fashion bloggers, I have to turn on the savvy and sassy part of me and bring out the exclamation marks, smiley faces and over-use all sorts of adverb/adjectives like "super cute" and "totally adorable," as well as sign all my notes with a loving "xo." (Although, it is interesting to note that Matt himself used several exclamations and a smiley face ...)

Anyone else out there who plays up their "masculine" side, or feminine side, to their professional advantage? How's it working for you?

10 comments:

eemusings said...

I definitely do tend to use more smileys and exclamations when emailing a) PR people and b) women, especially if they work in the artsy/creative sector.

But generally I try to avoid them.

citygal said...

I think guys use terms like "man" and "dude" without thinking much about gender. If you get coined "dude," then that means he considers you a buddy. My guy friends do this all the time and I'll admit, I do it too. But emoticons?! Guys shouldn't use those - ever!

The Fabulous Intern said...

I tend to email/speak differently in my personal life to men and women, not just in my working life. I think when we speak to girls, we speak girly in order to bond with each other. When we speak to men in the workplace, we do everything possible to appear professional and be taken seriously. Therefore we tend to eliminate any personal affections and stick to technical terms.

Not really something I thought about until I read your post.. interesting!

Kelsey said...

my professor was telling me about being careful about gender when you email.. I can imagine it's a bigger problems these days with unisex names!

Em said...

I am a chick but my last name is a boy's first name...I'll email colleagues (I work for a HUGE company) that I've never met and I get addressed by my last name ALL the time...my husband gets called by his last name but I guess he's used to it by now...

secretz01 said...

Well I have to admit I have changed the way I email people based on their gender or attitude. However I try not to as much as possible... I try and be gender neutral as much as possible. I would also correct someone who made that mistake... Good Luck!

kat said...

Absolutely. I email completely differently when I'm at work then when its a personal email. Guess that's good though!

angeline said...

I definitely cater my emails and tone (even in person) to the individual. I think it is part of my nature and indicative of a desire to connect with different people instead of expecting others to cater to you. I see it more as a hierarchy or personal relationship divide. If I'm talking to an exec, I will be more professional, regardless of whether it's a man or woman. If I'm writing to a good friend, I'll be more casual, whether it is a man or woman.

Great story, though. It's never happened to me, but my mom has an ethnic, unisex name, and I remember growing up (before email) we'd constantly get calls and mail for Mr. [mom's name]. That's when you know it's junk. :)

MonsteRawr said...

I'm the only woman at my job in a predominately male labor industry, and in a management position to boot, so I have to play up my masculine side. Some men, especially older men, tend to be a little uncomfortable with me at first, like they don't know how to act around me. So I swear, I tell dirty jokes, and I belch. It's my way of showing the guys that they're free to be themselves around me, because they can't possibly offend me!

PR Working Girl said...

haha, these are some great responses, i laughed when i read MonsteRawr's. showing my "bro" side via email is one thing, but in person, i'd never survive! like, i don't think i've ever burped a decent belch in my life.