A male PR industry saying it can't understand women as an audience isn't good enough in 2017

Adrian Pettett's piece in PRWeek on gender diversity in sports PR raised some important points.

Tackling diversity is like a velociraptor attack in Jurassic Park, argues Emma Wright
Tackling diversity is like a velociraptor attack in Jurassic Park, argues Emma Wright

But here's the thing with diversity in any industry, including our own. It’s like a velociraptor attack in Jurassic Park.

You catch sight of the raptor, you stare at it and it stares right back. That's when the attack comes - not from the raptor in front, but from the other raptors you didn't even know were there.

Because gender diversity in sports PR is a problem; a big, snarling velociraptor of a problem that is right in front of us right now.

But so is racial diversity. So is LGBT representation. So is the average age of most PR agencies. And these are also big dangerous velociraptors who are lurking in the background.

So what can we do?

First of all, I would suggest it's incorrect to think that as an industry we are incapable of understanding the experiences of people who do not exactly fit our own demographic profile.

As a woman working in sports PR, I have worked on campaigns whose audiences are specified as "predominantly male, age 16-24".

I've also worked on campaigns targeting parents and, guess what: I am not a parent, nor am I male, nor am I age 16.

I've taken the time to understand these audiences by using mapping tools rather than extrapolating my own experience as the basis of a campaign.

We also need to understand audiences based on behaviours, not just make assumptions based on demographics.

In terms of how I consume sport, I have more in common with the guy who sits next to me at Selhurst Park than a female colleague who runs a London run club.

I spend match days glued to Twitter, she spends running meets carefully curating for Instagram.

But in terms of the most commonly used data fields of age, gender, and interest in sports many marketers would think of us as the same.

In terms of the diversity of the people who make up our industry, well, it's not going to be fixed overnight.

But it can be fixed and by looking at where we find our talent: internships arranged through youth groups and sporting charities, PR professionals from different sectors, sports professionals from other disciplines.

We've all worked on campaigns designed to increase accessibility into sport participation; let's do the same with our own houses.

None of this is designed to downplay the issue of gender diversity in sports PR. It needs addressing, along with all issues of diversity in the industry.

In the meantime, let's use all the tools in our armoury to understand audiences better.

A predominantly male PR industry saying they can't possibly understand women as an audience just isn't good enough in 2017.

Let's commit to a deeper understanding of our audiences and new talent with fresh perspectives.

After all, if velociraptors can learn to open doors, surely PR can.

Emma Wright is an account director at Hill+Knowlton Strategies

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