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Guest blog

Another guest post from my wife. However, unlike her previous post here, this one is not a commentary on anything I said - or at least, I hope not.

Ladies and gentlemen, my wife.

When I woke up a couple of days ago I never would have imagined that an essay penned by a 25 y-o actress would make me re-evaluate my working life so much. Inspiration really comes from the unlikeliest places.

Anyway, Jennifer Lawrence guest posted on Lena Dunham's The Lenny Letter, and since it was the first time she addressed the Sony Hack the whole internet was abuzz. (For those of you who lived under a rock for the past year or so, among what emerged from the Sony Hack was that Lawrence, despite being billed at the same level as her male co-stars, and despite being the only one with an Oscar under her belt, went to get paid a fraction of what her male co-stars did for her role on American Hustle, and probably had no knowledge of the disparity until it was uncovered by the leaked emails.)

J-Law went on to explain that she was over trying to tip-toe around men and trying to be adorable and funny and not appear a brat for asking what she wants. (if you want more, go subscribe to the Lenny Letter, I had to!).

Next thing I know, I follow a link that takes me to this article.

While being a very, VERY, lighthearted take on corporate and gender politics, this piece really resonated with me. You see, I am known to be a no-nonsense, straight to the point kind of girl in my work environment, definitely NOT what you would consider a shrinking violet. And yet. I realized some of the things described in that article had indeed happened to me, and, worse still, I had not understood they were happening.

Let me give you an example. A couple of years ago I was called into a meeting with two new guys to discuss a situation. Now, the situation had absolutely nothing to do with any of us, I was called since I had been the closest to observe it, and could probably explain some of the ins and outs to them, give them a little history, if you will. A male co-worker was with me, since he had helped me with some of the issues concerning this thing. This whole long preface is just to make you understand that I had no reason whatsoever to be 1. defensive, 2. angry, 3. aggressive since - once again - this had nothing to do with my performance, my objectives, my targets, my people. We had the meeting, I thought nothing more of it, and we went on with our own jobs. A year later, one of the two guys - whom I had got to know a little better in the meantime - let it slip that he thought I had been a terrible bitch during that meeting, and he was surprised I was so angry and aggressive towards them. This threw me for a loop. I had no intention of being aggressive and curt, I was surprised I had come off that way. I even went back to my male co-worker to ask him whether he thought I had gone over the line. (he said "you were fine", but then again, he's used to me, so who knows). This minor incident with a guy led me to re-evaluate how I deal with people everyday.

In the interest of full disclosure, this guy, the one who basically called me a terrifying bitch to my face, is also the one who always compliments me on my physical appearance, and is derogatory as f&%$ whenever in a professional context, despite not knowing or understanding anything about my job. I am so upset with myself, because, despite knowing all this I let it dictate my behaviour, and I let it get under my skin. A man would have never done that, never in a million years. It took Jennifer bloody Lawrence to open my eyes, go figure.

Social Reaction

I talked over the previous post with my wife at lunch, and she had a good perspective. Since I don’t do comments on my blog, she wrote them down and sent them to me by email.

Take it away:

While I understand your point and I think it comes from a good place, I cannot agree with your conclusions.

Yes, sponsoring a message with any kind of mistaken data (be it a logo, a price, or any kind of valuable consumer info) is a big "faux pas", especially coming from a big company, one that should have a working structure, and enough work force to enable that structure to talk through its various organisational changes.

Yes, not talking to each other is bad.

Yes, brand messages, and "content" at large, should be shaped by the people who know about it, and live and breathe it every day.

This is all very true, except that you seem to forget that packaging that message, and distributing it in the right way is just as important.

What is worse? getting a message that is not quite correct, or getting no message at all? I would argue they are both bad. So here's the deal: in my experience there are two sides to communication - one side is about the vision, and the other is about the execution. One side cannot thrive, or even function, without the other. In social media that means knowing your audience, targeting your readers, breaking down the message to suit different platforms, and also dealing with a lot of conceited people who think they can judge your work by the number of likes it gathers. Sounds familiar?

We have all been guilty of trivialising social media managers’ jobs, because the very concept of spending all your day on Facebook as a job is worth a laugh, while grumbling about our own jobs in communication being trivialised by others. Like those others were, we also happened to be mostly wrong. The message is a company's most valuable asset, but it needs to be packaged and delivered so that people can hear it and receive it and make it theirs, otherwise it is just as worthless as the wrong logo on a sponsored post.

If you have thoughts, you can find her on Twitter as @mrscwellington.

For my part, I agree with her qualification: I lumped content and delivery together, and criticised a situation where the delivery had actually worked pretty well, but the content had fallen down. As my wife cruelly and correctly noted, my own delivery is not that hot1 - Google Analytics says I got 105 unique visitors in the last month, which is about typical for this blog but not exactly setting the internet on fire.

I do think my main point stands: that the disconnect between the two aspects of social media is a problem, and can be taken as a symptom of a more general issue of barriers between different parts of an organisation that should be working much more closely together.

Since I still don’t have comments, if anyone else has thoughts, please hit us up on Twitter.

  1. My wife took mercy on my fragile male ego and refrained from commenting on the content here.