Remember the ladies – VaynerMedia stumbles on gender

By: Margaret Ritsch, APR

The front page of the New York Times business section really woke me up this morning. The photo showed a dozen guys — all white, one Asian — around a long conference table at VaynerMedia, the fast-moving Manhattan agency owned by social media genius Gary Vanuchek.

No women in the photo? This is the year 2013, right?

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I got a fast response from Gary himself after tweeting about it. It seems the NYT photographer took a lot of photos that day. Gary was clearly upset — he explained his company’s top two executives are female and he sent me another company photo in which both women and men are jumping up and down in some sort of celebration.

It occurs to me that some good old-fashioned public relations might have been helpful to Gary and his firm during this important visit from the New York Times photographer (who, I noticed, was a guy).

Lesson #1
Stick with the photographer like white on rice. Make sure any photo that gets taken inside your company shows the picture you want the world to see. There’s no excuse in this day and age for 12 white guys to be sitting around a conference table, especially in a youthful industry like social media/digital. None.

Lesson #2
If you are uncomfortable “handling” the photographer because it feels too controlling, then let a public relations expert handle it. You have invested a lot in your company. You may not be able to control how the story turns out, or which photo runs, but you can supervise the photographer inside your company to make sure any images taken reflect well on your company.

Lesson #3
Finally, “remember the ladies.” We kind of don’t like it when all of a sudden we become invisible. Especially when we are doing so much of the work. “Remember, all men would be tyrants if they could,” wrote Abigail Adams in a letter to her husband, John, in 1776. “If particular care and attention is not paid to the ladies, we are determined to foment a rebellion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any laws in which we have no voice or representation ….”

It is likely that Gary Vaynerchuk and his company’s fortunes will continue to soar despite this mishandling of a superb news media opportunity. But the ladies inside that company may need some TLC, Gary. I’d say, a mani-pedi day might be a good start this week. Visibility and recognition would be the better reward.

Article by Margaret Ritsch, APR, TCU faculty director at Roxo, a student-driven agency for strategic communication. @ritschapr

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