Don’t come around here no more

NS March 10th, 2010

Hey, PR people! Yes, you over there, and there; the ones who email me every day, multiple times a day, with varying ‘offers’ or ‘opportunities’ for me to help you peddle your crap, for nothing in return but a warm, fuzzy, virtual hug from you — the middleman, the pusher, as it were — of said crap.

If you cannot be bothered to read through my blog (and by read, I mean past my last two posts) and discover that I, a raging feminist, socialist-verging-on-communist and mother who subscribes to the benign neglect mode of parenting, would probably NOT be interested in helping you sell ‘sexy’ lingerie, or formula made by a notorious WHO code violator, or what I believe to be [added so as to protect myself from libel] a ridiculous, unnecessary, wasteful and overpriced item like this one, aimed at pregnant women and with marketing designed to prey on new parents’ insecurities, I reserve my right to roll my eyes and delete your email, at best. If you catch me on a bad day, you may get a civil but curt reply instead of a deletion.

If you ask me to put a promotional link on my website and I send back my (tongue-in-cheek) fee schedule and an outline of my terms and conditions, I won’t expect to hear from you again, if previous experience is anything to go by. If you then forget you emailed me about it already and re- send the original ask again, with the same form letter, I reserve the right to not only reply a little rudely but also to request that you remove me from your list of potential suckers bloggers who will promote your item or company for little to nothing in return.

And if you send me something which, if you’d actually taken the time to have  a nose through my archives, even just from the past week, you’d know that there’s no way in HELL I would help you promote a blog for a site that has to ‘dumb it down’ for the ladies by making the new blog, like, all fabulous and pink and written only by women in the company (plus one dude, of course, because women can’t operate without at least ONE man in charge somewhere). Here is the press release they thought would win me over (bolding mine):

F-Secure, the leading Internet security company, is launching a new blog geared towards everyday computer users called ‘Safe and Savvy’. This blog is for anyone interested in staying safe online, practicing smarter social networking and protecting irreplaceable content. The bloggers are ladies who play crucial roles throughout the company.

Since its launch in the beginning of 2004, F-Secure’s first blog, ‘News from the Lab’ has garnered a loyal following of information security experts. It is now the go-to source for news and analysis from the world of cyber crime and security.

The new ‘Safe and Savvy’ blog aims to be less technical, more practical and conversational, offering computer users easy-to-digest information on how to stay safe while surfing the web. The posts will include useful tips and advice for social media, shopping or banking online, and protecting valuable content such as digital photos.

Therese Cedercreutz, director of direct business and marketing explains: “Cyber security is often discussed in very technical terms. At F-Secure we have a number of savvy ladies who are well versed in how to keep your content, yourself and your loved ones safe in the online world, and who can talk about it in an easy-to-understand, non-technical way. On Safe and Savvy we hope to give helpful tips and have discussions with our readers so they can steer clear of the pitfalls and enjoy their time on the web.”

The bloggers on Safe and Savvy are F-Secure employees from all parts of the company. Each blogger has a different skill set and expertise, ranging from detailed technical knowledge through to a solid understanding of security issues. However, all are passionate to share their knowledge on online safety, based on both personal and professional experience. And all of the bloggers are women (except for Jason).

K, Imma break it down for you, F-Secure. Let me tell you, since you obviously have no idea (or do you?), of how insultingly this reads, to this woman at least.

If this blog is for ‘anyone’ then why all the constant references to the “ladies?” Can you honestly tell me that with your approach to the mummy blogger market, your pretty pink website and constant references to the all-female staff making everything simpler for us that you were also targeting men (who are presumed to be less likely in need of ‘explaining’ and more able to keep up with the ‘other’ blog which is all techy)? If you can say yes with a straight face then more power to you, ’cause I couldn’t. In fact, I think both my eye and my lip twitched.

I find it incredibly telling that you chose an all-female staff to be responsible for writing this ‘easier to understand, simpler’ blog. If you truly wanted to create a more consumer-friendly site, for all of your users, why go to all the trouble of assembling “the ladies” from your company? If the other, techy blog is (presumably) written by all men, or a mixture of men and women, then why not just have the same people write the simpler blog too? Is it because they are too busy and important to waste time explaining things to the thick-o clients who don’t know all the latest online security lingo and technology? Or is it just that women are better ‘communicators’ and so you thought leaving them to soothe the idiots’ fears would be best? It’s an insult to not only your customers but your employees as well. Cherry-picking a bunch of vaginas (no pun intended — well, maybe a little) from around the office, regardless of their expertise, to run the There Is No Simpler Way To Explain This Shit To You blog is not really making me all warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t inherently trust or understand something more just because it was written by a woman and looks like a flamingo threw up on it.

This disparity was perfectly illustrated when I clicked through to Safe and Savvy (much to my chagrin) and saw this gem:

“Even though we work for some very serious security experts [with a link here to a picture of an office full of what appear to be men at computers], we promise not to get too techy on you.”

Um, excuse me but

Don’t even get me started on the need for ‘Jason’ to be trotted out as the lone male, the one reassurance for those doubtful that a collection of ovaries could talk about technology shit without getting it all wrong. And the thing is, I bet he’s chided and congratulated at the office for being ‘brave’ enough to work with all that oestrogen, oohed and aahed over for his authoritative presence on the boobie blog. Odds are 5-1 that he is a mansplainer of the highest degree, or at least his boss is.

So, PR agency for F-Secure, you wanted to know if I’d mention Safe and Savvy on my blog? I just did.

Photo credit

42 Responses to “Don’t come around here no more”

  1. Fooking brilliant. Your post that is. Not that friggin site.

    Oh and SS I have a degree in ICT and management, sit on the advisory council for the advancement of IT in Education, have a vagina AND have a Jason in my office too. So there!

    NS Reply:

    @Claire (The Bump Wear Project), You have a Jason too?! I hope he’s able to keep the ladies reined in. ;)

  2. I haven’t enjoyed reading a blog post so much in ages! I think you have spoken for many, many people, and said what many are too shy/afraid/squeamish to say.

    NS Reply:

    @Jane @ Online Mum, Shy and squeamish I’m not! Now, tactful and placid? That’s a different matter entirely.

  3. Emily O says:

    Very, very funny. They picked the wrong person to send that one to! If you continue to get any more approaches after this post then it demonstrates how clueless they really are. I had an offer today for ‘guest bloggers’ to pay to post on my blog and add in a few of their own links. I get to approve all copy apparently. No doubt most people have received this offer. I haven’t replied yet, but I think it might contain the question ‘er, do you acutally know what a blog is?’

    NS Reply:

    @Emily O, Ick, I got that one too. I think it was spam.

  4. Katherine says:

    I’ve worked in tech fields (not any more, thank goodness) and this was always the thing that annoyed me the most: the assumption that I wasn’t as good as a man, because woman can’t be good at technology, can they? (I have to say, though, that women who pull the “I can’t do it, I’m a woman” thing are doing their gender a disservice.)
    They’ve got this one wrong. Really wrong. I hope it backfires nicely on them.

    NS Reply:

    @Katherine, I can imagine how difficult it must be for the already small group of women in technology fields to feel their skills and expertise are being taken seriously. Agree about women who don’t think they should/can do things because of their gender, though I think in some situations social conditioning wins out over common sense.

  5. Mette says:

    brilliant post!! you’re such an amazing writer and I love it when you’re angry. I really, really hope the F-secure people read this and blush.

    And I almost choked on my tea when I saw that in-utero sound system…no way I would walk my dog (if I had one) with that thing strapped to my stomach. Mette

    NS Reply:

    @Mette, Yeah, the in-utero boom box really had me laughing. Can you imagine wearing that thing in public? As if pregnant women don’t get enough unsolicited comments already.

  6. nicola says:

    There is no way on this earth I would ever want to cross you when you have a bee in your bonnet!!! Fantastic post – you are f*cking spot on, as usual. This sort of promotional clap trap is so patronising it makes me speechless. Luckily for all of us, it doesn’t have the same effect on you.

    NS Reply:

    @nicola, Ha! Yes, when I get a bee in my bonnet, a whole swarm tends to arrive very quickly. Thankfully I’m able to let them fly back out relatively quickly, after the rant is over, or I’d be hyped up all the time.

  7. geekymummy says:

    Oh my god! Don’t you just hate being called “Ladies”.

    What a bizzare statement “And all of the bloggers are women (except for Jason).” I wanted to add “Except for Jason, who is biologically male but a bit of a sissy who likes to wear thong underwear, high heels and watch Desperate housewives”

    NS Reply:

    @geekymummy, LOL! Actually, there was a little ‘About’ section where you could read a brief bio of each blogger and Jason’s was the only one that talked at length about his past jobs and how awesome and knowledgeable he is. The ‘ladies’ just described their current roles and perhaps a personal interest or two. I was not surprised at all.

  8. Spilt Milk says:

    Just this morning I got an email from someone promoting a pregnancy site who was looking for ‘cross promotion’. I clicked on the site – the first article I found was about, gasp!, how to avoid having a ‘Fat baby’! I couldn’t resist a snide reply to that one, although just hitting delete would probably have wasted less of my time.

    NS Reply:

    @Spilt Milk, Oh dear god, that sounds horrendous. I’m glad you replied, and snidely at that! I usually delete but every once in awhile I have to get things off my chest.

  9. Capital Mom says:

    I can’t believe you managed to work whatcha talking about Willis into a post! That is awesome.

    Can’t wait to hear if F-secure responds to the post. Because if they aren’t monitoring what people say about them they should be. :-)

    NS Reply:

    @Capital Mom, I was quite chuffed with the Willis reference too. :D

    I debated on whether to use their names or not and wasn’t going to initially but then thought I’d better name the company if I was going to be quoting their press release.

  10. Potty Mummy says:

    I got that too – can I just direct them to your response?

    NS Reply:

    @Potty Mummy, Certainly. I wouldn’t want you to waste an hour of your life writing a blog post like I did.

  11. Nova says:

    Great rant, I am seeing things oh so differently since discovering your blog!

    NS Reply:

    @Nova, I hope that doesn’t mean you’ve started going round clocking people! I’m angry but luckily I’m also a pacifist. ;)

  12. Erin says:

    Great post. How patronizing that email is!

    NS Reply:

    @Erin, Glad someone else thought so! I imagine others will be like “What’s the big deal?”

  13. I got that too – the pregnancy one that is. Nearly spat my coffee out over my keyboard with disgust. Might direct them here to have a read as well. Can’t believe these people get paid to write this stuff. Thanks for cheering me up!

    NS Reply:

    @Brit In Bosnia, You’re welcome! It does make me wonder if they’re piss-takes sometimes. Hmm, that’s given me an idea for another post…

  14. andrew b says:

    Although this gives good fuel for a blog entry, which was fun to read, I do think you are reading too much into it.

    To my mind the ladies team is just a publicity device rather than a comment on male/female capabilities.

    I hate everything about PR, but I think that if the company is generating publicity from this, such as your post, it sadly proves that PR has a place in business.

    NS Reply:

    @andrew b, Hey, look everybody, a mansplainer! Thank goodness Andrew is here to tell us ‘ladies’ how we should feel and read things. Next thing you know he’ll be telling me to “relax.” Bwwahahaha!

    FYI: I never said that PR has no place in business, they just have a duty to try not to approach people who may be hostile to their cause or product. It’s called common sense and they haz got none of it in this instance.

  15. Laughed my pretty little arse off at that. Actually I have never heard of ‘benign neglect mode of parenting’ but having read that article I realise I am a fully signed up member.

    Well done, I so hope they take the time and trouble to read your response. xx

    NS Reply:

    @Very Bored Housewife, Welcome to the club! It’s very freeing down here, in the parenting pit. :)

  16. Natalie says:

    I’m sniggering a lot because back in the old days (time before kids), F-Secure was one of my clients. This post is hilarious and one of the best I’ve read for a long time. Unfortunately that site goes to show why women are often grossly misunderstood by marketers, not least because they persist in trying to pigeonhole and make silly assumptions that undermine us and make them look like numpty’s whilst alienating us.

    NS Reply:

    @Natalie, Oh, but Natalie, you could’ve been one of the lucky ones to write the Not Scary or Technical At All, Just For The Ladies blog if you’d continued working with them! What a shame. ;)

    You’re so right about how wrong some companies get it. This kind of shit is not what we mean when we say to be more inclusive of women.

  17. jen says:

    wow, I’m impressed you managed to wrap your pink little pea-sized brain around all that. the Noble Husband mustve helped!

    F-Secure sound like they F’n-Suck

    NS Reply:

    @jen, Yes, I did have to ask him to read it out to me, very slowly, to make sure I understood all the bits that weren’t bolded in pink. F-Secure do indeed F’n SUCK, I love it!

  18. Oh dear. Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    And does it ever occur to them that there are plenty of non-technical ‘gentlemen’ out there who could do with non-patronising, useful advice?

    NS Reply:

    @Dad Who Writes, Exactly. I’m not against them creating a more user-friendly site with less technical jargon or what have you, but the way it was blatantly aimed towards women is just downright wrong.

  19. I loves you. That is all.

    Oh, would you like some cherry liquorice instead? I think I have a pitch for that around somewhere. Completely inoffensive AND it’s organic.


    NS Reply:

    @Josie @Sleep is for the Weak, Unfortunately, I hate liquorice almost as much as douchey companies that try to tell me I’m dumb. So that’s a no. :D

  20. Iota says:

    Headphones for an embryo. Yup, that is playing on people’s gullibility. (But then there were things that I chortled over hugely with a friend when I was expecting my 3rd and she her 4th, and guess what, they’re mainstream now.)

    I nearly got a PR company to pay my travel expenses to a opinion-gathering seminar in London, but bother it, they spotted at the last minute where I live.

  21. Fantastic – I for one am trying to reword my site to avoid the ‘Mummy Blogger’ stigma and to be taken seriously as a blogger who is balancing a multitude of roles one of which is Mummy and one of which is senior exec

    NS Reply:

    @Muddling Along Mummy, Me too. I know exactly what you mean. It’s really frustrating being pigeonholed.

  22. [...] I’m sick and tired of email after email from PR agencies who want me to help them sell their shitty ideas and products, for nothing in return. I’m tired of feeling stretched thin, taken advantage of [...]