I'm pretty sure I've never met Marian Salzman, the CEO of Havas North America. But, I dig her.
That's because, as far as I know, Marian's the first holding company CEO with the guts to go on record to state what's wrong with the public relations industry.
In a recent Holmes Report, Salzman said what I've been saying for years: “America's PR industry is too feminized and too politically correct.”
Of course, Salzman's remarks were specifically aimed at the non-event that is the Cannes Lions Awards competition. But, even so, she's won my heart.
Salzman believes PR did so poorly in this “creativity for the sake of creativity” awards program because the best campaigns (and she cites her own holding company's Australian appendage as an example), “exude a great masculine energy, something we're sadly missing over here.” (meaning the good, old U.S. of A.).
And, get this, Salzman said she believes, "…The American PR industry has become so feminized and so politically correct that I worry where the edge has gone. We've institutionalized all the hot shops, softened their edges and finishing- schooled the brashness right out of them."
To which I say, “You go girl!”
I've long been worried about the near-complete domination of PR by women. The last time I checked, 78 percent of PR practitioners are female (and predominantly white).
That spells trouble for any field trying to produce relevant campaigns for an increasingly diverse population.
I'm especially pleased to see Salzman take on the PR PC police.
I blame the industry trade publications for sanitizing PR. One need only read the cover stories of our leading trade journal to see what Salzman means. One would think the featured executives were latter-day versions of Albert Einstein, Mother Theresa and Mahatma Gandhi rolled into one.
And, unlike advertising journals, our trades lead readers to believe everything is sunshine and roses in PR. There's no controversy, no scandal and, to be blunt, no investigative reportage whatsoever.
As a result, we celebrate the bland and banal, and ignore the very real problem that homogenization will cause PR.
Were I a chief marketing officer looking for an edgy, irreverent campaign to reach an increasingly influential demographic, I wouldn't choose a PR firm. That's because the odds are good the most likely all-white, all-female team will produce a feel-good, all's well program that Salzman would agree won't move the sales needle or impress the Cannes Lion judges.
I'm hoping Salzman's holding company power position will finally wake up the PR powers that be and that they (we) finally begin having adult conversations about the dangers feminization and political correctness pose to our industry.