This week: gender voices, people power, A-Plan apples and Christmas cookies

By Adrienne Robins

There’s been a lot going on these last few weeks, and there’s no sign of it letting up before Christmas.  

As you read this, we’ll be heading back to Birmingham for the REB Recycling End Markets Conference.  It feels like we’ve spent the summer, autumn and now winter waiting for clarification on what China will and won’t accept when it comes to UK recovered materials. So, it feels good to be thinking about alternative markets and taking back control. 

On a less positive note, it was disappointing to see the news about Marks & Spencer’s premium packaged apples encased in a PET cylinder just so that they can fit into a car cup holder. 

For a business that tells us so frequently that it’s doing as much as possible to further sustainability, this seems to be right off brand. I mean, we’ve managed all these years without putting apples in a cup holder! It’s no good telling us PET is widely recycled; all too often councils don’t collect it (and the market for post-consumer PET is challenging). So, don’t create packaging where it’s not needed M&S!  

Which brings me nicely onto the subject of people power. If we don’t like ridiculous packaging, all we need to do is buy a more sensible option. Normally I’d suggest that people are unlikely to make a purchase based on packaging, but with the ocean plastics issue highlighted all over the media, that may begin to change.  

Another area where people power could come to the fore in 2018 is under the GDPR data protection regulations. Did you know, under GDPR the admin cost for requesting to see your data record will be waived. There is a school of thought that says this will result in people making more requests to see the files that an organisation holds. And with those requests comes a requirement to supply the data within a month and a potential operations headache. Our advice – make sure your records are easy to manage. And if you’re an organisation that faces lots of opposition, recognise that this could be used as a weapon. 

Now, here’s something I came across on PR Week: a study that says that the majority of thought leader pieces are written in a ‘male’ voice and so are overly aggressive and not collaborative. Apparently, a more ‘female’ voice would be better in many instances.  

The thing is, I’ve been writing B2B thought leadership pieces for 30+ years. My writing style changes with the brief – but I’ve never thought of it in terms of male and female. Mainly it’s matter of fact. Attributing aggressive/dominant language to a male perspective and collaborative, persuasive styles to its female counterpart is, in itself, negative and contributes to the whole subliminal gender stereotyping that is still evident in many workplaces. It’s fine to say a more collaborative viewpoint would work – just don’t make it gender specific! 

To end, let me introduce you to some lovely Christmas cookies. We decided these made lovely client gifts this year. What do you think – and what have you been sending/receiving (ideas for 2018 please).