Reflections of moderator in stereotype mode

Tuesday, 17 September 2013, 20:43 | Category : General
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We’re delighted to welcome our September guest blogger, Bruce Dodworth. Bruce runs Sea Glass PR Ltd and has been a friend of The PR Network since 2006. Bruce is a generalist in the true sense of the word and splits his time between PR strategy and messaging work, presentation and pitch training, moderating/facilitating and advising large global PR agencies. Here, he’s musing on why we like to classify people, in life and in business…


Bruce New

“What business type are you?”

‘Cherish the differences in all of us’ was one of the core values of Hewlett Packard when I worked with them in the US in the 90’s. Tolerance and individualism are powerful messages. As marketers, however, we are much more interested in commonalities than differences. We are continually looking to lasso large groups and explore stereotypes so that our communications can have the broadest appeal and highest efficiency. Too much ‘slicing and dicing’ is costly and complicated.


This year I’ve been hired to moderate a series of exclusive ‘thought leadership’ dinners in London for 12 plus business executives at a time. Inevitably my mind has turned to comparing the attendees based on their profession, the focus of the dinner and their gender. Here are my casual observations based on ten different dinners – warning, ‘stereotyping’ is about to occur:

• Marketing execs drink the most alcohol and stay the latest – perhaps this isn’t a surprise? One dinner involving senior marketers was still going strong four hours after the official end-time! Marketers are also most likely to be ‘no shows’.
• CIO’s and COO’s are the most serious and reliable and are most likely to want to LinkIn afterwards
• Retailers are the most fashionable and likely to leave on time. Retail also seems a phenomenally small world with everyone knowing each other…..
• Women-only dinners are all excitement, empathy and energy but can be difficult to keep on track while all-male dinners involve a tonne of testosterone and can be gruff and stilted. A mix of genders is preferable in order to have the most inclusive, balanced conversations and enjoyable experience.
• Bosses are getting younger! There’s a school of thought that says 35-40 is the prime of our working life and that’s borne out by the age of many of the board-level attendees at the dinners. The exception seems to be in banking.
I have five further dinners this year and it’ll give me further chances to practice amateur cultural anthropology. There’s no ‘purpose’ to the groupings and observations. But it’s fun. I’ll be sure to report back on anything new!

Bruce can be contacted at Visit for info about his communications services.



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