Are sports events always a slam-dunk with tech journalists?

At the end of the year, at least one PR person will send us a pitch touting New Year’s resolutions for businesses, the first of which will be thinly veiled advice to Spend More Money on My Client’s Product.

In that vein, it’s only fair that we tech journalists get to offer some suggestions of resolutions for IT marketers and PR professionals in return.

First on my list – OK, the only one on my list, really — is the practice of always using sports events as a lure to get your client and tech writers in the same space.

I know I don’t represent the majority viewpoint on this, because the majority in tech journalism is still male. And even among many female tech journalists, there are worse things than being invited to a box at a sports event – like not being invited at all. But they’re not writing this, and I’ve talked to enough colleagues in the business to know that many of us dread these invitations.

It’s not even that all of us hate basketball or baseball or whatever sport is happening at the time (although some of us really do). It’s that some of us resent the fact that it says to us that business will continue to be conducted as it always has, despite its changing face – despite the increased number of women in the board rooms and the server rooms and the increased number of women making tech purchasing decisions.

Sports has long been THE metaphor for business, as has war, both of which are still, last time I checked, male bastions.

Everyone knows that in order to get anywhere in business, women may no longer necessarily have to sleep their way to the top – now they have to putt their way there. Even women who run their own successful businesses know that golf and business deals go hand in hand. Women who don’t golf don’t sign big deals.

The other issue is that it’s often unclear as to the purpose of the outing. It could be a product launch, a schmoozefest or just a good-will gesture with no strings attached, so it’s often difficult to judge the value of attending. But the long-term goal is probably to increase the visibility of a client among tech writers, thus increasing the likelihood of coverage. It would be interesting to hear from PR firms who regularly arrange such outings if that actually is the result.

I’m sure most PR firms who arrange these events don’t analyze them in such detail and the truth is you can’t please everyone all the time.

But unless you want to continue to — and excuse the expression — strike out with women journalists, you might want to consider alternate approaches to such events.

Kathleen Sibley is the editor of Technology in Government.

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