L to R: PR Edge strategist Julia Loughlin, clinical psychologist Deborah Newburn and PR Edge MD Fee Townshend.
PR Edge is looking to tackle issues of gender inequality in the wider world with the launch of ‘Rosie’, a division dedicated to creating societal change in the way women are treated and depicted.
Fee Townshend, managing director PR Edge, told Mumbrella the agency wants to be part of a societal shift
towards more equality for women.
“We want to be part of societal change, that shift and that understanding,” Townshend said. “Being part of the solution is what drives me.”
The division’s name is inspired by J. Howard Millar’s World War II “We can do it!” poster which features ‘Rosie the Riveter’, a woman with her shirt sleeves rolled up, flexing her muscles who represented the women who worked in factories during the war.
“A lot of agencies, particularly the ad agencies, are focusing on digital and technological changes. For PR it makes sense to think about what’s happening in society and how you can innovate in that space,” Townshend said.
“For me, as a working woman and a working single mum, it’s a really busy lifestyle, so issues of gender inequality have always been really close to home.
“Increasingly in the media, traditional or social, they’re talking about issues that centre around issues of gender inequality a lot more.
“You’re seeing stories about pay gap, stories around the way women are treated in society. There’s also issues around family violence.”
Townshend admits there are issues of gender inequality in the communications industry but that the issue is Australia wide.
“Without a doubt there are issues within our industry, as there are in many, many others but as a whole Australian society has this issue and it can be very divisive because people aren’t necessarily educated and afraid of change,” she said.
“The fact that you can’t open a newspaper without coming across these issues on a regular basis, I felt it was something going to be increasingly important to talk about, and increasingly of interest to our clients regardless of what type of business they are.”
Townshend: “Being part of the solution is what drives me”
Townshend is confident PR has a role in helping create a shift in society around issues of gender inequality, however she admits the division needs specialist support.
“Our offering will be supported by a network of field experts – strong female influencers and spokespeople who will provide consulting advice across key feminist issues, such as body image, workplace inequality, family violence and global issues.”
This network includes the specialist skills of clinical psychologists, lobbyists and well-respected feminists, who will be actively involved in campaign strategy planning to ensure work addresses issues in the right way.
When asked if PR Edge was looking to generate revenue with ‘Rosie’, Townshend said it would operate like any agency.
“It will generate revenue and support pro bono.We want to get that balanced success rate of some pro bono work but also getting our clients to take some of this on board.
“There’s lots of businesses that are keen to talk on this issue,” she said. “There are definitely brands that know this is an issue to be addressed.”
Townshend cited the ANZ Bank’s #equalfuture campaign which launched in July 2015 as an example.
Wrights PR’s Julia Loughlin is joining PR Edge to lead to the division.
“I’m energised by the opportunity to combine my passion for gender equality with my interests in communications and business strategy”, Loughlin said in statement.
“I have enormous respect for PR Edge and this new division speaks volumes about the agency’s values and the significant impact it aims to make beyond the bottom line. I’m thrilled to play a role in helping bring the vision of Rosie to life.”