Who’d be a naturist PR woman? Well – I’ve worked in PR in the past. My job was to represent a controversial organisation, which plenty of people had negative feelings about.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
Back then, I liked the organisation, so I found the negative people annoying. First, I had to get over that, and understand how they felt. Where did their bad opinions come from? You have to know before you can challenge them. And the challenge should be made without antagonising anyone. Never tell someone straight out that they’re wrong, even if you think they are. Once they’re bristling with anger or feeling insulted, they’ll never listen.
Sometimes it was tricky – but one thing I had was confidence. I believed in the organisation. I also knew plenty about it, not just what it does now, but what it’s done in the past. If anyone took me on, I could come back not just with opinions but also with facts. ‘Well now, I hear your views” I would say, ‘but I’d like to point out…’ then I’d give them a different take.
So in the last few weeks, I’ve been helping my naturist club with a re-brand. This time, though, the confidence is missing. I understand very little about naturism. Debates and discussions go on within the community. People hold differing views with passion. All this is great– the engagement shows that the topic’s alive and that everyone cares. When you don’t know much yourself, however, it’s not at all clear to you where you should stand.
But I’ve realised my use to the PR team is just not having a clue.
I don’t recommend this approach in job interviews. Here, my know-nothing helps. I get how the naturist scene looks to people outside. I also know why it appealed to me. I’m fresh eyes – and that makes me helpful.
I believe that I’m part of a cultural moment: a lot of folk looking at naturism, seeing something they’d like to be part of. But they can’t quite say why: the thing that they want has no name. So I’m reaching for terms like ‘identity’, ‘authenticity’, ‘exploration’, to try to capture it for them.
To sum it all up – if it’s one thing, it’s this:
Look in the media – newspapers, movies, TV – from thirty or forty years back. What you’ll see straight away, with your sleek modern eyes, is that everything looked so much rougher back then. Not every actor or front man or woman is a hunk or a big screen beauty. Sure, everyone’s thinner (that’s due to changes there’s been to our food and to how much it costs) but not every body is gym-ripped and toned. Not everything shines.
Maybe it all just became too shiny. What we want is beneath all the gloss: we want to experience ourselves, as we are, before we were made to perform our own lives and be perfect. That’s not the way we experience living them.
Naturism keeps it real. Now – if we could just find a marketing slogan to say so.
Photo by c paras, used under Creative Commons licence.