Bad Stock Photos of My Job: Digital Marketing / Startup Team Edition

Bad Stock Photos of My Job

Stock photos are historically bad. As a creative medium that businesses kind of have to use, they are just really… not good. Beyond the new wave of popular, free stock photo sites that actually don’t suck, there exists a world of terrible ones.

While normally we would hate to sift through a classic stock site, the trend of looking up your job (see: #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob) to see how it’s depicted REALLY caught our attention. It’s incredible the lack of awareness, zero nuance, and painfully wrong assessments of jobs in different fields that these stock photographers have.

And WHO is writing those descriptive captions? Good god.

To join in on the fun (and distract ourselves from the burning world for a few minutes), we decided to take a peek at just exactly how digital marketers and marketing professionals are shown.

Deep breaths. Here we go.

What are these? Why is she holding a giant clicker that doesn’t actually do anything? How is this a productive use of time? We have no idea what is happening here.

Bad Stock Photos of My Job

Description: Icon Symbol Communication Internet Digital Concept

We don’t review data often, but when we do the computer is facing the wrong way and we’re in a weird greenhouse-themed cafe.

Bad Stock Photos of My Job

Description: Business Team Meeting Brainstorming Working Concept

When the point is important, we always include it under a header called “Important Point”… also in the oddly-themed greenhouse cafe!

Bad Stock Photos of My Job

Description: Businessman Determine Ideas Writing Working Concept


Description: Group of people with devices in hands working together as symbol of networking and communication

For the love of god, leave your blazers, laptops, and computer chairs where they belong.

Description: Concept illustrating remote work, business woman with laptop and office chair on the beach

We honestly just can’t with all of this business wear on the beach…

Description: Businessman using laptop computer on tropical beach

I always wear a fedora to let my coworkers know that I am both cool AND relaxed in meetings.

Description: Start-up Team

WHY IS THIS GUY WEARING HEADPHONES? WHY? There is no teamwork happening here whatsoever.

Description: Group of young people employee workers with computer in startup studio – Human resource business and teamwork concept on laptop working time – Start up entrepreneurs at office – Teal and orange filter

I just love to intimately reflect on my professional field by staring at the wall.

Description: marketing strategy concept

Solid, very detail oriented plan. Thanks for the visual demonstration.

HEY EVERYONE, THIS IS THE STARTUP PLAN. First thing’s first, we wasted all of our money printing this banner…

Description: Start up Business Strategy Planning Concept

What are they doing with their hands? Why is he holding a pen like that?

Description: Start-up team with laptop celebrating their success

Follow #BadStockPhotosOfMyJob on Twitter for more, and be sure to tag us in your favorites for your job!

Why I Don’t Want to Be Called A ‘Woman In Tech’

We’re fighting until we break the societal idea that a man is a person and a woman is a woman.’  

In January of this year, I attended the EdTech Women’s conference at Microsoft in Vancouver – an event dedicated to discussing the three hottest topics in technology right now: women, tech, and education.

‘Just what is a Woman in Tech?’ and ‘why do you choose to be identified as such?’ were among the first significant questions put to the panelists (3 bo$$ing female CEOs and startup co-founders). This was when it hit me. I am a woman and I work with technology, yet I prefer not to call myself a ‘woman in tech’ (even though I am seemingly grouped as such).

The phrase ‘woman in tech’ has been brandished about these past years as a title loaded with promise and innovation. However, nowadays (as I realized at this event) with many pejorative and detrimental associations.

The Species of Homo Technologicus

During the Q&A, a keen male audience member asked the panel as to where they see a woman fitting in within such a male-centered industry. He rightly pointed out that men have created the majority of software due to the lack of females in the technology industry, and he wanted to know how they saw such virtual workspaces morphing with the introduction of women.

This question was stated in an agitated, concerned manner and carried an undeniably condescending tone.

The majority of women tittered around the room. It was clear we’d just had our first evening encounter of a stereotypical gender-insensitive homo technologicus. His style of thinking is exactly why I believe the title ‘Women in Tech’ is a false friend (and I’ll extrapolate this idea further below). To answer his question put to the panel in my own words: the only thing that will change is that there are females in the workspace. That’s all. Business acumen, innovation, strategy, general ability, will not digress and deplete.

Why Should Gender Make a Difference?

The title ‘Woman in Tech’ for this man (sufferer of h-t) clearly conjured up an underlying air of incapability – a sea of pink laptops, softly-designed web pages, and a lack of strong digital ‘know-how’ and ‘get-done’ mentality. It made him nervous, and it makes me nervous that he would think this way. This view, my tech friends (male and female), as we all know, is simply not true.

Let’s put this man straight. Females are not technologically inept or lacking compared to our male counterparts. Rather, at this present time, the focus is on women in the tech, science, research, business marketing, and engineering industries because we have finally been given the opportunity to ‘stretch our wings’ and exercise our right to our seat at the technical table. Hallelujah!

Is the ‘Women in Tech’ Movement a Big Deal?

It is.

The ‘Women in Tech’ movement got us through the door to this advancing industry and provided the opportunity for women worldwide to be accepted within the technological public sphere. It highlighted (and continues to highlight) the great gender inequalities within the technology industry itself, and fights to make previously male-dominated roles more gender inclusive and diversified.

However, does continually singling out actually add to that treatment of being outsiders in this industry? Something we’re specifically trying to avoid?

I could easily say yes to this question after listening to the leading panelists scrabbling around for a definition; quite rightly, as we’ve all NEVER needed to define it. Women in tech should not be treated differently at all. A woman in tech is not a woman who is out to subvert the way technology is progressing and indeed is not explicitly lacking in the technological know-how. However, such stereotypical thinking by females, women in tech, males, et al, can be detrimental, as Katie Womersely, a developer at Buffer, writes:

As a woman developer… I mentally check the female box and then proceed to be “in tech.” Identifying myself with a group stereotyped to be worse on average at technical tasks primes me to do worse when faced with a technical task. This can quickly lead to imposter syndrome and worse. The way around this for me was to downplay being a woman, and this meant not talking about diversity.’

‘The Stereotype Threat’ is a Real Thing

(*drops mic*)

My point is that I, and many others who consider themselves a ‘woman in tech’ have made the conscious decision not to accept the title. This is due to our preference for acceptance over appreciation. We are not a token novelty in this business and should not be treated as such. In addition, as we have seen above, such typecast, stereotypical thinking can also lead to some cases of weaker work performances and the potential to develop anxieties. For true progress to be made in the tech sphere, we should be developing as a gender-defying unit rather than engaging in ‘one-upmanship’ antics. We should be talking about belonging and not engaging in active separatism.

The ‘inclusive movement’ has begun, and now many women have earned their seat at the table, it’s no longer such a novelty. The key to holistic progression is through moving forward in technology as a collective, without singling out minorities and questioning intentions. We #techfem are here to stay, so let’s treat ourselves (and have others treat us) as such!

Do you consider yourself a ‘Woman in Tech’ or not? Do you want to express your opinions on the movement? Let’s start a conversation.

Just Stop It: How to Have Better Etiquette At Networking Events

‘Tis the season of parties, celebrations and within those are, of course, the most worrying part- networking. Around Christmas is the time to be jolly, and we’re not stopping that, but things can get a little too jolly in areas that can potentially lead to uncomfortable or unprofessional behaviors. Remember always to consider the crowd and be respectful!

So, a company has treated you to a lavish venue experience –  the way you enter and leave those parties is important because it could go downhill quickly. Don’t worry, we’re not pointing fingers here – we’ve had our fair share of networking mishaps! – but are merely sharing from our own learnings to guide you through these patchy events. Let’s discuss the things you could find at these events that have a higher potential to go wrong – the presentations… the drinks! The people you may find boring are all factors that can cause slip-ups. Here are some pointers to walk you through a smoothly attended networking event.

Research Key Attendees Beforehand

There’s usually a list of attendees running alongside the company which attendees are representing, pick out the ones most valuable and do some prior research. LinkedIn is the perfect way to scoop some information about individuals, it also won’t hurt to research the company, knowledge will impress!

Don’t Be Late

Not only is this completely embarrassing, for you and you only, you’ve instantly given the wrong impression. You will be ‘that’ person for the rest of the evening and will have a stigma attached to you that isn’t professional. You will also be giving an impression that the event isn’t important enough to be leaving enough time for travel, or even good enough to show when it starts.

Go In With a Purpose

There could be many reasons you decided to attend this certain event – socializing, looking for a new job, company representation or just to meet a few more clients. Murray Newlands seems to know how to do the job fairly well, “Before you arrive at an event, ask yourself what you’re hoping to achieve and what you need to do to achieve it.”

Take Notes

If there is a presentation given, take notes. If someone says something interesting, take notes. Even if you had a great conversation, and you can’t risk forgetting the highlight of it, take a note. These will be very valuable to the aftermath of your networking event, reflecting on what you gained from attending and even remembering everyone you met.

Silence Your Phone During Presentations

Calls and texts are distracting to you and the others around you, another huge brownnose potential that you can live without. We’re not suggesting to turn it off, because that would be irresponsible, you’re about to share contacts or LinkedIn profiles and pictures of your cat. Keep it on but be responsible.

To Drink Or Not to Drink

Now we’re talking about responsibility, it’s up to you how to play this drinking card. Will you be drinking? And if so, how much will you be drinking? HR professionals have reported findings of when drinking is acceptable:

  • 2% acceptable at a meal with a coworker
  • 4% acceptable at a meal during a job interview
  • 14% said that drinking alcohol at a work-related event was never acceptable

The decision can boil down to the nature of work and the type of networking event because you do not want to be the liability of the group. This also depends on the amount you can handle, what is your drunken personality? If its giddy and slurry then your consumption must be minimal. But if you start to see the straight and narrow after a few, then let’s see what happens.

Ask Good Questions

Your peers are all in the same room for one reason, that’s already a similar preference to base a conversation. People enjoy speaking about themselves, within 60 percent of conversations, people are talking about themselves. Ask about family, but by no means ask about specific members. There are plenty of good questions to ask, just make sure it’s the right person and the right time.

Don’t Be a Pusher

Nobody likes a pusher. You could be pushing a product or just yourself in a certain manner that could be quite annoying. Networking leads to results, but only with the correct approach. Keep some distance between you and the person you’re speaking with, keep a smooth tone and keep your responses short.

Connect Like a Puzzle

If you’re asking good questions, you’ll naturally draw good connections between you and the rest. Maybe there are two people who have the same target client, or you can help people along the way make a connection with another attendee. This is ideally the main goal to achieve at a networking event, encouragement will always make you shine.

Never Ditch a Conversation For Someone More “Important”

An automatic fail, but understandably a temptation. If you see an important person walk through that door, remain calm and interested, but start drawing the conversation to a close when the time is right. But just remember if you abruptly end the conversation to speak with someone, in your eyes is “better” – this is a networking embarrassment.

No Card Spamming Allowed

Be specific and selective. Firstly, you don’t want to get rid of all your cards before the end, or before you reach your ideal connection. But you also don’t want the client with the most potential to see the force within. If you feel there hasn’t been a big enough rapport with someone for them to ask for your card, don’t offer one!

Be Yourself

You may be jumping into a new partnership and you don’t want it to start on a lie. Be genuine, it will show. Authenticity throughout will build a strong connection between you and the other guest, and these are the relationships you want to be keeping.

Shake Hands

This is the best part of physical contact to round off a great conversation, and shaking hands has a complete list of rules in itself. Research has found that shaking hands with someone may increase chances of a positive interaction and certainly diminishes the impact of a negative impression. So make it worth it!

The best way to overcome these common faults is to plan ahead. If you struggle with maintaining a conversation or have some difficulty with selling yourself, then your purpose is way more advantageous when thoroughly thought out before. Speak to your friends or colleagues for some advice, and take these factors seriously, because with these factors in place, you have all the tools for success.

Being based in San Francisco, Barcelona, and London, you can find us attending many networking events across these locations this winter. Where will you be? Comment below if you think there’s one we shouldn’t miss!

Do Not Promote: Your Brand Can Wait, And Why It Should

Photo by Scott Heins

As a marketer, I try to be sensitive of time and place. In a variable state there is an appropriate moment, and visa versa. This week has worn us all out and emotions are high, so bear with me as I call out some frustrating behavior, on the corporate blog no less. There might be many of these pieces floating around the internet after this week, (and truly, I hope there are) but brand marketers and those who profit from promoted ads need to re-think their message at this time. Or best, turn it off.

In my own aftermath of discovery, and social media scrolling, finding out about the tragedies of Alton Sterling, Philando Castile, and the police shootings in Dallas, I was utterly dismayed at the lack of respect that brands, agencies and overall promoted social media platforms have in place for incidents of national crisis.

There is, at least at Oliver + Sons and at other agencies I’ve worked, an instinct among marketing teams to postpone and remain silent on social media during moments when people need news or comfort, or something other than consumerism and product updates. I would never want to associate a client with anything but total understanding of the humans that they serve. And sometimes that’s to be silent — for their own benefit, but mostly for the fact that we too are human and sifting through feed ads, promo emails and advertising are equally off-putting and insulting when all you want is to understand what happened and how to help.

I urge my marketing comrades to shut it all off. In the moments following intense breaking news, once I typically remove myself from personal shock, my first order is a call-off on all consumer-facing communication. This is not a time for flash sales, pandering blog posts or tweets about the next new thing.

This is a time to let your audience know you’re in the same moment with them, and it’s always better to say nothing than to sell anything.

If I could, I would make it mandate for social-posting outlets to have a Humane Voice Alert. Yes, I am talking to you; HubSpot, CoSchedule, Buffer, Twitter and Facebook Ads etc. Issue a warning to your larger brand marking teams – say, by way of an alert pop-up? – that maybe today might not be the best time to try to grab the sale, generate leads, or simply do business. With respect, if a brand or client wants to reach out in a different way with a message that sympathizes and consoles, I applaud and do my job. But a “Summertime Bonanza” will not be the message I ever send. And you can fire me on that.

Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP Elizabeth Conley/Houston Chronicle via AP

My clients are good people, their brands are personas. Treat your brand like a person you find on social media. There are deeper consequences of promoting a message that is tone-deaf to the culture it exists in. On the surface, there is the following fall-out, which is the easiest to see and the least problematic. Deeper down, there is a subliminal aversion to the brand identity, which affects the efforts, time and money of those working to make and sell your products. And finally, there is the desensitization of pushing an agenda without acknowledging the context of your consumers, which is both insulting to them and morally questionable.

I’m not saying don’t do your business. Let’s all go to work, but let’s not throw it in anyone’s’ face while they are mourning or protesting. The country, and your audience, needs collective consolation and reflection more than 20% off your goods and services. The definition of tragedy, and the way a crisis is handled by those with the megaphone, can be subjective. But, I think as marketers, we can tell when the tide has shifted from personal feeling to total crisis, and if you can’t then… well, I’m pretty sure this is not the job for you. There are no rules to this concept, but there should be gut-instinct and empathy.

Let’s call out these companies that are participating in the conversation for their own benefit and push larger platforms to take a moral issue with running a campaign without letting those advertisers know it is doing so in a time when social media is needed for the premise of which it was created: community over corporations.

Love over hate. Humans over consumers.

Marketers, Just Stop It: #467

In this installment of “crap we wish marketing professionals would just cease from doing”, we’re going to address the obvious blather that is The Email Subject Line. In our profession and task list, we are requested all of the time for amazing email campaigns. And we do ‘em… like whoa. Nonetheless, we recognize that newsletters can be tricky terrain to navigate. There are so many points to consider:

In our profession and task list, we are requested all of the time for amazing email campaigns. And we do ‘em… like whoa. Nonetheless, we recognize that newsletters can be tricky terrain to navigate. There are so many points to consider: template design, deployment service, module content, call-to-action, UTM links, email migration, database synching, tone of voice, graphics, etc etc (the list goes on and on)… BUT the one thing that really gets our goat is the simplest one of all: what to say to customers when that email first hits their inbox.

We’re of the ilk to clean out our inbox as frequently as possible. Meaning, we hit the “Inbox Zero” mark as much as we can, which also means that we cleanse spammy nonsense often. Since email is kinda our thing, we also are subscribed to a myriad of newsletters and communications that help us to stay inspired and see what works (and what doesn’t). On a recent Monday morning, there appeared not one, but three (3!) newsletters that led with the vomit-inducing “

On a recent Monday morning, there appeared not one, but three (3!) newsletters that led with the vomit-inducing “Spring Theme.” All of the eye rolls. Seasonal puns are for amateurs, but these were major brands, what kind of creative drought is going on here?

Okay, leading with seasonal changes can be a fair use case if you’re serving a fashion or lifestyle audience. And understandably, every tone and brand voice is different, so we get leaning on a more formal copy strategy versus tongue-and-cheek wordplay, but we just really want to do away with the painstakingly obvious holiday-leaching newsletter. Or, at least, pick some more interesting (read: unique) holidays to embrace. In fact, here’s a handy list. Pretty much anything to do with food tops our personal preferences, hint hint.

Alright, we’re done venting. See you in your inbox, kittens.