I’m not going to get involved in the recent PR bloggers’ spat about cliques, as I feel that would be, well cliquey. However, as Geoff Livingston chose to illustrate Clique This! with a picture from the movie, Heathers, I feel a need to talk about name associations.
There are times when I’ve been accused of being intimidating, but the only associations with my name when I was at school were with the flower not some schoolgirl bullies (fortunately). Today, we also have a character in Eastenders and the soon-to-be-ex Mrs Mills McCartney as “famous” Heathers.
Interestingly, I frequently get called Hazel, Helen, even Hayley, rather than my name. When I travel, Heather is a name that many people find hard to say, especially in France (where I’m called Hezzer) and Germany.
The Telegraph recently reviewed popular baby names in the UK (link credit: Judy Gombita), highlighting the Muslim trend for using Mohammed (or variations of) as a common firstname (with the child known by its subsequent name).
Looking at the Top 10 list for 2006,most of the names have echoes of the Victorian period. Although my maternal grandparents’ names (they were born at the start of the 20th century) haven’t made a comeback (that’s Wilf and Ivy).
Our name is part of a personal brand, carrying with it various associations. These could influence the way that others react to us from a young age.
The Telegraph looks at the way babies’ names are affected by “the cult of celebrity” – with 38 tots called Cruz (after David Beckham’s third child) and 14 Peaches (after the daughter of Bob Geldof). It is hard to imagine that, as adults, these children won’t have some embarrassment about their monikers.
Undoubtedly, we all stereotype people by their names – especially before we’ve met them. A recent email exchange between the CIPR Diploma class at Reading, included the tutor’s observation on media views of PR fluffies:
I was talking to a national journo friend who was berating London PR agencies – they seem to have all fogged within his brain and he referred to a made up organisation where he spoke with “Lucinda of Chew Mine PR”. He feels that all agency PROs have unlikely first names like Porsche or Persephone and they are representing ‘ridiculous ‘companies with names like ‘wild monkey’ and ‘red fish squared’ – why would he take these guys seriously? Could it be that the PR industry is still misrepresenting itself?…But why?
So do I need to start a PR campaign for better representation of Heathers? Or should PR industry bodies investigate whether the industry needs an injection of serious folk called Joan or Mary (or is that a stereotype too)? What do you think about “trendy” agency names? Can I be taken seriously with the “greenbanana” concept? Are these labels really that important?