Are Men Whose Wives Keep Their Maiden Names Wimps?

Years ago, I heard media trainer Joel Roberts say that if you want to get onto a big radio talk show, your chances skyrocket if you have a juicy topic that riles up listeners.

The idea must be so controversial or compelling that a motorist who listens to the show while driving gets angry enough that he pulls over to the side of the road, whips out his phone and calls the station to comment on the air.

I thought of Joel’s advice when I saw the results of a recent study from the University of Nevada in which researchers found that whenever a husband’s last name differed from that of his wife’s, he was frequently described in ways that both de-emphasized his masculinity and overemphasized any feminine characteristics. (I’ve even heard a few people refer to these guys as wimps.) The results were published earlier this month in the Sex Roles journal. 

Right now, I can see lots of women motorists on that same busy highway pulling out their phones to call the station. They’re the ones who decided to keep their maiden names. But they aren’t even pulling over.  They’re going 70 miles an hour while dialing.

Why This Story Almost Guarantees Publicity 

I love this story for so many reasons:

  • Women who have chosen to keep their own names will want to explain why. And a husband might want to defend himself and his wife’s good judgment to keep her maiden name.
  • It piggybacks off a news story, in this case, a legitimate study—three studies on the same topic, actually. 
  • Most of us know a woman who chose to keep her maiden name. It could be a sister, a best friend or a former college roommate. And many of us would fight to the end to support her, even on the radio!
  • Men and women on the other side of the argument, in favor of the time-honored tradition of the woman taking the husband’s name, would want to weigh in, too.
  • Women might want to comment on why they think it was a mistake to their take their husband’s name or keep their maiden name. 

10 Ways to Newsjack This Story for Publicity 

Consider these ideas for piggybacking onto this story or claiming it as part of your own, also known as newsjacking, the term coined by PR pro David Meerman Scott. 

  1. Radio is my Number One choice for this story. Call your local NPR station or your favorite drive-time talk show. 
  2. TV is my second favorite, especially if you can find married couples on each side of the topic to be part of the story and comment on camera.
  3. How about taking a Facebook poll and encouraging your friends and followers to share the poll and the results? You’ll find Facebook groups galore, filled with people who would be interested in this topic.
  4. Authors, speakers and experts whose books are on topics such as romance, weddings, gender issues and dating should offer themselves as sources for local and national media.
  5. Marriage counselors and therapists, this one is perfect for you. 
  6. Don’t forget podcasts where you’d make a great guest. Refer to the iTunes podcast directory. 
  7. Write a guest blog post for a high-traffic blog. Take a strong stand on either side of this controversial topics. See “From HBR to Mashable: How to be a Guest Writer on 11 Popular Sites.”
  8.  If you write an article for your own blog, post it to your LinkedIn profile and share it with relevant LinkedIn groups. 
  9. People love lists. Compile a list of the most famous celebrities who have taken their husband’s name. How many are still married?   
  10. Do a Google search for media outlets that have covered this story. Write a letter to the editor or offer an opinion column. 

If you’re going after traditional media, it’s a good idea to offer some “extras” along with your pitch. Those include statistics, experts who are willing to comment on the opposite side of the position you’re taking, and other people such as marriage counsel0rs who can help create an entire segment.

Those are my ideas. Let’s hear yours. The comments section awaits….

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Comments (6)
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  • Terri Henry

    As one of those women that kept her last name both times I married (1987 and 2011), I think we need to get rid of the term “maiden” name. Let’s go with “birth name”.

    • Joan Stewart

      Terry, in stories reporting on the results of this survey, I’ve seen it referred to both ways. Thanks for stopping by.

  • Wayne

    I love this story Joan – and I’m going to borrow it from your blog and talk about it on my radio show tomorrow!

    • Joan Stewart

      You know, of course, that the sparks will be flying! And definitely use the word “wimp,” as unfair as that is. Can you come back here, Wayne, and let us know how the show went?

      • Wayne

        Used it this morning and had listeners asking if this was from the stone ages? LOL

        Someone else said it’s weird to even change your name in 2017 especially with all the divorce.

        And finally someone else asked if there aren’t more important issues that we should be excited about.
        No men called to defend it.

        • Joan Stewart

          Thanks for the follow-up, Wayne. Who cares if you don’t talk about “more important issues,” many of which are boring. This is a fun one!