Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, is currently everywhere, talking about her big idea for America’s working women. Her new book, Lean In, is about “women, work and the will to lead.” Her advice? “Stop leaning back and lean in.”
With some clever and strategic PR, anticipation leading up to the book’s release yesterday had been building. Starting with the Sunday talk shows, Sandberg was in most of the weekend press, followed by ubiquitous appearances on morning radio and TV chat shows. Her message is that women have stalled in their climb upward because they “quietly lean back,” worrying about how they’ll manage family and work commitments sometimes years before the issue is relevant. Sandberg says, keep your foot on the pedal until you need to brake.
Not a new message, but it sounds fresh. There is no mention of the glass ceiling, instead, Sandberg prescribes different wording to give her readers another way to look at an old issue: When you lean back, you lose momentum. How about leaning in and seeing what happens?
THE PR VERDICT: ”A” (PR Perfect) for Sandberg’s repackaging of established material, making a punchy sound bite and media blitz.
THE PR TAKEAWAY: Old news can become new news. With a charismatic messenger and punchy sound bite, it is truly astonishing how much coverage and energy Sandberg has garnered for her new book. The secret: an elevator pitch that explains and instructs simultaneously. Sandberg’s message and the phrase “Lean in” is set to become part of the modern lexicon, as popular as Facebook’s “Friending.” Sandberg has given American women not only timely advice, but also a new way to describe (and solve) and old problem. Smart.