Slaughter’s “Can’t Have It All” Doesn’t Include All

atlantic Slaughters Cant Have It All Doesnt Include All

The PR Verdict: “B” for The Atlantic and Anne-Marie Slaughter.

Has anyone NOT heard about this month’s cover story of The Atlantic? Anne-Marie Slaughter of Princeton University, former foreign policy adviser to Hilary Clinton, has written a lengthy cover story pessimistically entitled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.”  The article has had over 1,000, 000 hits within a week and kick-started a blizzard of discussions on the morning shows and online.

Several “A” list women have been booked to opine on the article. CBS had Sallie Krawcheck talking about her role as one of Wall Street’s heavy hitters at Bank of America. MSNBC had Gillian Tett, U.S. editor of the Financial Times. Slaughter herself has done the rounds, talking about her time at the State department and her luck in having a husband who worked in academia and therefore had more flexibility when it came to sharing childcare duties.

Slaughter’s message includes a rethinking of work practices and work/life balance. It’s not a new message, but it has caught fire. The wrinkle in her PR push? This has been almost exclusively an “A list ” discussion among women with truly impressive careers. Slaughter better be ready for the follow-up conversation concerning women who work to make the rent, and who haven’t the luxury of loftier ideals.

The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Slaughter and her article that provoked huge media discussion. Sometimes an article taps into the zeitgeist; this seems to be one of them.

PR Takeaway: Head off a backlash early in the PR process. While Slaughter has captured the limelight in part due to her impressive career credentials, she misses out on a full mark as the conversation and PR positioning seem almost exclusively directed toward “A list” women. Slaughter might want to start preparing for the (inevitable) backlash. During the chat show rounds, vary the message by including women who don’t run the IMF or work at the State Department. Sometimes work is less about personal fulfillment and more about economic necessity.

Given the current economic situation, is Slaughter’s message on target or off-base? And should she prepare for a backlash after the initial blizzard of publicity? Give us your PR Verdict, below.






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What is Your PR Verdict?

  1. Paul Marrone says:

    Women such as Ms. Slaughter spark the conversation and she has achieved it. Long running debate but there is a difference in the lives of those like Ms. Slaughter compared to women who work at less grand jobs and pick up children from day care. The difference is those who have profile and apparent success act as a foil for just this discussion. It is not easy to do or possible to have it all. We actually do receive many many stories throughout the year about families, wome and working through it all. It is Ms. Slaughter and those at her level of professional achievement that act as great catalysts and refocus the ongoing debate.

  2. Jennifer B. says:

    The issue of equal pay between genders is sadly unresolved and remains grossly unequal despite decades of supposed “focus”- and headline articles and features.
    Given the economy, the conversation is ever more important. However I agree with PRV that interviews should span the officerial range.

  3. Stuart Kaufman says:

    Good for you, Mark, for nailing one of the problems here: Slaughter’s rather tardy discovery of a problem that any woman working, as you put it, to pay the rent, could have told her about years ago. And, if that were not enough, her having such Olympian detachment from the world of ordinary working women — and never mind single parents! — as to have no idea that anyone but Slaughter and her peers might know that there’s a problem here. Even NPR’s Terry Gross, in her interview with Slaughter, didn’t challenge her on that point.

    The bigger problem, though, is that ordinary working women HAVE voiced this complaint repeatedly, and in vain, because even in better times employers saw no need to concede anything to them. If this situation is ever going to change it will only happen by legislative fiat, and the chances of that coming to pass any time soon are about nil.


  1. says:

    Slaughter’s “Can’t Have It All” Doesn’t Include All…

    The PR Verdict: “B” (Good Show) for Slaughter and her article that provoked huge media discussion. Sometimes an article taps into the zeitgeist; this seems to be one of them….

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