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.