Sex and the Single Gurley Brown

 Sex and the Single Gurley Brown

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for Helen Gurley Brown.

What is the PR secret to staying “on- message” and in the public eye for over forty years? The death this week of Helen Gurley Brown (HGB), former Editor- in-Chief of Cosmopolitan and author of once scandalous books, provides some clues. Since the 1970s, she never stopped preaching the same message. And women in particular, kept on listening.

Feminists were never quite sure where to place HGB. Some staged a sit-in at her offices in protest during her editorship of Cosmo, while others lambasted her “teenage immaturity.”  She certainly knew how to scandalize, claiming “I’ve never worked anywhere without being sexually involved with somebody in the office.” Did this include her boss? “Why discriminate against him?” was her tart reply. Cheeky!

Having shocked America with her thesis that unmarried women not only had sex but also enjoyed it, the NY Times recently wrote that she spent “the next three decades telling those women precisely how to enjoy it even more.” Bottom line, her aim, she said, was to tell women “How to get everything out of life — the money, recognition, success, men, prestige, authority, dignity — whatever she is looking at through the glass her nose is pressed against.” So it wasn’t just about sex after all.

The PR Verdict: “A” (PR Perfect) for HGB. Her message was simple: Kick off the conversation with headline-grabbing sex, but broaden into “having it all.” No wonder she was still listened to.

The PR Takeaway: Lasting success comes from wrapping a simple message into a wider discourse. Weighing in at 100 pounds all her life, HGB was a socio-political heavyweight, talking about sex in the wider empowered context of “having it all” and being your best. The mistress of the sound bite, HGB was famous for her motto, “Good girls go to heaven. Bad girls go everywhere.” Back in 1970, she was already speaking to the Sex & the City zeitgeist, perhaps even helping to create it. Forty years later, her message still resonates; no small achievement for someone who was supposedly just talking about sex and the single girl.

To read more about HGB, click here.

Did Helen Gurley Brown help to objectify or liberate women? Give us your PR Verdict!

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

PETA’s Naked Agenda

cf05e peta xxx2 300x280 PETAs Naked Agenda

The PR Verdict: “C” for PETA and its promo porn.

Do you care about animals? Do you care about porn? Well then, today is your lucky day!  Animal rights activist group, People for The Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA)  has launched a site for you.  The eye-popping website features naked porn stars and vegetarian sex tips, including advice on how to boost your sex drive with vegetables.

The adult-only site, called PETA.XXX.com, was introduced by famously unattractive porn star (and animal lover) Ron Jeremy. “This is the perfect example of sex just being used to draw interest,” he explained, “and then once you’re there on the site, we’re going to hit you with facts that you need to know about the world of animals.”

Justifying the approach, PETA spokeswoman Lindsay Rajit said, “We live in a 24-hour news cycle world, and we learn the racy things we do are sometimes the most effective way that we can reach particular individuals.” The porn site will raise awareness of veganism, said Rajt. “We really want to grab people’s attention, get them talking… we can help the greatest number of animals by not eating them.”

The PR Verdict: “C” (Distinctly OK) for PETA and its promo porn. While it may grab the headlines on day one, it raises potential problems that go beyond splash coverage.

PR Takeaway: Resist the quick hit and the quick headline. Yes, PETA’s website and launch has garnered media attention, but for an organization already known for outrageous PR stunts, this seems desperate. With Ron Jeremy as a key spokesperson, PETA risks being excluded permanently from any serious debate about animal welfare and food sustainability. More importantly, PETA’s supporters may be as opposed to porn on the grounds that it exploits women, as they are opposed to the exploitation of animals. What will Ron Jeremy say then?

To read more click here and here.