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Can We Find Public Relations Within Fictional Literature?

Public relations is everywhere.

I know this is a bold claim and you might be thinking to yourself, “How? That doesn’t make any sense!” But I can assure you that public relations is in almost every form of media, you just need to take a closer look. Right now, though, I’m going to narrow the media field to something everyone is familiar with; literature. Whether you stopped reading after high school or find yourself escaping to fictional worlds to cope with the stress of this year (this is a self callout), you are in some way familiar with the literary world. As an avid reader myself, I was curious to see if there were any connections to my favorite novels and my future career: public relations.

Turns out there are plenty!

I’ve compiled a list of some of my favorite novels and how their seemingly unrelated content can be traced back to PR.

1. Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris

Starting off with a relatively new favorite of mine, Then We Came to the End tells the story of a failing advertising agency and how its employees keep themselves occupied since there’s not much to do. They gossip about relationships, pull pranks on each other, and try to buy their time as they stress over who is going to be laid off next. Things change, though, when a client asks the agency to create a humorous campaign about lung cancer that would make patients worry less about their diagnosis. See the connection? Even though this novel explores more of the dramatic side of working in an office environment, its plot still follows a key aspect of the public relations world; its sister field of advertising.

2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

This young adult novel is about a book-obsessed college freshman trying to fit in with her new academic environment while maintaining a close relationship with her family and the novels that practically raised her. (You can probably guess why this is a favorite of mine.) She writes fanfiction about two male characters in her favorite book series with her older sister and faces conflict when her sister wants to branch off to different activities without her. After reading this brief summary, you’re probably thinking, “how does fanfiction have anything to do with PR?” I thought the same thing when I was writing this blog, so I dug a little deeper and realized that the connection between the two is closer than I thought.

The main character publishes her fanfiction onto a blog dedicated to other fictional narratives written by fans of the same book series. When I realized she puts her stories on a blog, that rang so many bells in my mind. Writing blogs is a huge aspect of public relations that many people seem to overlook. They help promote a company and provide extra content for their consumers. This is pretty much what the main character is doing when she writes her fanfiction: promoting the book series and providing extra content for fans just like her.

3. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

This last novel may seem out of place, but I can assure you it belongs in the list. Pride and Prejudice is a classic novel that tells the story of the Bennet family and how they live their daily lives in the early 19th century. The family attends balls and gossips with other members of their town all while the two eldest daughters deal with potential love interests. Everyone in the town attended these balls and everyone knew where to go and what to do. You may be wondering how this could be possible in the 19th century. They didn’t have social media or any forms of modern technology for that matter, so how was this mass communication possible? Well, they wrote letters and they heard about these parties from other members of their towns. This, to me, sounds like a perfect example of word-of-mouth marketing, which is a fundamental aspect of public relations.

Not only were letters and word-of-mouth marketing major public relations elements in this novel, but the main love interest, Mr. Darcy, has his own secretary that represents him in writings. This secretary would write letters for Mr. Darcy, organize his business obligations, and even organize his social calendar. I don’t know about you, but Darcy’s secretary sounds like a public relations representative to me!

PR is everywhere, which is what makes it so important! So next time you’re deep into a book, embark on the fun challenge of finding PR in it.

This blog post was written by Rachael Dickson, Digital Committee Member.

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