Inextricably linked to neoliberal market economies, public relations’ influence in our promotional culture is profound. Yet many aspects of the professional role are under-researched and poorly understood, including the impact on workers who construct displays of feeling to elicit a desired emotional response, to earn trust and manage clients. The emotionally demanding nature of this aspirational work, and how this is symptomatic of "always on" culture, is particularly overlooked.
Drawing on interviews with practitioners and agency directors, together with the author’s personal insights from observations in the field, this book fills a significant gap in knowledge by presenting a critical-interpretive exploration of everyday relational work of account handlers in PR agencies. In underscoring the relationship-driven, highly contingent nature of this work, the author shows that emotional labour is a defining feature of professionalism, even as public relations is reconfigured in the digital age. In doing so, the book draws on a wide range of related contemporary social and cultural theories, as well as critical public relations and feminist public relations literature.
Scholars, educators and research students in PR and communications studies will gain rich insights into the emotion management strategies employed by public relations workers in handling professional relationships with clients, journalists and their colleagues, thereby uncovering some of the taken-for-granted aspects of this gendered, promotional work.