1st Edition

Depth Public Relations After the Masquerade

By Johanna Fawkes Copyright 2023

    Contemporary global culture, rooted in neoliberalism and free market forces, increasingly emphasises appearance over substance. People and organisations are judged by image and reputation while social media encourages and enables us to develop our own public persona.

    This book explores the rise of promotional communication with a particular focus on public relations (PR) and its role. Organisations, from local charities to multinational corporations, employ professional PR staff to manage promotional communication, and even public institutions must position themselves in the marketplace to secure funding and approval. To what extent has PR contributed to this culture of display, this masquerade of emptiness?

    This book argues that the climate crisis demands not more performance but a new approach, one of ‘depth public relations’. This concerpt builds on ideas not only from public relations, but also psychology, sociology and philosophy, as well as introducing the voices of climate activists and others seeking a deeper relationship with the human and non- human worlds.

    The proposed principles of depth public relations offer suggestions for theory and practice, with profound implications for PR and related fields, and will interest all scholars of the changing communication environment.


    Chapter 1. Overture: Introduction

    Act I Curtain Up

    Chapter 2. Playing the part: identity issues in public relations

    Chapter 3. Roll up Roll up: public relations and promotional culture

    Chapter 4. All the world a stage: public relations as performance

    Chapter 5. Masquerade

    Act II After the Masquerade

    Chapter 6. Beneath the mask: a Jungian approach

    Chapter 7. After the masquerade: down, not out

    Chapter 8. Public relations and the planet: not a case study

    Chapter 9. Curtain call: depth public relations

    Chapter 10. Conclusions, observations, research directions and reflections



    Johanna Fawkes, PhD, is currently Visiting Fellow at Leeds Beckett University, UK. She was Principal Research Fellow at the University of Huddersfield (2016–18), leading an international research team to produce the Global Capability Framework for Public Relations and Communications Management. Since 1990, Johanna has developed public relations degrees at all levels at universities in the UK and Australia, following a career in public sector communication. She has delivered international keynote speeches and published widely on public relations’ identity, performance and ethics. Her book, Public Relations Ethics and Professionalism; The Shadow of Excellence, introducing a Jungian approach to ethics, was published by Routledge in 2015 (paperback 2017). She now lives in Andalucia, Spain.

    "In her ambitiously comprehensive, deeply researched, gracefully written, socio-cultural scholarly tour-de-force, Professor Fawkes expands the aperture of public relations, while offering a compelling critique of the concept and the practice. What comes into focus is much that has been obscured by PR’s traditional managerial perspective. Her achievement is to give us a long and deep look at ways of conceptualizing PR beyond the limitations of the older model without throwing out the communication-management baby with the socio-cultural bathwater. Fawkes’s insights are likely to resonate with PR and other disciplinary scholars, teachers and students as well as thoughtful practitioners of the persuasive industries. As a critical scholar, Fawkes has not neglected a certain 'inwardness' in PR, which identifies, in a minor key, the field's increasingly intentional, aspirational and redemptive humanism."

    Robert E. Brown (PhD), Emeritus Professor of Media and Communication, Salem State University and Affiliated Faculty, Communication Studies, Emerson College.

    "You'd expect sophisticated thinking from a scholar - depth is a given. But I'm most struck by the admirable breadth of the author's analysis. In short, there is no single volume that better summarises and categorises decades of public relations scholarship. That alone makes this book a must-read for public relations educators, advanced students and curious professionals."

    Richard Bailey, Senior Lecturer in Public Relations at Leeds Beckett University and editor of PR Place Insights.

    "Depth Public Relations is an ambitious and highly original book. Johanna Fawkes shares insights from a career as a public relations academic, practitioner, and teacher. It presents the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary public relations practice from a critical research perspective. It's unusually readable for an academic book that will appeal to anyone working in public relations. Fawkes is herself an excellent public relations practitioner."

    Stephen Waddington, Managing Partner, Wadds Inc., Visiting Professor, Newcastle University, PhD Student, Leeds Business School


    "It is not easy for a book to hit the nail on the head. And even more so if it is a text about a discipline and a profession about which many people think that everything has already been said. This occurs with the book by Johanna Fawkes, whose great merit is having offered an approach to public relations that combines references to the transforming processes of professional practice with others to theoretical frameworks little explored until now, such as the one to ideas from Jung. Fawkes deals with issues that seem very evident to the reader, but, at the same time, the reader wonders why nobody had said it until now. The outcome is an exciting theoretical and practical update of the public relations body of knowledge based on its main feature: interdisciplinarity. Indeed, this book shows how necessary interdisciplinarity and a 360 degrees' approach is necessary for critical public relations scholars."

    Jordi Xifra, Full Professor, Catedrático de Universidad, Department of Communication, Spain


    "In "Depth Public Relations" Dr. Fawkes continues her quest into the shadowy side of public relations with Jung by her side. The book is a passionate call for change and cements the impression of Dr. Fawkes as one of the most original thinkers in the field of public relations."

    Øyvind Ihlen, Professor in the Department of Media and Communication at the Universtiy of Oslo and Adjunct Professor at Nord University, Norway.