Public Relations as Emotional Labour: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Public Relations as Emotional Labour

1st Edition

By Liz Yeomans


240 pages

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Hardback: 9781138920309
pub: 2019-06-21
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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.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction and guide to chapters. 2. Emotional labour in a global context: a framework. 3. Promotional culture and the ‘market’ for emotional labour in public relations. 4. Interrogating the ‘pink ghetto’: gender and public relations. 5. Skilled emotion workers: PRPs’ emotion management in everyday professional relationships. 6. Professional relationships in public relations: Agency directors’ perspectives of emotion management. 7. Conclusions. 8. Appendix: Researching emotions: From theory to methodology.

About the Author

Liz Yeomans was Reader in Public Relations and Communication at Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, UK, until her retirement in January 2018. She continues to supervise doctoral work and is a peer reviewer for journals in the fields of public relations and communication management. She remains interested in the emotional dimension of organisations and public relations’ role in society and culture, which continues to influence her research and writing projects.

About the Series

Routledge New Directions in Public Relations & Communication Research

Current academic thinking about PR and related communication is a lively, expanding marketplace of ideas and many scholars believe that it’s time for its radical approach to be deepened. Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research is the forum of choice for this new thinking. Its key strength is its remit, publishing critical and challenging responses to continuities and fractures in contemporary PR thinking and practice, tracking its spread into new geographies and political economies. It questions its contested role in market-orientated, capitalist, liberal democracies around the world, and examines its invasion of all media spaces, old, new, and as yet unenvisaged. The New Directions series has already published and commissioned diverse original work on: PR’s influence on Israeli and Palestinian nation building; its origins in the history of ideas; a Jungian approach to its ethics and professionalism; global perspectives on its professional practice; PR as an everyday language for everyone; as emotional labour; as communication in conflicted societies, and its relationships to cooperation, justice and paradox. We actively invite new contributions and offer academics a welcoming place for the publication of their analyses of a universal, persuasive mind-set that lives comfortably in old and new media around the world.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Workplace Culture
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies