An analysis of the cult vampire TV series, True Blood, has revealed new insights into the representation of public relations in popular culture.
Murdoch University academic Kate Fitch investigated the representation of public relations in the HBO television series and found a complex portrayal – and implicit critique – of the industry.
“The scholarship on public relations in popular culture generally rests on a narrow conceptualisation of the public relations profession, and ignores the irony in popular culture” Ms Fitch said.
“However, today’s audiences have a very sophisticated understanding of public relations.”
Fitch analysed a fictional public relations campaign run by the American Vampire League (AVL), which aims to provide vampires with equal rights and full citizenship.
“I focused on representations of public relations in the first four series, finishing with the bloody death of AVL spokesperson turned bad, Nan Flanagan,” Ms Fitch said.
“Flanagan is initially represented as a rational and corporate-style spokesperson before the AVL is revealed as a front-organisation for the shadowy authority.
“Given the gendered representation of public relations in popular culture, where female practitioners often have trivial roles, it is interesting to consider this portrayal of a powerful female public relations practitioner.
“Flanagan highlights the contradictions and paradoxes in the representation of public relations and accurately depicts that there is no single reality of public relations.
“Rather, Flanagan’s practitioner plays with multiple identities of public relations and adopts multiple discourses from social justice to corporate greed.”
Fitch presented her findings at the Barcelona Meeting Com #3 International PR Conference last year, and has been invited to return as a plenary speaker to the conference in 2014.
A special issue of Public Relations Review exploring representations of public relations will publish the full paper shortly.