Great Course: Students Learn That PR Is “Something Mercenary and Without Honor”

by Scott Baradell | PR and Pop Culture

Great Course: Students Learn That PR Is “Something Mercenary and Without Honor”

From Purdue University:

Professor Uses ‘Novel’ Way to Teach Advanced Public Relations

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind., Aug. 30 (AScribe Newswire) — Purdue University public relations students are learning that fiction can prepare them for reality.

“I traded in textbooks for novels in three of my advanced public relations classes,” says Josh Boyd, associate professor of communication. “Even though the stories are fiction, the characters and plot can reinforce theories, ethics and the realities of working in a career such as public relations.”

Boyd also assigned two novels, Carl Hiaasen’s “Native Tongue” and Christopher Buckley’s “Thank You for Smoking,” for class discussions and papers.

“Native Tongue” is about a veteran journalist whose career stumbles, and he ends up working an entry-level writing job at an amusement park in south Florida. The author portrays public relations as “something mercenary and without honor.” Buckley’s novel is about how a spokesperson for the Academy of Tobacco Studies handles working with smokers’ rights groups and antismoking groups while trying to promote tobacco.

“This was a great way for students to learn, to at least some extent, what it’s like to work in the field, and that is valuable for those who may have little internship experience,” says Boyd, an expert in corporate rhetoric.

“Students learned about crisis management and how to address the media when something goes wrong, as well as how these fictional public relations professionals handled ethical problems. Instead of just talking about ethical standards or spin theory during class, we had real examples of professionals working with different kinds of news media, such as ‘Larry King Live’ and the ‘Today Show.'”

“The novels put advanced students in the shoes of a fictional professional.”

I’m sure there’s a joke in there somewhere about how PR practitioners write fiction for a living anyway…ha ha.

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