What are you reading? My question to new students on our courses has been met with a mixed response. There were some surprising answers (could they have known the question was coming?) – but too many blank stares.
Here’s the challenge. If you won’t read, then I can’t help you to write. If you don’t read, then you won’t be equipped to cope with senior public relations roles. Don’t believe me? Then check out the references in Andy Green’s latest book, Effective Personal Communication Skills for Public Relations. The author’s a PR consultant, not an academic, but he reads widely and voraciously around science, business, literature and psychology.
What am I reading? In fiction, I’m in a campus novel groove. Zadie Smith’s On Beauty mixes race, intellect and academic rivalry in a US campus. Before that Tom Wolfe’s massive I am Charlotte Simmons, ostensibly about sex and elitism in a top US university, seemed to me to be a morality tale about a declining civilisation.
You may think fiction has nothing to teach us. Consider this: Zadie Smith’s first novel, White Teeth, first published in 2000, depicted a group of disaffected non-white young men in north London. Their organisation: the Keepers of the Eternal and Vigilant Islamic Nation (KEVIN). The group was more menacing than this satirical name suggests, and in the five years since 9/11 every newspaper and magazine has written about this phenomenon.