‘The White Rose of Yorkshire’: Public Relations, Condolences and Grief Expression

Luke Strongman


In public relations, there is always unpredictability. It is part of a public relations strategists’ role to assess potential areas of crisis, to monitor the corporate mediascape for unpredictable events and to mitigate uncertainty for their clients be they organisations or individuals. But such public relations exercises are made more complex and unpredictable by the emotions experienced in public grieving. No recent commemoration has been so shocking and grief inspiring as that for British Labour Politician Member of Parliament for Batley and Spen in Yorkshire, Ms. Jo Cox who was shot and stabbed to death outside of her ‘constituency surgery’ in Birstall, West Yorkshire on June 16th, 2016. On her sudden and untimely death a nation and a Commonwealth ‘erupted’ into an expression of mourning, with some commentaries describing Ms. Cox as the ‘white rose of Yorkshire’ in a transient image, ephemeral pure and emblematic of their personal and public grief. As an MP who supported liberal causes, Ms Cox’s untimely death was also a political event. It occurred exactly at that moment of juncture when the ‘leave’ and ‘remain’ factions of the BREXIT campaign were focusing their vitriolic fervor, all the more poignant as she died espousing the liberal cause that was defeated in the first Referendum held on June 23rd, 2016. In discussing the relationship between personal and private grief, this article will focus on the eulogies for Ms Cox and the condolence message phenomenon, primarily as a mediated organisational ‘operation’.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.11114/smc.v5i2.2544


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Studies in Media and Communication      ISSN 2325-8071 (Print)   ISSN 2325-808X (Online)

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