Dr. John Watson, the original PR professional?

Dr. John Watson, the original PR professional?

Austin Brailey

Austin Brailey

By the time Lee and Bernays provided the first definition of public relations in the early 1900s, Dr. John Watson had been ‘PRing’ his dear Holmes for decades.

Having just finished the 8th and final Sherlock Holmes book (a journey brought on by the BBC’s brilliant ‘Sherlock’), one thing is very clear: without PR and reputation management, Sherlock Holmes would never have achieved the success he did.

Holmes repeatedly berated Watson for reporting on the ‘trivial’ detail of his cases, but there can be no denying that Watson took Holmes’s cold, clinical methods of deduction and contextualised them in a way that Sherlock never could (or ever wanted to).  When we look at what Watson was doing, he was repackaging content to make it appealing to a wider audience, in the way PR agencies do to this day.

Without the work of Watson, the clients that brought the greatest problems to Sherlock’s rooms in 221B Baker Street would never have even known of his existence, let alone been able to seek his council. The police would never have given the world’s only ‘consulting detective’ so much leeway to operate in the manner of his choosing.  And the criminals of London would never have feared the name ‘Holmes’.

Of course, the works of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never mentioned public relations (it hadn’t officially been invented yet for starters), but in the BBC’s reimagining, Watson-as-a-digital PR could not be any clearer. The good Dr. maintains a blog detailing the works of Holmes and when asked “Do people actually read your blog?” Watson answers, “Where do you think our clients come from?”

Watson’s blog builds Sherlock’s reputation to the point where the attention of the press is attracted and the print and television news outlets simply amplify his reach even further.

No matter how great someone’s work is, potential clients need to know about it through multiple channels.  If ever you are in doubt of the need for PR, think of this as elementary and ask yourself “where would Holmes have been without Watson?”

Picture: http://suiy47.com/tag/sherlock-2/

Share this story:

Read more from the blog

Blog

The Leadership Paradox: Why Talent isn’t Always Enough

Talent and leadership go hand in hand in making an organisation poised for success, but one can’t do without the other. When we think about leadership, we will all have something different in mind. However, the purpose of all leaders is the same: to unite people as a team to work towards the same goal. […] ...Read more

Megan Dennison
Megan Dennison
Blog

The devil wears (preloved) Prada: Tech and second-hand marketplace growth

When I was young, my dad used to bid on second-hand kids’ jewellery for me on eBay. I’d jump up with excitement when he won an auction, but I’d also wonder – what is this strange and mysterious corner of the Internet, where we could buy silver bracelets from nondescript profiles? That corner has since […] ...Read more

Alexandra Kourakis
Alexandra Kourakis
Blog

Strategic PR planning – how to prepare for the summer slowdown

In the world of PR, and in many other industries, the beginning of each year starts with a bang. There’s a flurry of activity as companies race to make noise with new announcements, fresh messaging, the latest thought leadership and more. Then, in the second quarter, many companies host their own conferences and events. Then, […] ...Read more

Rebecca Graham
Rebecca Graham

Add a comment

Time limit exceeded. Please complete the captcha once again.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Is it time to shape your reputation?

We operate in London, Paris and Munich, and have a network of like-minded partners across the globe.

Get in touch

Sign up to Spark, our newsletter

Receive thought pieces from our leadership team, views on the news, tool of the month and light relief for comms folk

You can unsubscribe at any time, please read our privacy policy for more information