Book Review: Strictly Confidential

Although I want to be a journalist, the world of PR has always interested me. From my first week of work experience back in 2009 when I witnessed bag after bag of product being shipped in from PR companies around the city, I was fascinated with what goes on behind the scenes of the PR world. Especially what goes on behind the scenes of Sweaty Betty PR, the name which seemed to be splashed across the majority of the bags landing on mag desks. 

I followed the PR company closely on twitter, and last year was overjoyed to hear that company founder, Roxy Jacenko, was writing a book about the world of PR. Earlier this month her debut novel “Strictly Confidential” was released, and gives a (fictional) look into the behind the scenes of Sydney PR. 

The novel follows Jazzy Lou, who at the start is an assistant to an evil PR guru by the name of Diane Wilderstein. After a few mistakes that are totally not her fault, she finds herself fired, so Jazzy Lou decides to take the plunge and create her own PR Company – Queen Bee. We get to witness the ups and downs of creating a PR company from scratch, and the true reality of the industry – apparently it’s not all celebrities and five star events!

I can only assume that though it’s a fictional novel, it’s based largely on Roxy’s own experiences starting Sweaty Betty PR at just twenty-four years old. There are many things in the book that ring true to reality, such as the “Coco Man Of The Year Awards” which are rather similar to the “Cleo Bachelor Of The Year Awards” which Sweaty Betty helps create in the real world. 

It’s an easy, entertaining read, but there were a few things in it that left me feeling a bit uneasy. Throughout the book, so much emphasis is placed on physical beauty, being skinny, and looking your absolute best. It’s heavily implied (if not frequently stated) numerous times that you have to be tiny, successful, and from a good background to make it anywhere in the industry. I don’t care if it’s what really happens, we should be trying to encourage diversity and talent, not size zero and pretty blondes. For girls interested in a career in PR or the media who read this book, it plants negative thoughts into their heads about what they will have to become to succeed. We shouldn’t be making girls feel they have to be a barbie clone to make it in their chosen career, and I think it’s not great on Roxy’s behalf that she’s encouraging that. Especially since last year she gave birth to a little girl – is she going to bring up little Pixie with the belief that you have to be pretty and skinny to succeed? I also wasn’t a fan of the trivialisation of Jazzy Lou’s addiction to Nurofen – again, not sending the best message to readers. 

If you can look past the sour taste the body image parts leave in your mouth, you’re left with an addictive read about an industry that the general population doesn’t really know much about. If you’re interested in Media or PR, or just want an easy end-of-summer read, pick up Strictly Confidential from your local bookstore today. 

It’s been titled ‘A Jazzy Lou Novel’ as they hope that it will be successful enough for a series to follow. The story ends on a slight cliffhanger, so we can only keep our fingers crossed that we’ll get to read more about the (not-so) glamourous world of PR in the coming months/years.

Rating – 6.5/10
Pages – 262
Author – Roxy Jacenko
Publisher – Allen & Unwin
RRP – $24.99

frangipani princess xoxo

2 thoughts on “Book Review: Strictly Confidential

  1. I bought this book recently purely because it was written by Roxy Jacenko. I didn't know what to make of it, the focus on looking good, that the whole of Sydney is obsessed with the suburb you reside leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Also, how she trivialised her Nurofen habits really makes me wonder if Jacenko is a good role model.

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