Blockbuster movies are not usually down-to-earth, relatable tales of the ins and outs of the banal workplace, but more commonly fantastic and improbable high-action thrillers that deviate from any sort of reality. The world of PR might not be the typical source of content for a box-office hit, but a few films have made it work exceptionally well. Check out these six movies that have portrayed the public relations industry in a fun-filled and sometimes all-too-accurate manner.
1. Jersey Girl
Although the film received negative reviews from critics, it stands to be one of the most accurate portrayals of what it’s really like to work in an agency. Music promoter Ollie Trink is a master of his trade as a top media publicist working in New York City. However, his life is thrown into a world of chaos following a family tragedy. He struggles to maintain his expertise in the PR field while attempting to raise his precocious new daughter. Not everyone knows how non-stop and high pressure the field of PR can be, but Ben Affleck’s character completely losing his cool at a press conference is the perfect exposé.
2. Thank You for Smoking
This film exposes all the good, the bad, and the unhealthy aspects of PR. Suave tobacco lobbyist Nick Naylor gets a taste of how difficult it can be to balance good press with ethics as he must spin tobacco health claims on national television while realizing the implications it might have on his own family. Reminiscent of the historic “Torches of Freedom” campaign, the film delves into all the ugly, ethical gray areas PR professionals deal with on a daily basis. The movie concludes with a classic quote any PR professional can understand: “Michael Jordan plays ball. Charles Manson kills people. I talk. Everybody has a talent.”
3. Our Brand Is Crisis
Sandra Bullock plays a brilliant political strategist who comes out of retirement in hopes of saving the floundering brand of a Bolivian presidential candidate. PR professionals can relate to the struggle of trying to rescue a hopeless brand. The movie is a prime example of changing the conversation when you don’t like what’s being said while also giving portraying the ethical dilemmas faced by PR professionals with unfortunate accuracy.
4. The Candidate
Perhaps a little dated, but certainly still relevant, The Candidate sheds light on just how much power a PR campaign can hold. Idealistic and charismatic Bill McKay makes his way from leftist lawyer to unlikely, yet viable senatorial candidate. In the eyes of the public, the race has already been decided and McKay’s opponent declared the victor. Therefore, McKay has the freedom to say whatever he wants on the campaign trail. The film highlights just how much power a select set of words can yield when presented to a voting public.
5. The Social Network
The Social Network tells the nearly-true story of Mark Zuckerberg and his creation of the global social media platform Facebook. In an age in which social media completely dominates the PR field, it is important to know the ins and outs of the early phases of the social media era. With legal suits and personal vendettas flying, the power of PR is on display once again.
6. Jerry Maguire
No list of PR movies could possibly be complete without mention of the classic Jerry Maguire. Fired for writing a simple and heartfelt memo, Maguire sets out into the world of PR alone, fighting the crushing blows from the public and from his only client. A powerful and entertaining tale of redemption and the resiliency of the human spirit, the movie delves into all the struggles PR professionals face daily on both a small and large scale. In the PR industry, the world is not a friendly place – no matter how hard you might be trying. The film expresses the difficulty of rejection while expressing an accurate portrayal of the type of relationship you must have with the public and your own clients.
PR weaves into every industry you can think of, whether it be sports, politics, or the entertainment industry, so it’s not uncommon to see the workings of PR in movies all over Hollywood. However, these six depict the world of PR in a manner that every past, present or future PR professional can relate to and learn from.