Sometimes when I tell people I work in “PR,” they look at me with a blank stare and I know they are thinking: what the heck does that mean? So, for those who may be bamboozled, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite movies that depict public relations at its best (or worst!)
1. The Queen – After Princess Diana died in a horrific car crash in 1997, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and the Royal Family disagree over how to address her death publicly. The movie examines the Royal PR team’s attempt to distance themselves from the “people’s princess,” after the messy divorce of Charles and Diana. Blair convinces the Queen to make affectionate comments about her grandchildren’s mother or a PR nightmare will ensue.
2. Frost/Nixon – Richard Nixon, the shamed former U.S. president attempts to save his face and legacy with a historic interview with David Frost. The movie portrays PR pros on both sides of the interview preparing their subjects and attempting to control the outcomes of the interview. Look out for Nixon’s top political PR aides: Jack Brennan (played by Kevin Bacon), and a young Diana Sawyer (played by Kate Jennings Grant).
3. Jerry Maguire – “The key to this business is personal relationships…” Dicky Fox gives Jerry Maguire the best advice he’ll ever get. In this film, we see Maguire go off the deep end. He leaves the comfort of a firm to go into business for himself. The only thing that will save him is his key relationships. Great film – and some of the best one liners of all time!
4. Roman Holiday – A lovely and miserable Princess Ann derails her public relations tour across Europe when her handlers give her a sedative and she sneaks out that evening to enjoy Rome on her own terms. She wakes up the next morning with reporter Joe looking over her. He must decide whether to sell her secrets and unhappiness to the world or keep their friendship hush-hush – revealing how much power the reporter always has over the story.
5. A League of Their Own – Kit and Dottie leave the farm for greener pastures, the All-American Professional Girls Baseball League. But playing baseball invites public scrutiny, with many suggesting that women occupied outside of the home are masculine and worthless. To offset the attacks, a PR campaign is developed by scout Ernie Capadino (played by Jon Lovitz) and head of PR, Mr. Lowenstein. The league designs their outfits to be sexy rather than practical, and these two goofballs make the players go through etiquette and beauty school. Not to mention they keep talented but unsightly Marla Hooch permanently tucked away behind her baseball cap.
We can all learn a thing or two from these PR gurus. What’s your favorite public relations flick? Tell us…