(The Sad) PR Portrayal in Movies

  Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking

Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking

My friends always ask me… what exactly is public relations? I sigh and tell them that PR is so broad, but then I explain to them in detail what I want to do as a PR person. Sometimes they still don’t understand and I have to suggest a famous person or a movie role that someone played.


It’s funny when I actually see PR reps on the big screen- like Aaron Eckhart in Thank You for Smoking and Jason Bateman in Hancock (To see a list of more PR portrayals see Tech PR Gems blog). It’s pretty sad for the reputation of public relations because these reps act so sleazy! I mean, Eckhart is doing the PR for cigarette companies and he is trying to get people to smoke. Enough said. Bateman is a washed up and desperate PR rep in the movie Hancock, and he takes on a jerk superhero so that he can make a name for himself. Come on! Sure, there are some sleazy PR reps out there- and people have to do dirty jobs- but most of them are nothing like these people in the movies. But hey, who wants to watch a person doing nonprofit PR (my goal!) and actually do something good for the world. Not as interesting as being the representative of a superhero!

Thanks to these movies, my friends and countless other people around the world who don’t know what PR is think that real PR reps are just like the characters Eckhart and Bateman play (even though I hope/want people to know better). I hope they understand that there are many aspects to public relations and I really, really hope that these stereotypes aren’t already set in stone!

Another thing, where the women at? I mean… the majority of all my public relations classes are women, there are maybe 2 or 3 men in each of my PR classes (hey guys!), so why aren’t we even in the picture? Sarah Wurrey, in response to the Tech PR Gems blog, noticed that women are portrayed in the PR movie world, but as party planners only. Sure, party planning is an aspect of public relations. But I’m not going to do party planning, and neither do countless other women in PR. A hit movie needs to come out that represents PR in a good light- with a woman as the star!


5 Responses to (The Sad) PR Portrayal in Movies

  1. Rick Boyer says:

    I must say this is a great article i enjoyed reading it keep the good work 🙂

  2. B.G. Smith says:

    I second that. Quite interesting. I like the tie into media portrayals…it’s always good to keep a foot in reality when thinking about some of those bad movie portrayals of the profession.

  3. Good article —

    I think it’s funny that you mentioned that there are so many PR characters who are guys, yet I am a supreme minority in our PR classes (usually 10:1 ratio … for all of those future guy PR majors out there!).

    Very accurate insight into the PR industry.

  4. katie horley says:

    I loved how you wrote about public relations and how it is portrayed in Hollywood. As much as I love the movie Thank You for Smoking and Aaron Eckhart’s character, he is a HORRIBLE representation of a PR professional. Hopefully when we enter the “real world” we aren’t like him as PR professions. 🙂

  5. ninouye says:

    Thank you for all the wonderful comments! After I wrote this blog post, I started seeing more and more PR in Hollywood. Just by watching TV shows and rewatching old movies, I see so much more PR portrayals than I ever realized. Keep your eye out for it because it is out there!

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