Films, TV, radio and books on PR – UPDATE

Posted on: November 5, 2008

[This update includes films and TV listed in Trevor Morris and Simon Goldsworthy’s new ‘PR – A Persuasive Industry? (2008: Palgrave Macmillan) and suggestions from colleagues. How could I have left ‘Spin City’ out of the first edition?]

Recently, I asked PR educator colleagues in the UK for help in developing a list of films, television and radio programmes/series and books that either featured public relations as a core issue or referred to it in a passing way. They responded enthusiastically with suggestions that went back into the 1950s and forward to the present including films on current release and a soap opera set in a real PR consultancy in Manchester, UK. Here’s the list we can up with – Can you add to it so that we have a world-wide resource on the visual and fictional presentation of PR:


Wag the Dog


Thank You for Smoking


America’s Sweethearts


The Sweet Smell of Success


 The Devil wears Prada


The Control Room 


Hancock (Alcoholic superhero cuckolds his PR man)


The China Syndrome


Sliding Doors – key character works in PR


Bridget Jones’s Diary’s_Diary


Days of Wine and Roses


Four’s a Crowd


The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit


Phone Booth


Primary Colors


Sex and the City (movie)


Waikiki Wedding


Documentaries and polemics:


Roger and Me


Century of the Self


The War Room


Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room   


The Corporation




Absolutely Fabulous


Absolute Power


The Thick of It


Some Mothers do Have’Em’Ave_’Em – Series two, episode three – the public relations course.


Party Animals


The West Wing


Spitting Image


Spinning Jenny – A new twist to PR film / TV with an interactive internet-based soap opera  set in Manchester’s Brazen PR and made by online entertainment service


PoweR Girls


Sex and the City


Spin City




Christoper Buckley (1994) Thank you for Smoking. Harper Perennial. ISBN 0679431748;

Paper back Random House ISBN 0812976525


Alistair Campbell (2007) The Blair Years. Random House. Paperback August 2008, ISBN 0099514753


Eric Dezenhall (2004) Jackie Disaster: A Mystery. St Martin’s Press. ISBN 0312307713


Anonymous [Joe Klein] (1996) Primary Colors. Grand Central Publishing, ISBN 0446604275


Graham Lancaster (1997) Grave Song. Coronet. Paperback ISBN: 0340667117.


David Michie – Conflict of Interest, Pure Deception, Expiry Date


Daniel Price (2004) Slick. Villard. ISBN 1400062349


J.B. Priestley. (1996 reprint). The Image Men. Mandarin ISBN 0749322969


Mimi Thebo (2002) The saint who loved me. Allison & Busby. ISBN: 0749005041


Sloan Wilson (1955; 2002 reprint) The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. Four Walls Eight Windows/ Capo Publishing. ISBN 1568582463



Absolute Power




Miller, K. (1999) Public Relations in Film and Fiction. Journal of Public Relations Research, Vol 11, No.1, pp. 3 – 28



7 Responses to "Films, TV, radio and books on PR – UPDATE"

Excellent list – thank you. The books perhaps need some attention (are you suggesting The Blair Years is a work of fiction?). Let me propose one addition – William Boyd’s Restless: this 2006 novel is a fictionalised account of British propaganda attempts to persuade the US to join the war in the months before Pearl Harbor.

Oh, sorry, Miller and Dinan believe we’ve excised discussion of propaganda from the history of PR…

Thanks for the appreciative feedback. ‘The Blair Years’ is the lone non-fiction book amongst a list of fiction. It is a debateable point as to whether it is about the creation of fiction being reported in a non-fiction format.

All suggestions of additions to the list are welcomed. I only wish I had time to sit and watch, read or listen to all of them. I do, however, enjoy ‘Wag The Dog’ which is is valuable addition to the teaching of political communication and lobbying.

I LOVE wag the dog (and for one teaching year wore bow ties in honour of the Robert de Niro character) – it’s very dark, very brilliant and almost completely prescient (most of it really happened).

Good list Tom; how about ‘Fun With Dick and Jane’ (Carey as Corp Comms VP) plus, cant resist a plug for my book ‘Public Relations Disasters’! Gerry

Gerry: Thanks for the suggestion. Haven’t seen ‘Fun with Dick and Jane’ but then I have an aversion to Jim Carrey (same for Adam Sandler). I’ll be brave and watch it soon.

Happy Gilmore (sorry is a film with Adam Sandler), but Julie Bowen plays Virginia who is the head of PR for the golf tour

Just an update on Spinning Jenny, our online drama about PR girl jenny hragrevaes basde in a real PR agency. It is currently piloting on bebo and the first series should be starting in the New Year.By the way, since launching the pilot, “Jenny” has been head hunted by a couple of agencies and the main series might well start with Jenny’s first day in her new job … just like real life, hey?

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