Films, TV, radio and books on PR – UPDATE 2

Posted on: January 4, 2011

[This second update update includes two new novels on PR from 1948 and 1958 referred to in Marvin N Olasky’s Corporate Public Relations (1987, LEA) and a new paper on the history of film representations of PR from Australian academic Jane Johnston which was presented at the First International History of Public Relations Conference last year.]

In 2007, 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. It was added to in 2008 with other references. Here’s the list we came 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

Jersey Girl

The Island

 In the Loop…



Roger and Me

Century of the Self

The War Room

Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room   

The Corporation

The War You Don’t See (John Pilger)

Steel City



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

The Spin Crowd

PR (CBC, Canada)

Kell on Earth – Kelle Cutrone’s series about her fashion PR agency, people’s republic



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

Charles Harrison (1948) Nobody’s Fool. Henry Holt. ASIN: B000I1UAO

Robert van Riper, (1958) A Really Sincere Guy. David McKay ASIN: B0007E5TB4



Absolute Power



Johnston, J. (2010) A history of Public Relations on screen: Cinema and television depictions since the 1930s. Proceedings of the First International History of Public Relations Conference, Bournemouth University, July 8-9, 2010. pp. 188-209. Available at:

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

17 Responses to "Films, TV, radio and books on PR – UPDATE 2"

[…] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jay O'Connor. Jay O'Connor said: RT @historyofpr: Here's the latest update of films, TV, radio and novels on PR. Any additions? […]

The Island

Kim Coates as Charles Whitman, director of Public Relations for Merrick Biotech.

Kevin Smith’s Jersey Girl

Thanks – I’ve added both The Island and Jersey Girl to the list.

The CBC had a terrible drama called PR that ran for 1 season and was purportedly based on Ab Fab (which you have in your list)

Josh: Thanks for the suggestion of ‘PR’ which I have added to the list.

some years ago (?2004) Casualty, on BBC1, has a series in which the PR person for the hospital regularly appeared as an interfering and misrepresenting nuisance in the department

Sue: Thanks for the suggestion. I avoid ‘Casualty’ but there must be a tragic who can tell us the character and the episodes.

Tom, thanks for pointing me to Grave Song – I hadn’t realised it was by Graham (Biss) Lancaster. Amazon ordered has despatched already so expect a PR in Fiction review shortly!

Phil: Graham has written several novels although it’s 10 years since the last one. At Easter last year, he told me that another one was being written but I don’t think it had a PR angle. Hope you enjoy Grave Song. Have you read the David Michie novels? I thought were some nearly-recognisable characters from the late 90s City boom. No names, though.

Yes, I’ve read Michie’s Conflict of Interest! Will share my thoughts on Lomboids at some point.


There’s the whole series of Agatha Raisin books by MC Beaton – AR occasionally pauses during her amateur detective work to consider her former career in PR.

As well as TYFS, several of Christopher Buckley’s books feature PR practitioners – Boomsday; Florence of Arabia

David Gates – Preston Falls

Bruce Wagner – I’m Losing You

Eric Dezenhall – Turnpike Flameout; Shakedown Beach; Money Wanders

Gregory Mcdonald – Fletch and the Man Who

Christopher Brookmyre – Boiling a Frog; Be My Enemy

Lauren Henderson – My Lurid Past

Carl Hiaasen – Native Tongue

Denise Deegan – Turning Turtle

Daisy Waugh – Ten Steps to Happiness; The New You Survival Kit

Christopher Matthew – Family Matters; The Simon Crisp Diaries; Knocking On

Michael Shea – Spin Doctor

Des Wilson – Campaign

Raymond Strother – Cottonwood

Penny Vincenzi – Almost a Crime

Andrew O’Connor – Exclusive

Thanks for this update, Conor, which includes several titles new to me. Can you suggest a particular MC Beaton novel for PR references – from what you say, perhaps the first?


The first in that series by MC Beaton was Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death (1992).

Just bought Quiche of Death – 99p on Kindle!

I have added a page listing novels by UK writers that feature PR to varying degrees to my Mediations site

It’s a bit of a stretch but you could include Mad Men in the list of TV shows as they do often reference PR tactics, even if Don Draper is not convinced of their merit over advertising!

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