Movies for public relations students

I, like most people, enjoy a good movie. I even have a backlog of movies I want to see once time allows.  Some of the movies on my “to-see” list are for pure enjoyment, but some of them, I hope, can be incorporated into one or more of my public relations courses. Many professors, and professionals, recognize the impact of the character Samantha Jones from Sex & City. (I’ll admit, I still have yet to watch this movie and have only seen a handful of TV episodes.)  Yet, there are some better options available. I asked, via twitter, for individuals to share what movies they feel all public relations students, or those interested in public relations, should view.  I’ve embedded the trailers for their suggested movies/movie clips below. (I can say I have seen all, but one, of the suggested movies. YEAH!)

I know area of public relations expertise plays a significant role in deciding to show or not show a movie in class. However, what are some additional movies, or movie clips, that students new to the public relations major should view?




Filed under classes, public relations

42 responses to “Movies for public relations students

  1. I also agree Hancock is a great movie that relates to Public Relations! This movie was able to show crisis management and how to change a negative situation to a positive.

  2. The movie I was going to suggest that would relate to public relations was Hancock. To me Hancock represented what a PR person would do, in regards to cleaning up a negative image.

    I have seen two of the four movies you posted, and “Thank you for smoking” was another excellent public relations example.

  3. Hancock is a great example! I didn’t like the movie at all though but it is a good movie for PR majors to watch. Also, their are some clips from the show Entourage that could be very useful (the publicist character is a great example of a PR stereotype).

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  5. This post is rather interesting to me, because I have seen several of these movies but have never thought of them portraying to Public Relations. Before this class, I had never seen “Thank You for Smoking,” and in my opinion it was a great movie to display to our class. It showed how important the PR individual is to an entire company, and how the way they present themselves is what can make or break a company. In contrast, when I saw “Sex and the City” movie, it was easy to see and understand what Samantha’s job is although it was a lot different than what Nick Naylor’s job was in “Thank You for Smoking.” Another movie that could be beneficial to showing a PR class is “She’s Out Of My League.”

  6. I think “The Social Network” would be a great movie for PR majors to watch. It really shows the evolution of Social Media. Also really just paying attention to the news and media!

  7. ln00219

    I’ve seen two of those movies, and I feel as though “Thank You for Smoking” was the better representation of PR of the two. It’s a good representation of PR and that there are all kinds of products out there that require PR that may not be the most liked thing out there.

  8. Since starting this class, I have noticed that a lot of the movies that I love incorporate public relations to come degree. I will admit, the only movie on this list that I have seen are Hancock, Thank You for Smoking and The Social Network (which I actually just saw for the first time just recently over Thanksgiving break), and I loved them all. Another movie that deals more with the more political side of public relations is the movie Head of State, with Chris Rock. It was all about his political campaign to become president. His team basically built his entire public image from the ground up. There are also a lot of examples of public relations in some of my favorite crime television shows. Law and Order: SVU and Criminal Minds often have press conferences in order to gain information from the public about people they are looking for.

  9. The Social Network and Thank You for Smoking are the only movies that I have seen out of those five, but they are definitely great choices for PR students! A few of my favorites that also involve a good bit of PR are The Queen, Chicago, and The Devil Wears Prada. Out of the three, The Queen contains the most information on the importance of public relations and how it works by using a real situation that occurred. It is a story about the crisis management media relations used, by the British Queen, concerning the death of Princess Diana.

  10. oliviaclements

    I agree with all of the examples above! Another good option would be the movie “Absence of malice” although it discusses ethhical dilmmas involved in the feild of journalsims I think that this could easily be applied to pr as well.

  11. I really have to rent Hancock to view it again. I’ve seen the movie a couple of times but never focused on any elements of public relations in the movie. Thank You for smoking is probably won of the greatest works to show the value of the effectiveness of public relations. I had never seen the film prior to class but now its apart of my collection

  12. I have only seen Hancock and Thank You For Smoking. Both movies were very entertaining and I wish we could have watched Hancock in class. PR was definitely evident in the Thank You For Smoking movie and presented tactics on how to clean up ones mess. As I think about it now Hancock does present PR tactics with representation of Will Smith’s character Hancock. I’ve never seen Wag the Dog but from viewing the trailer I believe it would be good to watch in an intro class.

  13. J P

    I have only had the pleasure of seeing two of the movies listed, Hancock and Thank You For Smoking thanks to my intro PR class. I’m not sure how Hancock relates to PR, but yet it has been a while since I have seen the movie. I enjoyed Thank You For Smoking and can see on multiple aspects how it can be related to PR and why we watched it in class. The Social Network looked interesting but I wasn’t that interested in seeing it in theaters, if it comes on netflix over the break I will watch it.

  14. Another movie that struck me is the HBO film “Too Big to Fail”. It is about the recent economic recession. It follows Hank Paulson from right before the crisis until just after the bailouts. It shows him interacting with people and stepping through the mine field of telling them certain things about what is going on and how he will handle it. Specifically this scene where they are spitballing on how to tell the media what is going on. The movie, however, is not about PR, but there are a lot of interactions with the press in it.

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  16. I have never realized the role that PR took in any of these movies and I have seen all of them except for “Wag the Dog”. I very much enjoyed “Thank You for Smoking”, it kept my attention throughout the entire movie and I even learned alot. “The Social Network”, on the other hand, did not keep my interest. I found it to be very long and boring. “Hancock” is my type of movie. It was funny, sad, and dramatic all in one. I have definitely seen that movie more than once. After watching the preview for “Wag the Dog” it is now on my list of movies to see. As an example for another movie that has to do with PR that may be interesting for somone interested in this field to view are the “Sex and the City” movies. They are some of the best movies that I have ever seen. They not only keep my attention throughout the whole movie, but it also portrays women in the public relations field in a positive way. They are must-see movies!

  17. I think these are all great movies for students new to PR to screen. Before your class, I had never seen Thank You for Smoking; I only knew what it was about. Watching it while we were discussing concepts you could find in the movie made it a completely different experience than if I had just watched it for sole entertainment purposes. One movie that has addresses image management and reputation is “The Devil Wears Prada.” The antagonist cites the bad publicity that she was going to receive because of her divorce as damaging to her image and motivtion for her selfish choices.

    -K. Landress

  18. I agree with these movies. I’ve been trying to think of others but am having a hard time. Alot of movies have smaller roles of PR in them. As we have seen over the course of this semester, public relations is everywhere. So a large amount of movies have some aspect of PR in them, whether it is for a company in the movie or an event planner. My favorite is Sex and the City personally. I’ve been watching the show for a long time and love the movies. It of course only shows the glamorous side of public relations, but it is for entertainment purposes. I think that seeing that glamorous side gets people involved with it. I know it was a big draw in for me, all the big parties and whatnot. But the more research I did I am now leaning more towards medical PR. Movies are a good way of demonstrating PR, whether showing the positives or the negatives.

  19. I have seen both “Thank You for Smoking” and “The Social Network”. I really enjoyed watching “Thank You for Smoking” however I did not necessarily like “The Social Network”. “The Social Network” was an interesting movie in the sense of how Facebook was produced, however, it did not keep my interest. One of the best movies that I’ve seen are the “Sex in the City” movies. Those not only keep my attention throughout the whole movie, but it also portrays women in the public relations field in a positive, very true light.

  20. kellywinkler

    You need to see “Sex in the City” the movie! Both of the movies are extremely funny. I was not expecting to like “Thank You for Smoking”, but after seeing it in class I loved it. It was very funny and eye catching. I have also seen the Social Network and liked learning how Facebook was created but has a movie it was not all that great. I do see how it would be beneficial for Public Relation courses. I have not seen Hancock or the Watch Dog, but I’ll check them out!

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  22. ndemarko

    The movie The Queen would actually be a good choice. It’s basically the story of crisis management media relations of the British Queen after the death of Princess Diana. Students could really get a glimpse of media communication which is illustrated through the Royal family.

    Also, I would suggest- All the President’s Men. Even though this film may seem more important in the journalism field, it still could benefit PR majors. The movie demonstrates how the Washington Post played a role in the Watergate scandal which led to President Richard Nixon‘s resignation.

    Last, this might seem a bit out there but, The Devil Wears Prada. Try to take it serious and examine the fashion media business. The film actually reveals a lot of hidden secrets of the fashion magazine world.

    Just some food for thought…

  23. I have seen 2 of the 4 movies mentioned. I have seen “Thank you for Smoking” and “The Social Network.” I saw “Thank you for Smoking” for the first time in your class and watched it again a second time when I was writing my critical analysis. I liked the movie and really saw the public relations world in it. I liked how it showed what PR professionals can go through and that life is not always easy for them. I also have seen “The Social Network,” but did not like it as much as I thought I would. I thought I would enjoy learning about the making of Facebook, but like others have said it does get really confusing and you have to really think about it. For me, those aren’t my kind of movies. You mention “Sex and the City” in your blog as well, and I have seen both of those movies as well as many of the episodes. I do think Samantha shows one side of PR, but I think she gives a good perception of event planning and such. On their episode PR looks like it is a piece of cake and all fun and games, and while I am sure it can be at times, there is a lot more to it.

  24. I’ve seen 3/4 movies and have been trying to see the movie Wag the Dog since earlier in the summer (Netflix has yet to release it on instant stream), but as far as other PR movies are Jersey Girl with Liv Tyler and Ben Afleck in the begining he shows you what NOT to do in PR.

  25. gb1990

    To be honest, I’ve seen all these movie. If you really want to see a good PR Movie… try Schindler’s List. Why? Even though there’s graphic violence and nudity, the message of the movie speaks out more that there was a horror in the world where 6 million Jews were murdered by the Nazi soldiers. I’ve seen that trailer and I immediately bought the DVD and I was in awe for 3 hours. The next movie that I recommend PR movie I want people to see is The Ides of March. Why? George Clooney, Ryan Gossling, and one hell of a presidential debate based on loyalty and advertisements.

  26. i’m not sure if this is really the BEST response, but its a great movie, and it has, in my opinion, something to say about Public Relations. Miracle on 34th Street is a fun heartwarming movie, but it also shows the progression from Macy’s old way of doing things to the way they do things now. In the movie, if Macy’s doesn’t have the exact thing that the customer wants, they try to get them to get something similar at their store. But when St. Nicholas comes to work for the store as the store’s Santa Claus, he tells a customer that they don’t carry that item, but he knows where they can get one. The lady is so happy that a Macy’s store employee gave her advice that wasn’t helping Macy’s that she told the store manager. At first, the manager was worried, but he realized what impact that this new method was having on his store and he started telling all of his employees to tell customers about other stores that carried similar products.

    Obviously, this isn’t what the story is about, but it does teach us that sometimes we need outside sources to help us with our decisions in life. AKA Macy’s policy of telling customers where to buy the products that they are looking for.

    Just an idea.

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  28. alexis6164

    The majority of the movies on the list I have seen and I understand their reason for being up here. The only the movie I have not seen is “Wag the Dog”. Personally I think another movie that should be on the list is “What Women Want” with Mel Gibson. It shows the light that Public Relations is diverse and the situations in which come into play cannot be gender bias. An individual would have to be willing to have an open mind.

  29. Robert Jaracz

    “The American President” shows how the president deals with issues and how his “image” is affected once he becomes involved with a love interest. It not only shows how he deals with that, but also with other problems such as approval ratings and other issues. Great movie. Goes well with public relations.

  30. I have seen many of these movies and have enjoyed watching them again after understanding how each movie applies to the public relations field.

    Chicago, in my opinion, is a great movie for understanding Public Relations. It shows how people are set up to behave and respond a certain way and how this affects how they are viewed. I enjoyed this movie before understanding how it related to public relations and now I enjoy it even more due to the interest in this field. I believe that being able to pick out movies as Public Relations shows how you perceive your profession in society. I have enjoyed watching how practitioners are portrayed after now having a better understanding of the field due to this class.

  31. I have seen half of the movies listed above excluding ‘Hancock’ and ‘Wag the Dog.’ I remember the pr qualities in both ‘Thank You for Smoking’ and ‘Social Network,’ and I think both movies are a prime example of pr for the areas they represent.

    One movie I would add to your list would be ‘The Devil Wears Prada.’ This movie is both entertaining and professionally informative. It couples the glamourous lifestyle usually associated with pr and the not so glamourous tasks which usually accompany pr professions. Anne Hathaway’s character shows the skills required of a pr professional. She must be time-oriented, an effective communicator, and informed of the latest trends. She utilizes common pr tactics to complete the tasks requested by her boss.

    -S. Russell

  32. sharding12

    I have to admit that I’ve only seen one of the movies listed, and that was “Thank You for Smoking”, obviously. It showed me a lot about what Public Relations entails, and actually made me really excited about my future. I obviously don’t want to be in the kind of position that Nick Naylor was in, although he seemed pleased with himself for the majority of the movie. I do, however, like the thought of being able to sway how an audience views something, hopefully helping them understand something that they otherwise wouldn’t.

  33. I didn’t realize the PR role in some of these movies until this post. I guess I never really thought of all the different things you can do in public relations. That is one of the reasons I choose this major. I like the variety jobs and tasks you can have.

  34. kmtokars3240

    Professor Andrews,
    I thoroughly enjoyed watching “Thank You for Smoking” in class. I had never seen it before, and it was very eye-opening to see how much a PR rep can do for a company, no matter if the company is widely supported or not. It was a true test of skill for Nick Naylor to be able to respond in any situation the public and media threw at him. I personally don’t know if I would be able to respond so promptly as he did. And not only did he respond, but it was in such a way that people could not argue over him. It was amazing! If I am in a profession in the future that calls for me to work in such a way, I would surely need to practice.
    I also enjoy movies in general, so it was cool to see my school and my interest merge together to create a successful film. Hopefully more teachers will be able to include these types of teaching in my future classes, as well.

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  36. Although I’ve seen three out of four of these films, “Thank You for Smoking” has to be the best example for public relations. The story revolves around a lobbyist that spins all negative ideas about the tobacco industry. Another good movie to consider that displays PR related techniques is Chicago. The lawyer throughout the whole movie spins the the story of a murderess who shoots her husband. The lawyer ends up making her look like the victim rather than the criminal. I rather enjoy seeing PR practioners portrayed in the media, I just wish Free Agents was still on the air.

  37. I have actually seen all of these movies that you listed except the very first one. I found all of the trailers to be interesting and I understood where they linked to the public relations field. The only additional movie I could think of that you hadn’t posted a trailer of was “Sex and the city” which I saw where you wrote about it before posting the trailers. I can really see Samantha Jones role of public relations while watching the movies and TV series. It could be true that I can relate to this movie more than the others because I enjoy watching it more and get more involved in relating to this character. She does the event planning and celebrity promoting side of public relations.

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  39. Before this class I have only seen maybe 2/3 of “The Social Network” and for me it was slow to pick up at the beginning of the movie and once it did it didn’t last long, like Michelle, it just lost my interest little over half way through. It was getting too complicated and I had to keep telling my dad to pause it to catch me and up and tell me what was going on. I don’t like to have to do that when watching a movie and I’m sure the people I’m watching it with don’t either, haha. I did however, see the role public relations played in the movie as well as “Thank You for Smoking” (which I saw in your class for the first time). I have to say I really enjoyed it and it really put the “PR world” into perspective for me. I would recommend it to my friends and family, people not even affiliated with public relations. I also am a HUGE fan of Sex and the City and every now and then learn something from Samantha Jones, haha.

  40. I’ve seen “Thank You for Smoking” and “The Social Network” and I’ve seen the preview for “Hancock”. I absolutely loved “Thank You for Smoking” but “The Social Network” didn’t keep my interest for some reason. “Hancock” isn’t the type of movie I would normally watch so I never even considered watching it. I’ve heard of “Wag the Dog” but after watching that preview, I really want to see it.

  41. The movie Hancock…Hancock was a Super Hero “bust” that needed his image changed. Jason Bateman took the role of fixing Hancock’s image.

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