Would it surprise you to learn that that public relations characters in film scored low on honesty yet high on being driven by profit?

My colleague, Candace White, Ph.D., and I weren’t surprised either when we conducted research investigating how movies with public relations characters measure up against real professionals.

While we’re all too familiar with the many stereotypes about practitioners, brought to life by characters like Samantha Jones, what really surprised us were the faulty assumptions we found about the industry as a whole.

In our study, we saw there were more male than female public relations characters. Female public relations characters were more likely to have social interactions than their male counterparts. Also, most of the characters were publicists or spokespersons.

These findings fly in the face of industry reality — nearly 70 percent of public relations practitioners are female; public relations is a profession and not a social service, and job opportunities extend far beyond publicists or spokespersons.

With these inaccurate portrayals, film-based stereotypes about public relations may limit student awareness of options in the industry, encourage social rather than professional skills, and facilitate unrealistic expectations about the gender makeup of public relations.

If you’re fed up with film stereotypes about public relations (and we know we are), here are four ways you can fight back:

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