Jerry is perhaps the best example of modern PR in action – after his moral epiphany, he experiments with an entirely new approach to his craft, one that's much more honest and transparent. Fed up with agency life, Jerry heads out on his own… with his one, very demanding client. Sound familiar, PR folks? Show me the money!
It's one thing to convince someone to paint a fence for you. It's something else entirely when you get them to pay you to do your work for you. That's some sweet ass PR. Add in Tom's healthy imagination and propensity for story telling, and you've got yourself one of the most badass PR people of all time. Need we even mention the saying? Don't try to Tom Sawyer me!
Nick Naylor is one of the more literal examples of PR people on this list. But that doesn't make him any less of a PR beast. Sitting in front of a panel of senators and politicians, Nick flips the conversation on its head and puts Senator Finistirre on the defensive… but not about cigarettes: "That's ludicrous - The great state of Vermont will not apologize for its cheese!"
Havey Keitel, the Wolf, is quite possibly the best example of crisis communications experts at their finest. He's calm, he assesses the situation in a split second, and he hammers out a plan to solve the problem. If you want a playbook for your next crisis, just do as the Wolf would: "Now, you've got a corpse in a car, minus a head, in a garage. Take me to it." Can you communicate any clearer than that?
Often described as a "spin master", Conrad Brean is much more creative than that. He doesn't "spin" a sex scandal into a positive piece of news for a presidential candidate, he creates a fake war, complete with fake soldiers, to take everyone's attention away from the scandal. You might take away a few points for dishonesty, but as far as PR characters go, this guy has some pretty big PR balls.
Most people don't think about Inception this way – but Cobb is the ultimate PR person. Unlike others on this list, he's not persuading or convincing people, he's merely planting ideas and letting them grow into thoughts that people think they are having themselves. It's beautiful PR work. It's not about Cobb, it's about quietly influencing the emotions of other people. Cobb even gives great PR advice: "Which is why we need to plant it deep in his subconscious. Subconscious is motivated by emotion, right? Not reason. We need to find a way to translate this into an emotional concept."
It's worth noting that CJ is the only woman on this list. PR is an industry currently dominated by women, but the casting directors seem to have a preference for male PR characters. Nonetheless, as far as prominent PR roles go, CJ is the epitome of a sharp, powerful and savvy PR pro. And like so many PR executives, her role quickly grows beyond public relations and into strategic counsel on policy and then she even becomes Chief of Staff. She's the modern PR person in every way – encompassing much more than just communications skills.
Come on — you didn't see that twist coming. Don't even try to act like you knew it was coming. Keyser Söze is the perfect example of a great PR person. He's in the background, nobody ever meets or sees him, but somehow he influences your decisions and actions, and then he's gone. Is he real? Does it matter? As Verbal said: "That was his power. The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. And like that, poof. He's gone."
Let's be clear – Willy Wonka enslaved a group of orange-skinned people and made everyone think that he was doing them a favor. But that's not all that makes him a great PR character. Willy Wonka was a true showman… he didn't just make products that people loved, he made them in a way that inspired wonder and awe. Nobody ever got inside his factory until the golden ticket contest, and that secrecy fueled speculation and buzz around the Wonka brand for decades. As for product PR – every product Gene Wilder introduced to his guests had perfect messaging: "No, it's a Wonkavator. An elevator can only go up and down, but the Wonkavator can go sideways, and slantways, and longways, and backways..."
The Wizard uses science and technology to turn himself into a legend. Despite the fact that he was a scared little man, people followed him, respected him and believed that he was wise and powerful. The existence of "the Wizard" was merely a PR campaign made up of special effects, legend, rumor and great story telling. Heck, the guy had his own jingle: "We're off to see the Wizard, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz!"