Glamourous PR girls? Why your TV is lying to you.

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The perception of women in PR is highly influenced by fictional movies and tv shows - and it´s not always the best one.

Many people don`t exactly know what PR is all about and what a PR pro really does. So TV actually plays a big part in constructing the public image of PR.

Movies like Wag the Dog or Thank you for Smoking show PR as ruthless, unethical spin. But there may be an even bigger threat to the profession: the countless fictional and reality TV shows featuring the fabulous lifes of "PR girls". When female PR practitioners are portrayed as fluffy party girls, young, pretty and from head to toe dressed in designer clothes, this might have a negative impact on both the state of professionalism in PR and the ongoing fight of women trying to shatter the glass ceiling.

PR is a field widely dominated by women. And in fact, whenever a PR practitioner is shown on TV, it`s a woman. Samantha Jones in Sex & the City, Eddie and Patsie in Absolutely Fabulous, Shauna in Entourage: they all have one thing in common - they work in the celebrity, fashion and lifestyle sector and they are living every girl´s dream. What they display is a rather superficial view of public relations: PR is more fun than actual work, more of a lifestyle choice than a career. And as a pleasant side effect, they all seem to earn tons of money. They are dressed in Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton, drive fancy cars and their main job seems to be drinking champagne at parties.

All those popular shows may be one of the reasons why so many young girls decide to pursue a career in PR. Well, reality will teach them a lesson soon enough. Working in PR isn`t more glamourous than any other job. Especially Fashion PR requires more than a "Passion for Fashion" - it is hard work and most of the time, you`ll be to tired to go to those fabulous parties that you see on TV.

But yes, there may be hope. While the MTV "Power Girls", a reality show about Lizzie Grubman`s New York PR firm, seem like Samantha Jones` little sisters, all giggly and glamourous, the new show featuring life in a PR agency takes a slightly different approach: Bravo`s "Kell on Earth" is the first show to focus on the hard work that stands behind a glamourous appearance. Fashion publicist Kelly Cutrone often looks like she hasn`t slept in 5 years and so do most of her employees: fashion PR is dominated by long working hours, very unglamourous duties and unpleasant budget cuts. Maybe that show will be eye-opening for some girls...

All in all, PR should start to work on its own reputation. TV is reinforcing the image of PR as being fluffy and somewhat unnecessary. As long as popular culture portrays women in PR as fluffy party girls, they won`t be associated with strong management skills and therefore won`t be able to reach the top of the profession. PR in general suffers from this reputation and has troubles with being taken seriously within organizational culture.

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