One of the reasons many PRs feel their discipline enjoys a poor reputation is that its public image is largely shaped by their natural foes, journalists. And they are probably right, at least insofar as the practice of PR discussed in the media is almost always confined to media relations - and usually media relations done badly.
It is not much different in fiction. Information and press officers often crop up as official spokespersons (but not as often as they do in real life - how many times have you read a crime novel in which dialogue with the police is via a voicebank?). The role of the spokesperson in fiction is almost always to thwart the free flow of information and when this resonates with the author's previous experience as an oft-thwarted journalist the depiction of PR is likely to be yet more unfavourable.
Former financial journalist Sophie Kinsella amplifies two potent prejudices in Confessions of a Shopaholic. The dashing anti-hero Luke Brandon, boss of Brandon Communications, is handsome and rich (journalists always believe PRs make much more money than for doing much less work) and PR practice is personified by the awful Alicia who treats Shopaholic journalist Becky Bloomwood with a lazy contempt. Towards the end, as Becky is asking valid and perceptive questions of her client, Alicia holds a parallel and more important conversation with an assistant about the precise make-up of her lunchtime sandwich.
"So, Rebecca, any other questions? Tell you what, shall I send you our latest press pack? That's bound to answer any other queries. Or you could fax in your questions."
Stupid patronising cow. Can't even be bothered to take my questions seriously.
PRs will say this kind of thing never happens; journalists will point to today's huge pile of ill-targeted and unwanted press releases.
And don't get them started about those annoying follow-up calls....