How Does Public Relations Work in the Film Industry

By Rico Qiang

Right now, close your eyes and think about one film that you know will be released soon. Which film is in your mind? Doctor Strange? Top Gun: Maverick? Lightyear? Around 750 films are released every year, but only a few can grab your audiences’ attention and draw them to the theater. Bringing films to the spotlight is the job of PR agents, and here is a brief introduction to how PR works to maximize a film’s coverage to increase audience awareness.


You may think that the publicity of a film only starts after production begins. However, the promotion can be traced to the pre-production stage, even before the cast is set. For example, you may not be a huge film fan, but you must have seen social media posts or news coverage about how many A-List stars joined Oppenheimer (2023), Christopher Nolan’s new biographic film. Even though the film will not be released until 2023, the publicity campaign has already begun. Actors are always the best way for publicists to campaign with. By releasing the cast list bit by bit, PR agents successfully build a continuous and stable social feed and media coverage. The large number of famous actors in Oppenheimer even raised a trend on social media—Hey, if you are an actor in Hollywood and haven’t been cast in Oppenheimer and Barbie, what are you doing?

Production & Post-production

Like pre-production, during the production stage, publicists will release some set photos and encourage actors to post group photos to raise public interest. The public is always interested in seeing their favorite actors together and a behind-the-scenes look at their casual side. At the post-production stage, PR agents will release more posters and different versions of trailers online and in the theater.

Before & After Release

The true battlefield for PR agents starts after the film is produced and is ready to be released. During this period, a barrage of publicity stunts will hit the audience to gather the maximum attention. The four major media categories for film promotion are TV/radio, newspaper, outdoor, and online.


Today, TV/radio still makes up the most significant part of the budget. Publicists will survey the demographics of different TV stations’ audiences and place a 30-seconds trailer precisely for their target audience.


Publicists will also pay the newspaper to post showtimes and nearest theaters. However, with the decline of the printed newspaper, the method is less employed, but if the film’s target audience is the elderly, PR agents will still value its effectiveness.


Outdoor billboard is another essential medium. Large billboards with film posters can always catch people’s eye first when they are walking on the street or waiting for a red light.


Last but not least, publicists will create official accounts on different social media platforms and post interviews with the crew, Behind the Scenes, and other promotional materials to interact with audiences. They will also pay for online advertising, such as social media ads and banner ads, to ensure maximum exposure. Moreover, PR agents will try to create a buzz by including but not limited to inviting film influencers to the premiere and encouraging them to post reviews on social media.