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PR Ethics Lessons From 'Roman Holiday'

The perils of overly cozy media relationships can be very real. Learn when to walk away from a story.

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Among my favorite films is Roman Holiday, an enduring classic and spiritual forerunner to today’s rom-coms, released this month in 1953. In the event you’re not familiar with it, Roman Holiday is the story of a royal who decides to be bad. Audrey Hepburn plays Princess Ann, a monarch from an unnamed, exotic country on a state visit to Rome who decides to sneak away and embark on a voyage of discovery in the Eternal City. Hepburn’s character even claims that her father is in public relations! But in fact, he’s royalty!

Paramount Pictures

While out adventuring, she encounters Gregory Peck’s character, Joe Bradley, an American reporter. During their first encounter, Joe doesn’t recognize the princess, but after an unlikely and chaste night together, he soon does. As the morning headlines scream about a missing princess, Joe realizes that he has stumbled across the year’s biggest scoop. Instead of admitting that he is a reporter, Joe claims to be a fertilizer salesman, joining Hepburn’s character on a whirlwind romantic adventure around Rome. Much joy and adventure ensue.

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