This paper aims to gain an understanding of the nature and extent of the practice of “public relations” in history. Design/methodology/approach - The paper uses an analysis of popular narratives (in particular rumour, legend and myth) to inform a detailed case study of Glastonbury abbey in the medieval period. Findings - Glastonbury Abbey worked in partnership with the Crown to develop a detailed promotional campaign based on powerful narratives. As a consequence it was able to grow to become one of the wealthiest communities in the country. The Crown, meanwhile, consolidated its position by being able to engender a whole national “brand” around the mythical corpus. Research limitations/implications - Methodologically, using folklore and other popular narrative material is useful as to an extent it is outside official control, but also provides information about the story tellers and the audiences. Originality/value - The research builds on Watson's recent work on St Swithun and Winchester, taking the ideas forward several hundred years (and finding many of the same patterns). It finds new developments in terms of co-branding and brand revivals.