I was recently introduced as my client’s “PR flack.” It’s not a term I hear a lot. Well, I hear it on TV or in movies, but not in real life. It’s not particularly offensive to me, but I do think it’s a rather limiting term. I’m pretty sure other PR “practitioners” would agree.
Recent conversations in blogs and Twitter feeds authored by, among others, Kel Kelly and Jessica Gottlieb have highlighted appropriate PR practices (and subsequent responses to those conversations). The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines “flack” as “one who provides publicity.”
But, I’m so much more than that. I strategize, counsel, coach, and defend. I write speeches, give speeches, Tweet, and plan and host events. It is more than mere publicity; it’s public “relations.” The scope extends to the communities that my clients work in and their key audiences – whether they be media, elected officials, environmentally friendly car owners or teachers. My work is very big picture-oriented on some levels: answering questions like “What’s our role in this community?” and “How do our audiences perceive us? How do we want them to perceive us?” The nitty-gritty tactical details are designed to meet overarching goals. Sometimes they’re crisis related and all our work is focused on limiting publicity –not very flack-ish.
At any rate, there’s a stigma about PR practitioners – “oh, you’re one of them…” –that’s unfortunate. While I love the work I do, I look forward to the day it gets a little more respect. Give us some credit for the strategic thinking that goes behind the drive for – or against – publicity.