One of the biggest misconceptions of public relations is that it is just crisis management. It can seem like public relations is a dishonest industry all about spinning the story to make a client look better. The word “flacks” is a negative nickname that has been used to describe press agents since the 1940’s. There is so much more to this important industry than just crisis management.
Let’s Talk TV
The 2019 British drama “Flack” describes the term perfectly. The show is based around a public relations professional named Robyn working in a London celebrity PR firm. The show only goes into her lying and spinning the story about a scandal that happened to a celebrity to the media.
While crisis management is a substantial part of the profession, this show does not go into all of the other responsibilities of public relations professionals. The show also represents PR professionals unfairly since one of the cardinal rules of the profession is that they should never lie or try to spin the story.
So, why are terms like “flack” and “spin” harmful to the industry? Well, imagine what would happen if people called a doctor a “pill pusher” or if a chiropractor was called a “bone cracker”? These names would be considered inaccurate or offensive.
Words matter. In the profession, words have an impact on the public. If public relations professionals are seen as negative, how will their words be perceived?
Public relations is about so much more than crisis management. It is event planning, social media management, content creation, and more. While being able to manage a crisis is important, this is not the only responsibility required. Using “flack” and “spin” to describe this industry is inaccurate. There is so much more to this industry.