When I read this blog posting from The PR News Blog, I laughed. Probably, because as a PR professional and a former news reporter, I’ve had an interesting two-sided experience with the word “flack.”
When working as a fresh-faced news reporter after college, I remember my editor saying, “Don’t let the flack boss you around. Get what you need for the story.” He was demanding and intimidating enough those first few weeks (I’m grateful today), but I remember thinking “What is he talking about?” I hadn’t a clue. Rather than ask a silly question and blow my cover, I knew there had to be away to define a flack. Thanks to a helpful colleague, I realized the flack was the PR person.
Today, more than fours years later of being a “flack,” I’m not offended by the term. Maybe its because I haven’t spent my entire career on the PR side of the fence, or maybe its because of my understanding of why reporters use the nickname.
When PR people make an insanely busy, deadline-focused reporter’s life more difficult, the question is—maybe they are behaving like a flack? You know the drill–standing in the way of the necessary source, not responding to interview requests, delivering non-useful information, not understanding news. The list (unfortunately) goes on.
However, if a PR person is clear, responsive, valuable, possesses a keen sense of news judgment and makes a reporter’s story richer (and hopefully, their lives easier), my guess is flack won’t be in their vocabulary,
Like any industry, sometimes you have to fight the reputation or performance of others. PR is certainly not exempt. That’s where positive relationship and trust building with reporters comes into play.
In the end, the absolute priority is meaningful news coverage on the behalf of the client. Nickname or not.