PR People: Flacks, Liars, Callous

“Lying to the media is traditionally called PR.”

“…the whole thorny practice called public relations.”

“PR at that level takes moral flexibility, callousness and charm.”

So says Virginia Heffernan in her L.A. Times op-ed “Who is Hope Hicks” (Hicks just announced her resignation as White House communications director yesterday). Did Heffernan go out of her way to take a few jabs at the entire PR industry?

Partner Susan Tellem took exception as did many in various PR forums and discussion groups online and the L.A. Times published Tellem’s letter to the editor the next day.

Calling Heffernan’s op-ed “incredibly rude and disrespectful,” she reminds our hater of the many professional public relations experts who provide story ideas and background information to reporters. Reporters at the L.A. Times. Wired. And every other outlet for which Heffernan writes.

“Especially obnoxious was Heffernan’s use of the derogatory word ‘flack’ to describe PR professionals,” Tellem says.

How would the news business fare if PR people stopped answering media calls for even a week?

“Reporters would be paralyzed without sources for their stories.”