I saw two interesting blog posts yesterday about the "flackiness" of PR and I thought that, together, they offered what to talk about.
First, Seth Godin held forth on the difference between public relations and publicity. His bottom line: PR is about discovering the story that will help drive publicity. (Actually, Godin says "crafting" the story, but to me that's a negative thing. More on that in a subsequent post.) Publicity is, well, publicity. The latter, according to Godin, is a lot easier than the former. Clients would do better to allow their PR firms to help frame the message as opposed to commanding them to go forth and publicize.
Second, was Gawker's not-so-veiled disappointment that Facebook co-founder and former Obama guy Chris Hughes has elected to join a DC PR firm. According to Owen Thomas, Hughes is now reduced to a "flack" - ranking possibly just above used car salesman.
Should Hughes be lambasted for simply joining a PR firm? How does Thomas already know what Hughes will be working on? Is it impossible to fathom that there are PR firms that work hard to counsel clients on the messages they will broadcast?
I don't know the firm Chris Hughes is going to. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say he'll be the "social media expert" and be brought in on new business pitches. But, he could very well play a role in important future campaigns that will shape public discourse in the United States.
Godin says PR pros have to do a better job at showing clients that public relations is a lot more than just publicity. Owen Thomas says that all PR pros are flacks.
Apparently, the PR field can use a little PR counsel.