No wonder we get Flack

Flack – a new W series about a crisis communications expert starring Anna Paquin – premiered last night amid much fanfare. Account manager Tom Snee watched the opening episode and found a few things the show got right, and a few it didn’t.

No wonder we get Flack

Broadcast depictions of the public relations industry are rarely a realistic reflection of the type of work that I and the vast majority of my compatriots at the coalface experience day-to-day.

Whether it is dramas like Scandal or factual shows like BBC Radio 4’s The Media Show, the wider broadcast media often focuses on the more “glamorous” aspects of the role of a PR practitioner.

One look at the #IfFlackWasReal trend on Twitter paints a more accurate picture of day-to-day PR, but let’s be honest – crisis communications is the objectively cool part of what we as an industry do.

With that in mind, I took on the task of live tweeting the first episode of the heavily-promoted Flack and made a few observations.

What Flack got wrong

Ethics – While it is clearly a dramatic device in this case, it’s important to state that public relations has more nuance than just muddying the waters on big scandals. Real PR is about helping people tell the stories they have worked so hard to build.
Interns – Although poor Melody was eventually given less menial tasks, Eve’s insistence that she fetch her a coffee and run her Tinder profile presents a harmful stereotype of what interning in PR is really like. We suggest you read our blog for a more accurate depiction…
Breaking and entering – As a rule of thumb, we don’t tend to break into clients’ homes.

What Flack got right

Teamwork makes the dream work – Even as the protagonist Robyn was embroiled in a crisis comms scandal – she leant on her colleagues to help her sort things out. Behind every great PR professional, there’s a great team.
Support teams are the best – A PR agency is so much more than just its account directors, managers and executives. Your support staff such as office managers, admin assistants and tech support are crucial to ensuring the whole PR operation runs smoothly – even if they’re just showing you how to switch a mouse on.
Preparation on the go – Getting ready on the Tube like Robyn did is a bit of a cliché, but there’s a reason why our office has full-length mirrors, a fully-stocked makeup table and a selection of colognes to match Brian Fantana’s collection from Anchorman.

In conclusion, Flack was fluffy and not exactly the best PR for PR. The series furthers some of the great misconceptions of our industry, but as is usually the case, the myth is far more entertaining than the truth.

We are always happy to shatter the stereotypes, so if you’d like to see how a PR agency really works, come and see us for a chat. Or, better still, join the team.

By Tom Snee

Tom has extensive experience in PR, having managed accounts for flagship clients and international brands. His multi-channel content creation skills give him the tools to deliver varied and insightful campaigns across many different sectors.