PR Word of the Week #23: @MartinWaxman’s favourite PR Word

Today’s guest blog post is by Martin Waxman. Martin Waxman is a social media and communications strategist, principal of Martin Waxman Commmunications, Senior Counselor at Thornley Fallis Communications and co-founder of three PR agencies. He has worked in communications and PR for 25 years, and specializes in social media, consumer marketing, product launches, corporate and internal communications, b2b and entertainment.

He writes a blog, myPALETTE, is one of the hosts of the Inside PR podcast and can be found on Twitter @martinwaxman.

My favourite PR word: Publicist

Sure, it’s a little out of date – though not enough to become retro. It reminds me of my first days in PR. I started as an arts and entertainment publicist and was proud of it. I was a media junkie who pored over newspapers in the morning, listened to radio talk shows, flipped through endless magazines, tuned into TV. And I always got a thrill when I saw a story I helped place in the news.

But there was a darker side of the job some of our less than above-board colleagues practiced; synonymous with manipulation, backroom deals and spin. To counter that, many corporate people
took to calling publicity media relations and there’s merit to that as it brings in the importance of relationships. Personally, I’ve always preferred the term publicist because it’s a clearer description of the role. Now it’s time we dust off the word, polish it up and reposition it. Here’s my definition.



  1. A person who pitches stories to reporters, morning, noon and night. See ‘no news is always bad news’; buzz.
  2. A man who stoops to unbelievable lows to get his client mentioned in the press. See Sweet Smell of Success; press agent.
  3. A woman or man working in communications who helps create and develop stories, understands who is going to be interested in them and why and presents them to the public in an engaging, ethical and transparent way. See media relations, PR, social media.


With social media, the publicist’s role can evolve everything from push to two-way as they focus on a customized approach to taking stories public. They can help content creators refine their stories. They should have the kinds of trusted relationships with influencers (or know how to make them) so that when they share an idea, the influencer will consider it. They should be polite and never spam a person by sending them something they don’t want to receive.

Let’s say you have a new product you’d like to introduce to your fans. A publicist could be the catalyst and spark word of mouth.

What do you think? Can the word publicist be saved?

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