When I was a reporter at a daily newspaper, people who worked in PR were called "flacks," and those journalists who left to work in public relations were "going to the dark side." This was understandable. People in PR are often trying to shield their clients from the press, and instead of helping journalists, are giving them flak. (To learn more about the origin of flack and flak, check out this post from The Word Detective.)
I always thought the problem was just about common courtesy and about the way people in PR treat journalists. But there is also the issue of how people in PR treat potential clients. What are clients paying for? And what are the results? A restaurant owner wrote an interesting post about his experience with PR firms, and a follow-up piece about the benefits of social media. I think it sounds a little extreme, and there is a benefit to public relations when it's done right. But what do you think?