Carol Hassall, of Birmingham's Red Cat Communications, isn't a guru - and urges journalists to think twice before chiefs, boffins and top dogs hit the presses...

I've been called a few names in my time, but far and away the most annoying has to be a magazine referring to me as a "PR guru".

Why? Well, apart from the fact that it has a distinct whiff of irony about it, it just isn't true.

I'm not a 'guru' in any sense of the word - especially the sandal-wearing, spiritual sense - nor do I work in public relations.

I don't want to put the backs up of all those hardworking and talented PR professionals, but I'm just not one of them.

I work in communications - and there is a difference, even if slack journalists can't see it.

Having been a slack journalist in the past, I feel perfectly qualified to slate an entire profession for using shorthand terminology for their own gain.

I should know - I've done it myself.

"PR Guru" is a much easier, nay snappier, way to describe someone you've interviewed and it works much better in a headline than 'Communications professional'.

But what does it tell the reader?

That job title suggests to me a nattily-dressed charlatan who charges top dollar for crackpot advice in a "money for old rope" business.

That's not me - honestly! "Fire chief", "council boss'", "spin doctor" . . . these are all neat ways of reducing people's professions into catchy phrases, but they are ultimately meaningless outside of the newspaper itself.

Would you know what a "Tory kingmaker" was?

According to a particular newspaper report he's a £276,000-a-year part-time marketing specialist who is going to help David Cameron become Prime Minister.

Oh yes - he's also referred to as a "marketing guru".

I suppose on his salary, he's not bothered about the way he's described - and I dare say that may be one of the more flattering euphemisms he'll acquire in the media over the next couple of years.

But it is interesting to see how the value of people's jobs is ultimately undermined by these off-the-shelf terms and it wouldn't surprise me if some people are genuinely annoyed by it.

In my transition from journalism to communications over the years I've seen chief executives called "top dogs", NHS specialists reduced to "health worker" and world-leading scientists referred to as "Brum boffins".

I'm not about to bust a gut over being a 'guru', but I can understand why some people might.

So please - you old hacks - spare a thought for those with long job titles when conjuring up a new one for them.

They may not like the title themselves, but at least it bears some resemblance to what they do. ..SUPL: