"There's an old saying, 'The cobbler's children have no shoes,'" flacks would say to me every single fucking time I wrote about the PR industry's reputation, at my old job. Advertising people: equally bad.

Any time that people who work in industries that are widely despised by the public get together for some sort of conference, the real underlying topic of conversation is "Why don't they like us?"

The answer, of course, is that they are all, to varying degrees, con artists, by profession, and quite well paid for it, so STFU. But still, everyone wants to be liked! The topic of the latest ad agency conference? You guessed it, it's about how to get people to like ad people!

THE advertising industry needs to do a better job of advertising itself, speakers and attendees at the 2009 American Association of Advertising Agencies leadership conference here said.

That rebranding began close to home. On Tuesday, the association's president and chief executive, Nancy Hill, announced the group would now go by the name 4A's, since the "American" was too limited (advertisers do business internationally), as was "Advertising Agencies" (firms now offer public relations services as well).

There's a winning strategy: Burnish your image by pointing out that you're now flacks, too. We'll be reading this same story for next year's conference, and on unto infinity, the end.