My student, understandably, was frustrated by this. Unfortunately, the equation of PR to spin is not new, and won't go away soon. Ironically, there are others outside our profession who think PR is spin and think that's a good thing (I've had arguments with more than a few of them).
Here's a quick list of reasons why this public misperception of PR persists:
So, what to do about this?
Finally, remember to look on the bright side. There are still more jokes about lawyers.