The difference between PR and communications

You know the saying that all squares are rectangles, but not all rectangles are squares? Well, the same is true for public relations and communications. While public relations includes communication, communication doesn’t always include PR. When you’re building your communications team at your organization, it’s important to remember the specialized jobs that fall under that category — including PR. Here are the top three things you need to know about when differentiating public relations from communications. 

Public relations is a specific type of communication. 

Think of the term “communications” as an umbrella. Once you get under that umbrella, you can find more nitty-gritty concepts — like public relations, advertising, marketing, journalism, etc. The main area of service  everyone thinks of that differentiates public relations from communications is media relations. Whether it’s through writing news releases, pitching stories or media training, a public relations professional is there to help you look your best, speak clearly and put you in front of the audience you’re trying to reach. Other PR specialties include crisis management, event promotion, reputation support and message positioning.

Public relations builds relationships. 

While communications focuses on general writing and communication skills, public relations centers around relationship building and maintenance — mainly the relationships between an organization and a set of specific audiences. There are several strategies and related tactics that can be used to help with this process. Media relations can help put you in front of an audience and keep news leaders interested in reporting on what you’re up to. Public relations practitioners can also use social media to communicate with target audiences. They can help you determine which platforms are best for your organization and help flesh out brand language. If that isn’t enough for you, they also know the best practices to adopt on each platform you’re using and analyze and improve upon your analytics, which should increase your brand awareness overall. Community relations is also an important part of building relationships in PR. Giving back to and connecting with your community is important, but you need to make sure how you’re doing it aligns with your company’s mission and values. A PR professional can help you find the perfect way to reinvest in your city, and they can help you develop the communication strategy to make sure it’s effectively carried out and promoted. 

Public relations helps you deliver the right messages at the right time.

Public relations practitioners help you craft messages to fit your brand and also resonate with your intended audiences. In addition to this skill, they also know how to deliver those messages at the perfect time. Whether it’s leveraging community sentiments and local trends to ensure your message lands appropriately or pitching to media outlets when trending stories are most impactful, PR practitioners know the best practices to get the job done. It’s important to note that while there are general PR principles applicable across multiple markets, you should consider investing in local agencies or firms because they have an extra layer of expert knowledge in the city, state or region they’re in. 

Whether you’re just starting out in business or have been in the game for years, make sure you have the right people on your communications team. Public relations professionals are a vital part of the communications process. You’re bound to increase your brand awareness and positive public relationships with the right PR team on your side.