If you work in public relations, you’ve definitely been asked, as have we, “What exactly is PR?” (If you still don’t have an answer, check out our take on the question here) The next question is usually, “So is it the same as media relations?” Our answer? No, and here’s why.
The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” In this sense, “publics” could be defined as stakeholders of any kind – customers, prospects, competitors, community members, employees, etc. It encompasses any one who interacts with or is impacted by the organization on any level.
PR teams use creative storytelling to portray a company’s point of view to gain public exposure. This can be achieved through a number of tactics, including social media, special events, or tailoring messaging on the company’s website. Another way to accomplish PR goals? Media Relations.
Media Relations is an aspect of public relations. The terms are not interchangeable as media relations focuses solely on the relationship between the company and the media. They use different media outlets and coverage to tell the company’s story, rather than directly engaging with the publics and key stakeholders.
The lines between media relations and public relations, however, have blurred with the evolution of the Internet and our ever-connected society. There were almost 7 million people blogging in the United States alone last year, and that’s not including those blogging on social networking sites, which makes that number jump to 12 million! Blogs have become competitors with mainstream media.
The key to success in a top-notch communications strategy is the combination of strong public relations with strong media relations. Earned media is just a piece of the puzzle that makes up a successful PR strategy. Find where your customers are watching, find what they’re reading, and engage with that reporter or blogger. You may be surprised when you find out exactly what (or who) is influencing them.