Public Relations and Media Essentials

Public Relations and Media Essentials

Updated Jul 02, 2019

The difference between public relations and media relations can be confusing. They sound similar and even PR pros sometimes use them interchangeably. In fact, as more channels of communication develop, the lines between the two are seemingly more blurred than ever. However, there are specific aspects that separate these communication terms and it’s important to understand the vernacular before selecting a PR agency or embarking on a “PR campaign.”

Defining Public Relations

The Public Relations Society of America defines public relations as, “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”

Which raises the question: Who are “their publics”?

Customers and prospects both fall into this bucket. As do community members, employees and even competitors. Pretty much anyone who is a stakeholder in your business or industry could be considered part of the “public” in “public relations.” Media relations, on the other hand, narrows that field.

What is Media Relations?

Media relations encompasses a company’s interactions with a very specific audience: those individuals who comprise the public-facing press and news media. These could be editors and reporters at online and print media outlets like The Washington Post and Forbes, or producers from TV and radio stations.

Where the lines begin to blur is when everyday people act as journalists, using social media or blogging platforms to report on and even break news. It’s known citizen journalism — the collection, dissemination and analysis of news and information by the general public —and as it continues to grow, who can be looped under the category of “media” changes. And, as a result, so do the target audiences of media relations efforts.