How PR is different from other forms of Public Communication

How PR is different from other forms of Public  Communication

To understand the Nature of Public Relations read here!

Public Relations is different from other forms of public communication because it is not a single form. Instead, public relations can be a combination of ways to communicate messages to the public. Still, they are characterized by their diverse forms and the specific audiences they primarily target. Therefore, the primary focus of this blog post will be on PR strategies that may have value for people working in large corporations or government institutions.

The approaches used to perform PR outreach can vary according to the objectives and resources available for each individual entity. Therefore, organizations do not follow one particular formula when communicating with the public.

Today we will look at Public Relations versus other related professions such as publicity, Propaganda, advertising and lobbying.

  1. Publicity: What is Publicity?

Publicity is an effective medium to disseminate messages to the masses through mass media.

What are the Characteristics of Publicity:

Publicity is not a paid form of mass communication. But, there are some indirect costs. For example, a firm needs some amount for arranging functions, calling press conferences, inviting outstanding personalities, decorating the stage, other related expenses, etc. However, the indirect costs are much lower than other means of promotion.

  1. Publicity is done through various mass media, like newspapers, magazines, radio, television, etc.  3. Publicity is done to fulfil some objectives, like sales promotion, promotion of a new product, notable achievements of employees, publicizing new policies, or increasing in sales. It primarily highlights activities and products through media to build the company's image. In  Govt, it is to launch a new policy or a program.
  2. Producer of publicity or publicist once releases it to the media, has no control in terms of its output in the mass media. A publicist can only control the story's content but has no control over its placement or interpretation. Publicity has a high degree of credibility or reliability as it comes from the mass media independently.

How can you compare it with Public Relations?

  1. Publicity is a part of broad public relations efforts and activities.
  2. Public relations mean improving, establishing, and maintaining direct connections with all public. Publicity also can help improve public relations in these fields.
  3. Publicity carries more factual information and is more trustable. It helps establish public relations.
  4. Publicity is suitable for those organizations which cannot effort expensive ways to promote a product. Publicity can be used by non-commercial organizations like universities, hospitals, or social and missionary organizations.
  5. Publicity is known for its newsworthiness.

Examples of Publicity: News stories/interviews in trade journals, industry sites,  newspapers, magazines, etc.

"Expert" quotes in a story written by a journalist or blogger, Self-authored stories published on websites or in industry publications, speaking engagements, etc.

2. Propaganda: What is Propaganda?

It is a mode of communication used to manipulate or influence the opinion of groups to support a particular cause or belief.

What are the similarities with Public Relations:

  1. Both public relations and Propaganda seek to shape perceptions and influence public opinion.
  2. Both use mass media.
  3. Both are directed at specific audiences.
  4. The end result of both is to get people to take action. Though those actions may differ immensely.
  5. Both refer to the spreading of information to influence others.
  6. Both use various media platforms to reach different audiences.

What are the differences with Public Relations:

  • Propaganda is a PR exercise but is more often linked with malicious intentions.
  • Propaganda lacks truth. Public relations involves using truthful information to put a positive spin on an issue,  person, or organization.
  • There is a difference in the intentions and motivation in their usage.
  • Propaganda is typically used negatively. It is often used to damage an opposing cause, organization, or individual.
  • In Propaganda, the foundation of a campaign is not based on truth. A political movement to attack an opponent is an example of Propaganda. Public relations, on the other hand, usually present truthful information positively. For example, celebrities give interviews and appear on talk shows to promote a new movie or when a public relations campaign is launched to counter a scandal or controversy to address the issue to restore the person's or company's reputation.
  • The element of Truth: Propaganda uses lies, half-truths, misinformation, one-sided arguments and inflammatory rhetoric to influence the public's attitude toward a cause, ideal or, usually, a political agenda.
  • Public relations uses truth, logic, facts and sometimes emotions to spread information between an organization or individual and its public—to promote products and services and build goodwill for the organizations offering them.
  • Propaganda's underlying philosophy is to create division among different groups. (We have freedom fighters; they  have terrorists.) Public relations' philosophy is to build trust between an organization and its products and services with its targeted audiences for mutual benefit.
  • Propaganda relies on one-way communications and wants to eliminate dissent. Public relations relies on two-way communications.
  • PR is often described as objective and extensive information for the public, whereas Propaganda is associated with manipulative activities.
  • Propaganda is generally an appeal to emotion, not intellect. Public Relations, on the other hand, is a  management tool used to create goodwill between an organization and its public (internal and external). If what you are "spinning" has a solid basis, you're doing PR. If not, it's Propaganda, plain and simple.
  • Propaganda's efforts are not sustainable in the modern world. Propaganda thrives on misinformation and can be self-destructive.

Hitler, a well-known propagandist, had said this during the world war: "If you are going to tell a lie, don't tell a little one because it will be recognized as a lie. Tell the biggest and most unthinkable lie. But, then, keep telling it, and people will think it  must be true and believe it." He further concluded: "The greater the lie, the more effective it is as a weapon."

For example, in a crisis, a PR Practitioner will obtain all the facts and urge the business managers to draw up a  convenient plan for recovery and a plan for the future. However, Propaganda may deny any such thing happening.

3. Advertising: What is Advertising?

Advertising is a form of persuasion that informs people about the goods and services they can purchase.

What are the similarities with Public Relations:

  1. Public relations and advertising are similar in concept; both are designed to positively raise awareness about a company or product.
  2. In both cases, the organization targets its message toward a  particular audience. These could be people living in a specific location, people of a certain age, gender or social background, or people with particular interests or hobbies. In PR also, different target groups are aimed at.
  3. Just like advertising, PR often helps increase sales as a  part of marketing publicity. Still, its main focus is creating positive publicity about an organization or individual and maintaining a good reputation in public. Thus, advertising is one of the PR tools.

The difference with Public Relations:

  1. Advertising is paid announcements promoted through different media types, including online, print, TV, out-of-home and radio. On the other hand, PR is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and the public.
  2. PR and advertising often go hand in hand, but they are two completely different things with another goal and overall effect. Advertising exclusively focuses on promoting products or services to encourage the target audience to buy. PR specializes in communication with the public and media to develop goodwill and mutually beneficial interest.
  3. In Advertising, you always pay for space and time. By contrast, editorial coverage generated through public relations is not paid for but arranged through a news release issued by the company. The media will only pick up and publish such a story if they consider it newsworthy.
  4. In advertising, the organization has complete control over the message as it pays for it. The only criterion is it should follow acceptable standards for advertising. In the case of public relations, the media outlet you are targeting is under no obligation to run the story in any form. Even if the media decide to run the report, the editor has the choice to rewrite the news release or use only the relevant information from the news release. All decisions are made by the editor.
  5. Public relations is a cost-effective way of getting your story out. Only you have the professional skills for effective news releases and build a relationship with the relevant media.
  6. In short, the difference lies in paying for the space or going for free coverage.
  7. In Advertising, you have creative control. In Public  Relations, you have no control over how the media presents your information or if they decide to use your info.
  8. Advertising has a longer shelf life as you pay for the space and can run your ads as long as your budget allows. In  Public Relations, you only submit a press release about a  new product once and can send a press release about a news conference earlier. An editor won't publish your same press release three or four times in their magazine.
  9. In Advertising, consumers know when they're reading an advertisement in which a company is trying to sell a product or service. In Public Relations, when someone reads a third-party article about a product or views coverage of an event on TV, it creates greater credibility in the minds of clients' for a product or service. Thus, PR has more acceptability than advertisement to consumers.
  10. In Advertising, creativity is used in creating a new ad campaign. In public relations, one should have a nose for news to make it newsworthy.
  11. Public relations is about promoting a mix of specific products, services, events, and an organization's overall brand, which is an ongoing task. On the other hand,  an ad is for a particular product or service.

  1. Public relations contains a mixture of proactive publicity,  meaning the company sets out to promote a message, and reactive publicity, meaning it reacts to events such as a  scandal. Advertising is a proactive tool and rarely reactive, such as a product recall.

4. Lobbying:

The term lobbyist has come from the mid-seventeenth century when citizens would gather in a large lobby near the English House of Commons to express their views to members of Parliament. By the early nineteenth century, the term lobby-agent came to the United States. The practice of lobbying is protected in the U.S. government by the First  Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

  • What is lobbying:

Lobbying is dealing with government relations. Anyone aiming to influence a policy is considered a lobbyist. A  lobbyist interacts with a public authority or a policy maker.

  • Who are Lobbyists:

NGOs, religious bodies, diplomats, local governments,  industry groups, academics, etc., can be a lobbyist.

  • What does a Lobbyist do:

Lobbyist advocacy for influencing a government decision or to pass or defeat legislation. Why lobbying is essential in a democratic system: Lobbyists help the legislative process by providing lawmakers with reliable data and different points of view to arrive at an informed choice.

What similarities does lobbying have with PR:

  1. Both in lobbying and PR, information is a critical issue.
  2. Both provide a forum for the resolution of conflicts.
  3. A lobbyist provides information and opinion to legislators and government leaders. PR practitioners also perform similar work to broad target groups.
  4. Both lobbyists and PR people try to influence others.
  5. Both Lobbyists and PR professionals try to understand the concerns and interests of varied interest groups. (trade groups, labour unions, corporations and religious organizations, etc.
  6. (PR) is broad in concept. Lobbying has some of its elements.

Why Public Relations is not lobbying:

  1. In public relations, communication is to generate goodwill and mutual benefit. Lobbying goes beyond the merits and persuasiveness of the arguments; mobilization involves some material gain like monetary contributions,  gifts, favours, perks, etc.
  2. In public relations, 'communications advocacy' promotes a cause or purpose. When the " spoils " system is introduced in communication strategy, it becomes "lobbying,". (Spoils system: In the  politics of the United States, also known as a patronage  system, is a practice where a political party, after  winning an election, gives government jobs to its voters  as a reward for working toward victory.)
  3. In a democracy, a citizen has a constitutional right to petition the government on public policy and trust issues. This is public relations. It becomes lobbying when the debate focuses on self-gain and not mutual interest.
  4. Public relations is a more vigorous exercise to get the public on your side. Lobbying is going to the government directly and paying them to do things for you, bypassing the public altogether.
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