You have likely heard the terms media relations and public relations used interchangeably. While there are similarities between the two, they are not the same thing.
We can define public relations as a long-term and strategic communications process that develops mutually beneficial and lasting relationships between various organizations and their target audience. These various audiences include customers, employees, industry leaders, government bodies, investors, suppliers, charities, and the media. PR firms can devise PR campaigns that resonate with these audience groups.
Media relations, on the other hand, is an aspect of public relations. The two terms are not strictly interchangeable since media relations focuses solely on the relationship between an organization and the media. These can be editors, reporters, and journalists at online publications as well as print media outlets such as Forbes and The Washington Post, or producers from radio and TV stations.
Here are some reasons why public relations and media relations are not the same.
Story Development and Broadcasting
Public relations focuses on helping companies or organizations find their story and determining what they would like to say and to whom. This shows the importance of strategic public relations.
On the other hand, with media relations, key stories are assigned a platform and widely distributed to consumers of news. The evolution of technology has opened the doors for organizations to explore different methods to reach audiences, such as with blogging and social media.
However, while these mediums are still relatively new, they do not eliminate the need for traditional news, like television, newspapers and radio. Traditional news is still one of the most effective ways to share your message with a large audience. It is also cost-effective.
Number of Channels
Public relations specialists look to develop and foster the relationships between their organization and stakeholders. To do this, public relations professionals may utilize various and diversified channels, such as a company blog, various social media platforms, or even special events for communicating effectively and directly with those individuals.
In contrast, media relations tend to focus on just one important channel: the press.
If you use the press as the channel for communicating with stakeholders, it not only allows you to meet stakeholders where they are already — using what they are already watching, reading, or listening to — but it helps add third-party validation to your message. Underestimating the importance of third-party validation is detrimental. Think about how persuasive and credible a message is coming from a source, like Forbes or The New York Times, versus coming from a newly-established Twitter account.