Public relations and corporate communications are relatively the same, though their objectives and tactics are often quite different-conflicting even. They are the proverbial kissing cousins of communication, and just as public relations creatively promotes the favorable image of its client to the public, corporate communications adheres to the complicated bylaws of compliance in both internal and external communication, promoting the integrity of a corporation with very little room for creativity. And while they are very different, both types of communication are heavy-hitters in any company’s success.
Since public relations is a profession that relates mostly to the promotion of an image, depending on its client, it has free license to spin words, stories and photographs into innovative and interesting press release. As for corporate communications, a profession that prides itself for coloring compliantly within the lines, there is almost no free license to spin words, stories and photographs. In fact if public relations and corporate communications were sisters, one might be considered the younger free-spirited sister and the other the older more responsible sister.
In the business of public relations, the objective is to create newsworthy press. Again, depending upon the client, there is lots of room to get creative and even more room to get away with it. With corporate communication it may take a complicated approval process as long as your arm to get a short company email out to the press or to its employee-base. And though the two businesses are vastly different, they both serve a very specific and useful purpose when it comes to communicating to the public.
An organization’s reputation and profitability can often depend upon the goals and policies of both the public relation specialist and the corporate communications specialist–both invaluable advocates for the business. Both roles can be an exciting and lucrative field to get into since both media marketing and business technology are fast-becoming a growing field of opportunity. When considering a job in communications, one might consider whether they enjoy the creative side vs. the more structured side of the business.
Corporate communications is about more than “telling the organization’s story”. It is often the subject of public issue, health, energy, the environment, employee satisfaction and anything and everything corporate. Corporate communications is a subtle message that is often lost in acronyms and flavorless corporate-talk. It has a responsibility to the business, to its employees, to its shareholders and to its customers, and it takes that responsibility seriously. On the other hand, public relations has a responsibility to making headlines, crafting stories and attracting the attention of the media and the public-often in any means necessary. That’s not to say that public relations firms are underhanded and lacking integrity. It’s just that they don’t holdfast to the same rules that most corporations do, and it often causes conflict between the two businesses.
Public relations are directed to the media. This, of course, means newspapers, magazines, radio, television and the internet. Publicity comes by way of any mention in the media. Organizations generally have very little control over the message that gets out into the media. It’s the journalists and reporters that take the message and run with it. As for corporate communications, most messages are directed internally to its employee-base, customers and partners via email, memos and the occasional press release. And great pains go into keeping those vehicles of communication close to the vest.
Natalie June Reilly began writing professionally in 2000 for the "Arizona Republic" and most recently with "Phoenix Woman Magazine" and "Chicken Soup for the Soul." She has a background in corporate communications and publishing. Reilly is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Arizona State University.