The major difference between sales and public relations is financial; sales involves the exchange of money whereas PR does not. What they have in common is relationships. A sales transaction will not occur without some type of relationship between a buyer and your business as the seller. In PR, the relationship with a public entity--such as media and other businesses--is the primary goal. These relationships then help fulfill objectives, like getting positive publicity. Communication is important to both areas but PR involves a great deal of writing and formal communications like speeches and announcements.

Public Relations Defined

The Public Relations Society of America, the largest membership group of PR professionals in the U.S., defines public relations as “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.” As a small business, your primary PR focus will be with the media, with a goal of generating positive publicity for your company. You will engage in PR with other organizations to build relationships that benefit your business, such as vendors, suppliers, chambers of commerce and other community organizations.

Sales Defined

Sales is most simply defined as money you collect for selling your products or services. You need to use some method or several methods to persuade a prospective buyer to purchase what you are selling. You can do so by providing a reasonable or lower price than a competitor, offering high quality goods with great customer service or some other incentive like including additional services or features with the purchase. You may also simply be able to convince customers that the purchase will enrich their lives in some manner.

PR and Business

If you build a relationship with reporters who cover your industry, you will contact them whenever you have news. You will try to convince them that your news is of interest to their audiences. If they cover you, it benefits you with unbiased public exposure, and it benefits them by providing their readers or audience with useful information. You also conduct PR when you make a speech in the community, such as at a trade show, networking function or chamber of commerce meeting. As an added bonus, the media often covers these events.

Sales and Business

Without sales, you won’t be in business for long. Not every business owner is a natural salesperson; even if you are, there are strategies you can use to help you be more effective. Understanding your personality can also help you find the most effective selling method for you. Any salespeople you hire should also understand the stages of the selling process so they can lead the customer through to a final transaction.