What is the difference between a turtle and a tortoise?
Both are names for Testudines which are similar-looking hard-shelled, egg-laying reptiles.
They are similar, but different. Turtles live most of their life in water while tortoises dwell on land.
Just as confusing, and often used interchangeably, Public Relations and Media Relations are two separate “animals” that work in the same environment as one another.
So, what is the actual difference between Public Relations and Media Relations?
And why does it matter that they are different?
To make matters more confusing, Media Relations is a function of Public Relations. Think of it as a branch or a function under the vast Public Relations umbrella. The famous cliche is that Public Relations shapes the message while Media Relations provides a megaphone.
An easy way to wrap your head around it is by focusing on the reason why one is PUBLIC relations and one is MEDIA relations. The definitions are embedded within the names.
Public relations crafts a brand’s message and utilizes multiple PR strategies, tactics, and channels (press releases, events, press conferences, advertorials, media relations, crisis management, partnerships, community relations, employee relations, and corporate social responsibility) to communicate the message to a brand’s various audiences or, in academia, their “publics” to convey the purpose of the brand.
Media relations intentionally and strategically targets the media (print and online media including newspapers), broadcast media (TV and radio), and social platforms to relay the message and convey the purpose of a brand.
The purpose of both Public Relations and Media Relations is to advocate for a brand through purposeful communications with key audiences (publics) and stakeholders and the media.