PUBLIC AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC RELATIONS: WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

When people hear the words ‘public affairs’ and ‘public relations’, they often think that they are the same thing. While there are some similarities between the two, they serve different purposes.
 

The major similarity between public affairs and corporate public relations is that they aim at creating, developing and implementing a campaign strategy that generates a public response using a variety of traditional and digital marketing techniques to help get messages into the public consciousness. The main difference lies in objectives. Public affairs is connected to the policy and regulatory environment and public relations is more concerned with a business’s relationship with the public. In other words, public relations focuses on establishing a link that a person may have with a business and what it offers, for example, developing a campaign that aims at generating interest for a new product, service, or social commitment of a company. On the other hand, public affairs campaigns target facets of public life in a way that can help educate or build awareness among policy makers who create laws and regulations governing public life. For example, a public affairs campaign might emphasize the benefits of recycling and keeping public places clean and encourage citizens to participate.


​Many companies struggle to decide whether public affairs or public relations strategies are best for achieving their objective. If you need help evaluating the direction you should take, we can help. The Winston Agency, a woman-owned, full-service boutique communications firm delivers strategic public relations and public affairs programs to help companies, associations, and nonprofit organizations tell their stories and advance their interests with the audiences that matter most. We're experts in the practice of corporate communication and public relations and additionally offer specialized services in sustainability and corporate social responsibility communications.
 

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